James MacGregor Burns is a Pulitzer Prize winning historian and Senior Scholar at the James MacGregor Burns Academy of Leadership at the University of Maryland, College Park.

When James MacGregor Burns published his book Leadership in 1978 it quickly was acclaimed as a seminal study. His theories on transactional and transformational leadership entered the language and set standards for evaluating political success. Burns gave highest value to the transformational leader whose inspiration raises a society to a level of dramatic ambition and sacrifice. The move to centrist politics which dominated American and European politics toward the end of the 20th century jeopardizes the emergence of transformational leadership. In this conservation Burns explains why this is so.