Table of Contents

Authentic Leadership

Authentic Leadership

Clashes, Convergences and Coalescences

New Horizons in Leadership Studies series

Edited by Donna Ladkin and Chellie Spiller

The majority of authentic leadership literature focuses on the individual leader. However, the authors in this volume expertly focus on the premise that leadership is a relational phenomenon and not something that can be distilled down to the actions of one leader, be they authentic or not.

Chapter 6: Viewpoint: what ‘selves’ is authentic leadership true to? A Heideggerian contribution

Dominik Heil

Subjects: politics and public policy, leadership


Leadership is action. But what kind of action is leadership and what is the very nature of action in the first instance? We usually understand leadership as the kind of action that is a means of causing an effect on an organization and the human beings within the organization. The actuality of such an effect is then valued according to its utility (Heidegger 1949, p. 5). Such action, however, is not leadership but mere management. The very nature of leading at its most authentic is an engagement in accomplishment. ‘To accomplish means: to unfold something into the fullness of its very nature, to lead it forth into this fullness – producere. Accomplishable is therefore really only that, which already is’ (Heidegger 1949, p. 5). What then are the entities themselves that leadership is primarily concerned with, namely organizations and human beings, and what does it mean to unfold them into the fullness of their own very nature? An organization is not of the same very nature as a mere physical object, a plant, an animal or a human being. An organization in its very nature is a work (Heil 2011). The word ‘work’ is used here in the same sense as when one talks about a ‘work of art’ or the Latin word opus. To be a work means to be the kind of entity that sets up a world. Poetry, music, art, religion, philosophy, architecture and states are also works. While they all have physical properties, works cannot be understood via an analysis of these properties.

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