Amoral Leaders

Definition

One of the two overarching leadership types described by Burns (1978) is the amoral leader.  As the name implies, these leaders did not possess honorable values. Burns considered the amoral leader an oxymoron; believing that power-wielding individuals cannot be transformational or transactional leaders.

Explanation

Amoral leaders disregard the beliefs of their followers, instead choosing to gain power through coercion and fear.  This type of leader was diametrically opposed to the second overarching type identified by Burns - moral leaders, which he believed had a higher purpose in life.  Finally, Burns rejected the notion that amoral leaders were actually leaders, and specifically rejected some of the more notorious rulers of the past as being true leaders.

Related Terms

moral leaders, transactional leaders, transformational leaders