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 9: A metamorphosis for leaders: caring in good faith

Jen Jones


This chapter presents a reading of Kafka’s Metamorphosis to underscore the dangers of the power asymmetries of care. Drawing on Hazel Barnes’ existentialism, it considers the problem of caring for one’s family in bad faith, i.e., keeping them unhealthily dependent and denied the space to work things out for themselves. Kafka’s example of caring in bad faith is a cautionary tale for leaders who have good intentions, but end up paving the path to Hell. Barnes opens up the possibility for a counterpart to this through relations of good faith. Yet, caring in good faith is not prescriptive, since the future and others’ radical subjectivity cannot be known. Leadership in good faith accepts and celebrates this ambiguity and absurdity. It involves caring deliberately, communicating and making the best choice in the moment without any guarantee that it will be the right choice.

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