Paradox and Power in Caring Leadership
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Paradox and Power in Caring Leadership

Critical and Philosophical Reflections

Edited by Leah Tomkins

Why does it matter that our leaders care about us? What might we reasonably expect from a caring leader, and what price are we prepared to pay for it? Is caring leadership something ‘soft’, or can it be linked to strategy and delivery? International scholars from the fields of ancient and modern philosophy, psychology, organization studies and leadership development offer a strikingly original debate on what it means for leaders to care.
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Chapter 4: Magically horrific: caring leadership and the paradoxical evolution of parenthood

Gerardo Abreu Pederzini


This chapter considers the biology of parenthood and how it might have evolved as a relationship of caring leadership. Through the lens of evolution, two paradoxes of caring leadership emerge. The first concerns why caring might happen in evolution, a process that is supposed to be about competition. The second is about how caring in the archetypal caring leadership relationship (i.e., parenthood) looks different between a systemic evolutionary perspective and a subjective one. These evolutionary paradoxes of parental care are essential to understand caring leadership, as they will teach us two important things. First, that evolutionarily, caring might not exist as such, but is simply a successful strategy that has endured because it can, not because it is right or wonderful. Second, that caring might only exist in the subjective experience of human beings, as evolution has transduced human beings’ perception of what has biologically happened.

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