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 5: Leading with embodied care

Amanda Sinclair and Donna Ladkin

Abstract

This chapter explores understandings and practices of embodied care and self-care in leadership. How do leaders tap into the wisdom of their bodies to make decisions and choices which ‘pull on their heartstrings’ or ‘churn their gut’? What dilemmas and costs do leaders face, especially women leaders, seeking to practise care as part of effective, ethical leadership? Bodies play a central role in caring, and caring is central to leadership. Our bodies alert us to what and who is important to care for, guide us in sensing vulnerabilities and help us discern between competing calls on our care. Our bodies speak to us of our own physical and emotional limits, telling us when we ourselves are in need of care (should we choose to listen!). Such arguments run counter to traditional leadership and ethical theories which consider bodies and being open to caring as disruptive, not conducive, to effective leadership.

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