Don’t Be a Pseudoleader

For over a hundred years, leadership theories have been diverse and wide ranging in their perspective, approach, and understanding of what leadership is. One thing that has been constant is the connection between leaders and followers, regardless of how that connection is defined and practiced. In the wake of any leader, there are people affected, whether positively or negatively, by the given leaders understanding of leadership. Because of this wake of individuals, it is vital leaders adopt and consistently practice values that are humane and effective for followers as well as the leader’s objectives on the horizon.

Hultman (2001) stated the choices of an individual are based on values, or “beliefs about what is important in life.” He goes on to point out the primary function of values is to meet needs. (Kindle Location 220-221) According to Burns, (2010) transformational leadership is a reciprocal process of mobilization to realize goals independently, or mutually, held by both leaders and followers. (p. 425) Burns believed leadership was not an exclusively beneficial relationship for the leader alone, but rather for the followers of a given leader as well. Bass (1999) echoed the sentiments of Burns by coining the term pseudotransformational leadership to describe leadership that is personalized to the interests of a leader solely, which Northouse (2013) names Hitler and Saddam Hussein as examples. (p.187) Leaders qualify as pseudoleaders when they are “self-consumed, exploitive, and power-oriented, owning warped moral values. (Northouse, p. 187)

In light of Bass and Burns’ research, the case can be made that values are vital for the new frontier of leadership to insure leaders apply their craft in such a way that keeps followers in mind as well as objectives. Without values acting as a guide, further atrocities may be the objective lying on the horizon.


Bass, B. M., & Steidlmeier, P. (1999). Ethics, character, and authentic transformational leadership behavior. The Leadership Quarterly, 10(2), 181–217.

Burns, J. M. (2010). Leadership (1 edition.). New York: Harper Perennial Modern Classics.

Hultman, K. (2001). Balancing Individual and Organizational Values: Walking the Tightrope to Success. Wiley.

Northouse, P. G. (2013). Leadership: theory and practice (6th ed.). Thousand Oaks: SAGE.

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