Critical Perspectives on Leadership

Critical Perspectives on Leadership

Emotion, Toxicity, and Dysfunction

New Horizons in Leadership Studies series

Edited by Jeanette Lemmergaard and Sara Louise Muhr

Situated in the field of critical leadership studies, the chapters of this book set out to challenge the general assumption that emotionality is the antithesis of rationality. The authors expand upon the existing discussions of leadership emotions and reveal how toxicity and dysfunctionality are not merely simple, negatively coercive, or repressive phenomena, but can also have productive and enabling connotations. The book includes comprehensive overviews of traditional leadership thinking and in addition provides readers with critical reflections on concepts such as ignorance, authenticity, functional stupidity and vanity in leadership.

Chapter 8: Introduction to Part III

Jeanette Lemmergaard and Sara Louise Muhr

Subjects: business and management, organisation studies, politics and public policy, leadership


The third part of this volume explores different phenomena – ignorance, authenticity, functional stupidity and vanity – in the context of leadership and emotions. The authors of these chapters operate simultaneously at a philosophical, a theoretical and a practical level. They are not entering the debate to solve puzzles, but to raise awareness and critical thinking. From reading the chapters, which have been written with the intension of aiding reflection on our attitudes, it becomes clear that what we know about the reality of leadership and emotions is limited by our perceptual capabilities. Each chapter highlights, from a different angle, inconsistencies that many of us are likely to encounter in our attitudes towards – and opinion about – leaders. Combining the empirically founded cases in Part II with the critical reflections in Part III, readers are invited to reflect on the distinction between leadership as an intrinsically valuable activity and an extrinsically valuable action; a distinction comparable to Aristotle’s distinction between praxis (activity) and poesis (productive action). Whereas an extrinsically valuable activity is a means to an end, an intrinsically valuable activity does not involve a cost-benefit calculation. In the same manner, leadership toxicity and dysfunctionality are not simply negatively coercive or repressive connotations, but also potentially productive and enabling connotations which should be understood both extrinsically and intrinsically. Leadership emotions can, as the chapters here demonstrate, both be seen as interference and as the nurturing of organizational life. The value of leadership as an extrinsically valuable action lies in achieving efficiency. In viewing leadership as an intrinsically valuable activity

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