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 15: Caring leadership as collective responsibility: a dialogue with Arendt and Heidegger

Rita A. Gardiner

Abstract

What constitutes caring leadership within a university environment? In addressing this question, I examine current discussions on care, leadership and higher education before turning to explore Hannah Arendt’s ideas about care, which was an important aspect of her relational approach to leadership. She was adamant that this kind of leadership was rarely found in universities, further arguing that a kind of professional deformation pervaded academia, encouraging self-interest rather than collective well-being. Some professors live in a fantasy world, Arendt argued, failing to recognize how their actions demonstrate a care for self over a care for others. After exploring discourses of care and leadership, I illustrate her claim by examining how Martin Heidegger’s leadership actions demonstrate how privileging a particular vision can result in carelessness toward others. Finally, I show how an Arendtian approach offers insight into what it might mean to lead caringly.

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