Leadership and Existentialism: Building a Groundwork

Existentialist thought is an emerging area of significance to leadership learning. This in part appears due to leadership discourse being captured by the modern rationalist tradition; this tends to encourage leadership research to seek at times to present a coherent and unified understanding which some regard as unsatisfying or reductive. This dissatisfaction adds to the idea that leadership is a contested topic as well as open to new paths of enquiry. Existentialist thought offers a thematic that straddles rationalist and non-rationalist discourse as it gives privilege to the totality of existence. Such broad notions leave its links to leadership as tenuous. However, recent leadership research considers key existentialist notions as of renewed interest: such as, freedom, edification and authenticity. Leaders at least appear referent in their practice to these as well as other areas that existentialists find crucial to their 'basket of thought'. Further groundwork in linking these two areas appears a new opportunity for leadership enquiry. Key words Existentialism, leadership, self, authenticity, rationalism, post-rationalism, freedom
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