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Caring Leadership: A Heideggerian Perspective

Tomkins, Leah; Simpson, Peter

Caring Leadership: A Heideggerian Perspective Thumbnail


Leah Tomkins


© 2015, © The Author(s) 2015. This paper develops the idea of caring leadership based on Heidegger’s philosophy of care. From this perspective, caring leadership is grounded in the practices of ‘leaping-in’ and ‘leaping-ahead’ as modes of intervention in the affairs of the world and the efforts of others. This involves gauging and taking responsibility for the ramifications of intervention, balancing the urge for certainty of outcome and visibility of contribution with the desire to encourage and enable others. Our analysis suggests several twists to contemporary leadership debates. We argue that the popular models of transactional and transformational leadership are to be critiqued not for their over-reliance but, rather, their under-reliance on agency. This is a different kind of agency to that of heroic or charismatic models. It involves tolerance of complexity and ambivalence; a rich sense of temporal trajectory; concern for one’s presence in the world; and crucially, the ability to resist the soothing normativity of ‘best practice’. From this position, we argue that the problem with the growing scholarly interest in an ethic of care is that it provides too tempting a recipe to follow. In a Heideggerian view, caring leadership has little to do with compassion, kindness or niceness; it involves and requires a fundamental organization and leadership of self.


Tomkins, L., & Simpson, P. (2015). Caring Leadership: A Heideggerian Perspective. Organization Studies, 36(8), 1013-1031.

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date May 7, 2015
Publication Date Aug 1, 2015
Deposit Date Feb 26, 2015
Publicly Available Date May 5, 2016
Journal Organization Studies
Print ISSN 0170-8406
Electronic ISSN 1741-3044
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 36
Issue 8
Pages 1013-1031
Keywords authenticity, best practice, care, caring leadership, discourse, Heidegger, intervention, knowing, temporality, transformational leadership
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Additional Information : Published online 07 May 2015.


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