Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Developing the leader's negative capability: Mobilising attention for the greater good

French, Robert; Simpson, Peter

Authors

Robert French robert.french@uwe.ac.uk



Abstract

The development of Negative Capability, as described by the poet Keats, can contribute to a quality of attention in leadership practice that encourages greater consideration of the common good. Current societal and organizational realities demand managerial capacities and capabilities which are based on more than just knowledge. Despite an awareness that wisdom can be lost in knowledge and information, the latter tends still to be promoted as the central aspect of the development of leaders. Meanwhile, as a society we appear to have forgotten the forms of wisdom that keep us in touch with the common good. Whilst recognising the need for knowledge to engage with the challenges of leadership, we are concerned with those aspects of the leader's role where the practice of attention outweighs knowledge in importance. In this we build on our previous explorations of attention and Negative Capability. We offer here a space for reflection to consider ideas with which we are already familiar but that tend to be marginalised. For example, the modern use of the term theory – inextricably linked to knowledge – has lost touch with its ancient roots in forms of knowing based on contemplative observation. In different ways attempts have been made to reconnect with credible alternatives from a range of wisdom literatures. However, these attempts at a re-turn urgently require further thought and exploration because the focus of modernity on the pre-eminence of knowledge is pervasive and resistant to questioning, let alone change.

Citation

French, R., & Simpson, P. (2017, July). Developing the leader's negative capability: Mobilising attention for the greater good. Paper presented at 33rd European Group for Organization Studies (EGOS) Colloquium 'The Good Organization'

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (unpublished)
Conference Name 33rd European Group for Organization Studies (EGOS) Colloquium 'The Good Organization'
Start Date Jul 6, 2017
End Date Jul 8, 2017
Acceptance Date Feb 28, 2017
Publication Date Jul 1, 2017
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords leadership, negative capability, attention, ethics
Additional Information Title of Conference or Conference Proceedings : 33rd European Group for Organization Studies (EGOS) Colloquium 'The Good Organization'