First described by Burns in 1978, executive leaders were one of the five types of transactional leaders documented. Executive leaders do not rely on the power derived from their position in an organization or political party to which they belong; rather they rely on their connection with the people, the masses, which they represent.
Burns felt that true executive leaders were able to transcend party lines, and use their own personal power and popularity to gain support. Burns distinguished executive leaders from legislative leaders and party leaders in the way they conducted transactions. While legislative leaders derived power from their political parties, executive leaders derived their power from the people they represent.
Executive leaders often use press conferences to manipulate others. They are also able to immediately understand the political agendas of those that might oppose them, and use this understanding to create mutually-beneficial transactions.
Group leaders, legislative leaders, opinion leaders, and party leaders were the other four leadership styles documented by Burns.