Critical and Philosophical Reflections
Edited by Leah Tomkins
Chapter 15: Caring leadership as collective responsibility: a dialogue with Arendt and Heidegger
What constitutes caring leadership within a university environment? In addressing this question, I examine current discussions on care, leadership and higher education before turning to explore Hannah Arendt’s ideas about care, which was an important aspect of her relational approach to leadership. She was adamant that this kind of leadership was rarely found in universities, further arguing that a kind of professional deformation pervaded academia, encouraging self-interest rather than collective well-being. Some professors live in a fantasy world, Arendt argued, failing to recognize how their actions demonstrate a care for self over a care for others. After exploring discourses of care and leadership, I illustrate her claim by examining how Martin Heidegger’s leadership actions demonstrate how privileging a particular vision can result in carelessness toward others. Finally, I show how an Arendtian approach offers insight into what it might mean to lead caringly.
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