Intellectual Leaders


First described by Burns in 1978, intellectual leaders were one of the four types of transformational leaders documented. The intellectual leader attempts to transform society by creating a clear vision of the future. They do this by showing the followers how their ideas and values can change the social environment, and create a better future for everyone.


The intellectual leader helps the followers to understand they are an important part of society, and they should not be satisfied with the status quo.  The clarity of vision allows followers to understand their place in this future state or society, and accept the vision of the leader.

In addition to intellectual leaders, transformational leadership styles include reform leaders, revolutionary leaders, and charismatic leaders.  Transformational leaders are known to seek solutions that are both innovative and without constraints, while transactional leaders are willing to work within existing systems and negotiate with others to attain the goals of the organization.

Related Terms

transformational leaders, transactional leaders, reform leaders, revolutionary leaders, charismatic leaders