Chapter

Existentialism and Leadership

Mick Fryer

in Ethics and Organizational Leadership

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780199590186
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191724947 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199590186.003.0004
Existentialism and Leadership

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Some prominent themes in existentialist theory are outlined. These include Kierkegaard's preoccupation with choice; Nietzsche's challenge to universal bases for moral evaluation; and Heidegger and Sartre's endorsement of authenticity. Some implications that these ideas hold for leadership are spelled out. It is suggested that existentialism draws attention to the extent that our moral commitments are shaped by our environments, our prior experiences, and our agendas. Nevertheless, consideration of leadership through the lens of existentialism also underlines our freedom to choose how we respond to these influences. Attention is drawn to the possibility of tension between leaders' authenticity and that of followers. Contrasting responses to that tension are described; one of which is erosive of followers' authenticity, while the other is supportive of it.

Keywords: authenticity; choice; ethics; Heidegger; inauthenticity; Kierkegaard; leadership; Nietzsche; moral relativism; Sartre

Chapter.  9408 words. 

Subjects: Organizational Theory and Behaviour

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