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 13: Through the prism of Sartre: taking care of our existential freedom

Peter Bloom


This chapter draws on the existential philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre to reconsider the relationship between care, freedom and leadership. Using his famed concepts of bad faith and nothingness, it explores existential freedom as linked to an ethos of caring for oneself and others. For this purpose, it associates notions of holistic care to Sartre’s idea of a productive nothingness that continually obligates caretakers to care not only for our current but also our possible future selves. It shows relational care perspectives as a powerful leadership ethos, through helping people form the mutual support networks needed to overcome our bad faith in a status quo in favour of new and more empowering forms of existence. To this end, it reveals the importance of individually and collectively taking care of our existential freedom.

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