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 11: Negative Capability and care of the self

Charlotte von Bülow and Peter Simpson


This chapter considers caring leadership through the twin prisms of Negative Capability and Care of the Self, arguing that an aspiration to practise caring leadership involves a commitment to the development of self-knowledge and the capacity to be without. It presents an example of leadership in the prison service to illustrate how a phenomenological inquiry into one’s experience of self may serve to heighten the quality of attention that leaders give in complex situations. In a sector increasingly dominated by systems and driven by targets and performance indicators, this case reveals a dedication to re-humanising leadership by challenging the organisation to recognise that being human matters. This means developing a capacity for courage, trust and care in order to make decisions that are not driven by personal agendas, universal regulations of so-called best practice, or the fear of failure.

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