The Being of Leadership

Rikke Gjedsted Jørgensen & Mette Schou Vestergaard

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesis aims at investigating the being of leadership in relation to the leader’s practices and the relations that leaders engage in. It investigates leadership based on an understanding of Being that derives from the concept of Dasein created by Martin Heidegger. Hence, this notion of Being is the foundation for the understanding of leadership and the leader’s relation to her own self. The practices of the leader are uncovered in regard to the dynamics, which persist in an organisation, and in regard to practices that pertain to management and to leadership. The leader’s Being is ideally characterised by the fact that, that Being is a constant issue for her wherefore she constantly relates to her own Being and to her Being-in-the-world. It is therefore argued that she constantly engages in an etho-poietic process where she relates her own Being to the values that she possesses. In this sense she strives towards practicing herself from a mode of dwelling where her practices will be a natural part of her Being. As she practices on this foundation she will experience herself as authentic since she is able to relate her practices to her understanding of herself. If she is not able to fulfil her desire to practice from the mode of dwelling she will practice from the mode of building, which means that her practices will be based on a mere theoretical understanding of herself and the relations she is part of. The relation that the leader has to her own self is characterised by a care which is the essential part of her Being, as all her practices can be reduced to this care. The care of the self is thus a prerequisite for the relations that she has to her employees and to the organisation. The relation the leader has to her employees is characterised as solicitude and the relation to the organisation as concern. The leader is in a constant tension between these three relations as she always considers the care she has for herself, the solicitude she has for her employees and the concern she has for the organisation. The leader must therefore understand leadership through her relations and the relations she can observe within the organisation since this constitutes the practices of leadership. It is therefore important that the leader understands the importance of culture and relations constitute that she engages her own Being in the culture, as she would otherwise be unable to gain insight in the levels that the culture consists of as far as culture. Leadership must be considered a reflective practice wherefore the leader must constantly ensure her own Being when practicing leadership. She can do so by considering four existentials that conceptualise and facilitate a reflection of leadership practices. The four existentials are; Care of the self, Sustainment of authenticity, Normative Exemplification and Cultural Sensitivity.

EducationsMsc in Business Administration and Philosophy, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2016
Number of pages103
SupervisorsOle Fogh Kirkeby