Rethinking Leadership
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Rethinking Leadership

A New Look at Old Questions, Second Edition

Donna Ladkin

This thoroughly revised and extended second edition of Rethinking Leadership offers an entirely new approach to understanding leadership as a lived experience rather than a checklist of traits or behaviors. Alongside selected expert contributors, Donna Ladkin makes complex ideas accessible by illustrating them with practical examples drawn from a broad experience of both academic leadership and management across a range of commercial, political and not-for-profit organizations.
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Chapter 10: Why cant leaders be human?

Perttu Salovaara


Although we know that to err is human, leadership theories typically neglect human incompleteness and vulnerabilities. Seen realistically, vulnerability is always part of leading, yet leaders are discussed mainly in heroic terms. Failing leaders – who may have been celebrated prior to their organization’s fall – are suddenly not perceived as ‘real’ leaders anymore. The chapter asks, ‘Why are leadership language and definitions of leadership silent about human weaknesses, humility and incompleteness?’ It contrasts the model of a self-interested and purely rational agent, Homo economicus, upon which much conventional leadership theorising is based, with a Heideggerian human image. In Heidegger’s analysis, human knowledge is insecure and it is human to live in a state of doubt, wonder and anxiety. Drawing from literature about humble leadership, as well as live case studies of the tomato haulage company Morning Star and the Chinese manufacturing firm Haier, the chapter argues that expectations of leaders and most leadership theories are based on a misguided human image. The chapter calls for rethinking what is considered leadership and what is not, and developing more adequate leadership theories which encompass more of the totality of what it is to be human.

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