You are on page 1of 20

Leadership

http://lea.sagepub.com/

The caring leader − What followers expect of their leaders and why?
Yiannis Gabriel
Leadership published online 1 May 2014
DOI: 10.1177/1742715014532482

The online version of this article can be found at:


http://lea.sagepub.com/content/early/2014/04/28/1742715014532482

Published by:

http://www.sagepublications.com

Additional services and information for Leadership can be found at:

Email Alerts: http://lea.sagepub.com/cgi/alerts

Subscriptions: http://lea.sagepub.com/subscriptions

Reprints: http://www.sagepub.com/journalsReprints.nav

Permissions: http://www.sagepub.com/journalsPermissions.nav

>> OnlineFirst Version of Record - May 1, 2014

What is This?

Downloaded from lea.sagepub.com at UCSF LIBRARY & CKM on December 5, 2014


XML Template (2014) [24.4.2014–4:44pm] [1–19]
//blrnas3/cenpro/ApplicationFiles/Journals/SAGE/3B2/LEAJ/Vol00000/140007/APPFile/SG-LEAJ140007.3d (LEA) [PREPRINTER
stage]

Article
Leadership
The caring leader – What 0(0) 1–19
! The Author(s) 2014

followers expect of their Reprints and permissions:


sagepub.co.uk/journalsPermissions.nav
DOI: 10.1177/1742715014532482
leaders and why? lea.sagepub.com

Yiannis Gabriel
University of Bath, Bath, United Kingdom

Abstract
This paper examines the moral standing of leaders not from any particular philosophical or political
vantage point, but rather from that of the followers. Followers expect leaders to be competent just
as they expect professionals and others; but they also expect leaders to provide moral leadership.
Followers frequently judge leaders by standards of morality that are considerably harsher than
those by which they judge other people; they may also forgive leaders sins that they would not
forgive in others. As a result, leaders are often cast in black and white terms as either saints or
devils. The paper argues that criteria used to judge leaders are rooted in fantasy and myth as well as
early life experiences, and goes on to highlight the archetype of the caring leader. This is a leader
who offers personalized attention to his/her followers and is willing to go beyond the call of duty in
dispatching his/her responsibilities. The paper then links the ethical archetype of the caring
leader with some current discourses on the ethics of care and the obligations it creates for a
caring leader. Using some illustrations from hospital leadership, the paper concludes by identifying
some of the difficulties that leaders face in meeting the exigencies of an ethic of care.

Keywords
Followers, care, ethics, ethic of care, moral leadership, psychoanalysis, servant leadership,
post-heroic, archetypes, idealization

Few issues have proven as burning, enduring and contested as the moral standing of leaders
– an issue that preoccupied some of the greatest political minds in history, from Plato to
Machiavelli, and from Gandhi to Martin Luther King. This issue has rightly also been
central to the concerns of many of today’s leadership scholars (Burns, 1978; Ciulla, 1998/
2004; Kellerman, 2004; Maak and Pless, 2006; Olivier, 2012; Reed, 2012; Thoms, 2008;
Wray-Bliss, 2013). In particular, the thorny question of whether leadership is in its essence
a moral concept remains highly contested. Can a ‘successful’ leader be a morally flawed or

Corresponding author:
Yiannis Gabriel, University of Bath, Claverton Down, Bath BA2 7AY, United Kingdom.
Email: y.gabriel@bath.ac.uk

Downloaded from lea.sagepub.com at UCSF LIBRARY & CKM on December 5, 2014


XML Template (2014) [24.4.2014–4:44pm] [1–19]
//blrnas3/cenpro/ApplicationFiles/Journals/SAGE/3B2/LEAJ/Vol00000/140007/APPFile/SG-LEAJ140007.3d (LEA) [PREPRINTER
stage]

2 Leadership 0(0)

even an amoral person? And if a leader is to be judged in the first instance as a moral agent,
what Archimedean point of morality can act as the basis for such judgements? Could it be,
for instance, a utilitarian perspective where the leader’s actions are judged by their conse-
quences, a deontological perspective where they are judged by the leader’s sincere motives, or
even a virtue perspective where they are judged by the totality of a leader’s character as it
reveals itself in different circumstances?
In this paper, I shall offer a discussion of the moral standing of leader not from any
particular philosophical or political vantage point, but rather from that of the followers.
Followers, I will argue, expect leaders to be competent, just as they expect professionals and
others. They expect them to be knowledgeable, to have vision, to communicate effectively, to
build strong teams and so forth. Beyond these expectations, however, followers also expect
their leaders to provide ‘moral’ leadership. In this, I will argue that followers frequently
judge leaders by standards of morality that are considerably harsher than those by which
they judge other people. Yet, in a paradoxical way, followers may also forgive leaders fail-
ings and sins that they would not forgive in others. As a result, leaders are often cast in black
and white, often viewed as either saints or devils. The paper will demonstrate that the criteria
used to judge leaders are rooted in fantasy and myth, as well as early life experiences that
leave residues liable to be re-awakened in later life. I will argue that these elemental criteria
are ‘archetypes’ (Jung, 1968; Kociatkiewicz and Kostera, 2012), of which one especially
significant one is that of the ‘caring leader’, epitomized in images like that of Christ as a
good shepherd. Leaders, I shall argue, will always be judged by their followers against their
ability to demonstrate that they care.
In light of this, the moral standing of leaders – always in the eyes of their followers – can
be linked to the ethics of care, a perspective that has assumed increased currency in phil-
osophy, psychology and politics, but not organizational studies, an ethics that emphasizes
the inter-relatedness of human beings and highlights the importance of attentiveness, empa-
thy, responsiveness and responsibility for others. Being cared for is a fundamental aspect of
every human’s early life experience when they are dependent on others for their survival and
well-being and one that, in the view of ethics of care theorists, later sets the moral compass
for at least many people. I will conclude the paper by highlighting how a responsibility to
care for their followers leaves leaders with several fundamental dilemmas, including whether
all followers be treated equally or whether each should be treated according to his/her need.

Leaders and managers


In reflecting on the ethical standing of leadership, a useful starting point is to contrast
leadership and management (Zaleznik, 1977), an always problematic distinction but one
that throws the two into sharply contrasted ethical positions. MacIntyre, in a view that
has become part of a wider discourse, argued convincingly that the manager, along with
the therapist are two of the dominant cultural archetypes of our times.
‘‘The manager represents in his character the obliteration of the distinction between manipula-
tive and nonmanipulative social relations; the therapist represents the same obliteration in the
sphere of personal life. The manager treats ends as given, as outside his scope; his concern is with
effectiveness in transforming raw materials into final products . . . The therapist also treats ends
as given, outside his scope; his concern is also with technique, with effectiveness in transforming
neurotic symptoms into directed energy, maladjusted individuals into well-adjusted ones.’’
(MacIntyre, 1981: 30)

Downloaded from lea.sagepub.com at UCSF LIBRARY & CKM on December 5, 2014


XML Template (2014) [24.4.2014–4:44pm] [1–19]
//blrnas3/cenpro/ApplicationFiles/Journals/SAGE/3B2/LEAJ/Vol00000/140007/APPFile/SG-LEAJ140007.3d (LEA) [PREPRINTER
stage]

Gabriel 3

Managers, along with therapists, both represent professions uniquely in tune with our
times, that is professions that have attained considerable legitimacy on the back of technique
alone, claiming the immunity of those exclusively concerned with means and maintaining a
stubborn indifference to questions of morality, politics and ends. In this regard, the morality
of the managers, like the morality of therapists, or that of economists or plumbers, is largely
immaterial to their constituents; they are judged essentially by results, their ability to use
their knowhow to solve problems and get things done efficiently. To the extent that they are
practical agents, managers are just like other people; their morality is the subject of descrip-
tive ethics. Thus Fineman (1998), Jackal (1988) and Watson (1994) in their different ways
discovered that, when confronted with ethical issues, managers are neither moral illiterates
nor as immoral robots, but fallible and at times confused agents seeking to accommodate
diverse demands made upon them.
Leaders, however, are different. We expect our leaders to lead the way, to show moral
courage and to embody and articulate values beyond that of efficiency. We expect leaders to
talk to us, to address our concerns and to listen to us. Rule by technique alone does not
count as leadership, hence technocrats, determined to stick to that role, are not leaders.
Sometimes, we expect our leaders to see clearly, to possess a certain conviction and reso-
luteness represented by that overused and abused word, vision. Managers may be morally
confused, but confused people cannot be said to possess vision. We also expect our leaders to
have moral courage – in other words, to be prepared to stand up for what they believe,
against opposition and ridicule. We expect our leaders to care – not just in an impersonal
manner ‘about’ a project or ‘about’ the bottom line, but ‘for’ the organization and its people,
indeed for each and every follower. In these regards we expect leaders to care not as
professionals (Ciulla, 2009), but as leaders.

Good leaders, bad leaders


The distinction between good and bad leaders reveals a fundamental experiential dichotomy
that sets leaders apart from other individuals or groups, like plumbers, therapists and man-
agers. They too can be described as good and bad, but such distinctions are based on their
professional competence, their skills and abilities. Good leaders, on the other hand, are set
apart from bad leaders not merely in terms of competence but in terms of their success or
failures to live up to certain standards that are often unspoken, uncodified and shifting. They
are standards that are often considerably higher than those by which we would judge most
other people. For example, a deception, a change of mind or even a lie may be excusable in
most people as temporary aberrations but may taint a leader’s reputation for life. A leader’s
numerous and substantial achievements may be nullified by a single instance where she or he
is shown to have acted unethically, to have lied, deceived or disregarded the well-being of her
or his followers. A dentist, a manager or a therapist who cheats on his or her partner or
watches pornography would scarcely be discredited in the eyes of his or her clients. A leader
who does so is much more likely to have his or her integrity and credibility as a leader
questioned.
If leaders are judged by stricter moral standards than other people, it is partly because
their moral failings can easily translate into group and organizational failures. Thus an
authoritarian leader who lacks the courage to change course when circumstances require
it, since it would be seen as a sign of weakness, may be the cause of major military or
political disasters (Dixon, 1976; Grint, 2014). Likewise, a narcissistic leader solely

Downloaded from lea.sagepub.com at UCSF LIBRARY & CKM on December 5, 2014


XML Template (2014) [24.4.2014–4:44pm] [1–19]
//blrnas3/cenpro/ApplicationFiles/Journals/SAGE/3B2/LEAJ/Vol00000/140007/APPFile/SG-LEAJ140007.3d (LEA) [PREPRINTER
stage]

4 Leadership 0(0)

preoccupied with his or her image and oblivious to warnings signs of failure and corruption
can precipitate organizational decay and death (Cluley, 2008; Islam, 2014; Schwartz, 1990).
All the same, it seems to me that our readiness to judge leaders from an ethical vantage
point, the severity and even the inconsistency of our judgements of leaders, and our feelings
of betrayal and outrage when leaders are judged to have done wrong point to something
deeper and more fundamental. A leader may occupy a position, as Grint (2000, 2005) very
appropriately points out, but this position is not only an external one at the head of a group
or an organization; it is also an internal one, a position in our minds which demands to be
occupied and whose occupant, thereafter, becomes the carrier of numerous powerful and
unconscious fantasies (Baum, 1987).1 A leader is, for this reason, one of the cast of arche-
types that populate our mind, someone who may be a saint in some plotlines, a devil in
others, a devious schemer in others and a sacrificial lamb in yet others. This is how we
encounter the leader in myths, stories, fairytales and other narratives that give expression to
collective fantasies. Archetypes, as Jung (1968) argued, are elements of the great stream of
ideas and images that flows through the soul of every human being, surfacing from time to
time in dreams, images, fantasies, stories, ecstatic and other experiences. Above all, arche-
types surface in enduring myths and narratives.
Several scholars have explored the mythical dimension of leaders in organizational life.
Bowles (1989, 1990), an early pioneer in this area, argued that as religious world views are
displaced by scientific and economic ones, mythology loses its sacral associations and
assumes instead secular analogues. Thus myths about religious leaders are supplanted by
myths about business leaders, heroes like Steve Jobs or villains like Kenneth Lay. Other
characters that feature in such myths are tricksters (Turner, 1986), rescue objects, sleeping
beauties, white knights (Hirsch, 1986) or even holy fools (Kets de Vries, 1990). Overall,
however, Bowles was of the view that managerial mythologies are generally weak and super-
ficial, failing to rise much above mere ideology. As a result, their ability to stir powerful
symbolic meanings and emotions is limited. More recently Grint (2010) has not merely
sought to reintroduce the sacred dimension in all leadership, religious and profane, but
has argued convincingly that all leadership entails three particular elements of the sacred,
whether these are acknowledged or not – a radical separation between leaders and followers,
a sacrifice of leaders and followers, and an ability by leaders to silence the anxiety and
resistance of followers. In so doing, Grint draws leadership back to the realm of archetypes,
immune to ‘correction’ by appeal to actual events and persistent in their fantastic qualities.
Inspired by Jung, Moxnes (1998, 1999) has argued that the characters of organizational
narratives enact deep unconscious roles drawn from a relatively small cast of 12 archetypal
or ‘deep’ roles whose origin lies in the essential family – father, mother, son and daughter.
These deep roles recur regularly in organizational mythology and real individuals come to
occupy these roles in specific narratives, thus drawing on the symbolic power of the original
archetype. A leader can then be experienced, after the father archetype, as benevolent god-
like father or, alternatively, as a devil. Under different circumstances, a leader may be
experienced and narratively cast as a prince (hero or clown), or indeed in any of the other
deep roles.
These archetypal light and dark sides of leadership have resurfaced recently in work done
by Kociatkiewicz and Kostera (2010, 2012) who have demonstrated that the concept of a
‘good manager’ is inevitably drawn toward the shadow of tragedy (see also Hatch et al.,
2005; Kostera, 2008a, 2008b). Leaders, according to this view, may resist being engulfed by
the shadow archetype, drifting from heroes to villains, by relinquishing some of their power,

Downloaded from lea.sagepub.com at UCSF LIBRARY & CKM on December 5, 2014


XML Template (2014) [24.4.2014–4:44pm] [1–19]
//blrnas3/cenpro/ApplicationFiles/Journals/SAGE/3B2/LEAJ/Vol00000/140007/APPFile/SG-LEAJ140007.3d (LEA) [PREPRINTER
stage]

Gabriel 5

accepting the paradoxical and even grotesque nature of organizational life by trading the
hero archetype for the archetype of the fool. Approaching the archetypal position of organ-
izational leaders in the unconscious fantasies of their followers, Gabriel (1997) analysed
numerous narratives in which followers come face to face with the supreme leader of their
organization. As one would expect from Grint’s and Kociatkiewicz and Kostera’s argu-
ments, such encounters trigger powerful unconscious fantasies in which leaders feature as
larger than life characters, on the basis of which Gabriel identified four clusters of fantasies
which enshroud leaders and against which leaders are judged. Each cluster of fantasies
represents an axis with a positive and a negative pole, determining how leaders are experi-
enced or constructed by their followers:

(1) The leader is omnipotent, unafraid and capable of performing miracles. Omnipotence
sometimes extends to omniscience, especially an ability to read the minds of his/her
subordinates and recognize true loyalty from flattery and sycophancy. Conversely, the
leader is weak, externally driven, afraid and fallible.
(2) The leader has a legitimate claim to power; this may be based on expertise, achievement
or the procedure followed for his/her appointment. Conversely, the leader is an impostor,
someone who usurped power and whose claims are fraudulent.
(3) The leader cares for his/her subordinates, offering recognition and support. He/she also
cares for the organization and for the collective good and is capable of sacrificing his/her
personal interest or even his/her life for the collective good. Conversely the leader is
selfish, indifferent to the plight of his/her subordinates and only cares for him/herself,
his/her career, benefits and power.
(4) The leader is accessible and can be seen and heard when needed, even if his/her appear-
ances constitute special occasions. Conversely, the leader is invisible, liable to disappear,
abandoning and betraying his/her followers, especially in times of stress and difficulty.

These bipolarities surface in organizational narratives, but can also be found in numerous
religious, mythological and other narratives. Importantly, actual leaders cannot be located
somewhere along a continuum represented by each axis – they are placed in one pole or in
the other. Thus a leader is not judged to be ‘quite powerful’ enjoying a ‘fair degree of
legitimacy’, being ‘reasonably caring’ and ‘fairly accessible’. Instead, she is all powerful or
all weak, all legitimate or a total impostor and so forth.

Leaders judged against archetypal fantasies


A leader then is liable to be judged according to whether she lives up to archetypal fantasies
rather than in a more nuanced and equivocal manner. Taking the first two fantasies first, we
note that followers expect the power, wisdom, courage and so forth of their leaders to be
used to promote collective ends, rather than the leader’s own selfish ends. In particular, the
leader’s power must be deployed to protect her followers and to overwhelm their collective
foes. It could be fair to say that leaders who use their talents to enhance their own careers of
to enrich themselves, a perception inexorably linked to the behaviours of many CEOs,
bankers and political leaders, are experienced as morally flawed. Such selfish uses of author-
ity also undermine a leader’s claim to legitimacy, which represents another fundamental
expectation of the followers. Leaders have a legitimate claim to rule by virtue of qualities
(power, wisdom, courage, etc.) which in the minds of followers set them apart, a point

Downloaded from lea.sagepub.com at UCSF LIBRARY & CKM on December 5, 2014


XML Template (2014) [24.4.2014–4:44pm] [1–19]
//blrnas3/cenpro/ApplicationFiles/Journals/SAGE/3B2/LEAJ/Vol00000/140007/APPFile/SG-LEAJ140007.3d (LEA) [PREPRINTER
stage]

6 Leadership 0(0)

strongly established by Grint (2010), as long as they continue to demonstrate that these
qualities are authentic and they are used to promote collective ends. A leader’s legitimacy
collapses if she/he fails to consistently demonstrate these qualities or if they are put to selfish
ends. The collapse of leader legitimacy is a crucial and spectacular political phenomenon,
seeming to afflict numerous political and other leaders, including, for very different reasons,
several of Britain’s recent prime ministers. In general, I would argue that the moral expect-
ations that issue from the first two fantasies are quite consistent with the idea of heroic
leadership, one that, in spite of its decreasing popularity among some scholars, continues to
dominate public discourses and presented as the panacea for various social and other ills
(Tourish, 2014).
Numerous authors (see, for example, Goldman, 2009; Lipman-Blumen, 2005; Tourish,
2013) have critiqued heroic leadership and its dysfunctional ramifications for groups and
organizations. What is revealing is that, in spite of its now well-recognized dysfunctions,
attempts to replace heroic leadership with others – distributive, collective, etc. – have not
been generally successful. As Grint (2010: 103) forcefully puts it ‘‘post-heroic alternatives
remain unviable (except in organizations that are very small scale or short term) because they
would undermine the sacred nature of leadership and that, in turn, would destabilize the
ability of an organization to function.’’ If the heroic archetypes underpinning leadership
have received quite substantial attention both from advocates and critics, far less attention
has been given to the archetypes that stem from the other two fantasies noted above – those
that cast the leader as caring, accessible figure. It is to these fantasies that the remaining part
of this paper is devoted.

The caring leader


The archetype of the caring leader has, in my view, received very inadequate attention from
scholars; even encyclopaedias and handbooks of leadership research rarely include entries on
care (for rare exceptions, see Ciulla, 2009; Simola et al., 2010). Yet, its importance can hardly
be exaggerated, whether talking about military leaders like Nelson, political leaders like
Mandela, religious leaders like Christ or the Dalai Lama or even business leaders such as
paternalistic capitalists in the Cadbury mould. A dominant theme in narratives of such
leaders is the various good turns they do to their followers, frequently going beyond the
call of duty. Thus, Jones and Gosling (2005) offer numerous vignettes of Nelson, the great
hero, going out of his way to console a grieving parent or to pass on a letter to an ordinary
sailor.
The metaphor of the good shepherd captures precisely the archetype of the caring leader.
This is found in the parable of Christ as the shepherd who will abandon 99 sheep in order to
search for the lost one (John 10:11–18; Luke 15:3–7), and in Plato’s (1993: 1.343a) Republic.
The caring leader is compassionate, giving and concerned for the well-being of his or her
charges, willing to go the extra mile to meet their needs and ensure that they flourish. If
power is the dominant feature of the heroic leader, love is the sine qua non of the
caring leader (Parry and Kempster, 2014). He or she is bound to the followers with a
bond that reaches beyond expedience and mutual benefit. It is a deeply emotional
bond that Freud (1921) had no difficulty in interpreting as a desexualized erotic one, one
in which libido becomes sublimated into powerful feelings of empathy, compassion and
solidarity that tie the followers with each other through a common experience of being
loved by the leader.

Downloaded from lea.sagepub.com at UCSF LIBRARY & CKM on December 5, 2014


XML Template (2014) [24.4.2014–4:44pm] [1–19]
//blrnas3/cenpro/ApplicationFiles/Journals/SAGE/3B2/LEAJ/Vol00000/140007/APPFile/SG-LEAJ140007.3d (LEA) [PREPRINTER
stage]

Gabriel 7

A loving, caring leader is also accessible and visible, especially in times of stress and crisis.
An inaccessible leader, one who is not there when needed, is one that all too easily is
identified with one who felt to desert his/her flock and betrayed his/her duty of care. ‘‘My
leader has abandoned me. I am standing in utter darkness. I cannot take another step alone.
Help me,’’ says the protagonist of Hermann Hesse’s (1920/1969: 122) Demian, a cry of the
heart, common in moments of confusion and doubt. Thus Mayor Giuliani’s political for-
tunes changed dramatically, albeit briefly, thanks to his high visibility in the immediate
aftermath of the 11 September 2001 attacks,2 evidence of the importance of the leader’s
presence in moments of stress. Contrast too Churchill’s readiness to visit sights of bomb
damage during WW2 with Hitler’s stubborn refusal to do so (Speer, 1971: 409). A leader
who is absent or aloof triggers fantasies of abandonment, betrayal and desertion, reinforcing
the feeling that he/she does not genuinely care for his/her followers.
At the level of archetypes the caring leader may be even more significant than the heroic
leader. A leader who is experienced as not caring can hardly be viewed as a true leader or as a
moral agent. In fact, I would go as far as to say that caring outweighs any other consider-
ation regarding the moral obligations of leaders in the eyes of their followers – a leader may
be strong, may be legitimate, may be competent but, if she is seen as ‘not caring’, she is likely
to be viewed as a failing leader. Thus, not every leader is caring, but nearly every leader, I
would argue, would lose his legitimacy if they were perceived as ‘uncaring’ – in other words,
at the level of archetypes all leaders are expected to display some degree of caring. Given the
power of this archetype, it seems to me surprising that it has not attracted more attention
among scholars studying leaders and followers. This is especially so, given the rise of interest
in care and compassion as core elements of organizational life (see, for example, Lawrence
and Maitlis, 2012; Rynes et al., 2012). Over the last 20 years or so, many theorists in social
policy, healthcare studies and educational studies have emphasized care, due in part to the
aging populations of Western societies and breakdowns of traditional structures for caring
for the young, the old and the chronically ill (Hochschild, 2012).

Ethics of care
During this period, an important discourse emerged in psychology, philosophy and politics,
following the publication of Carol Gilligan’s (1982) book In a different voice. Gilligan’s deci-
sive contribution was to reclaim a moral voice that had not been heard previously, by challen-
ging her mentor’s Lawrence Kohlberg’s (1981) account of children’s moral development.
According to Kohlberg’s work, drawn primarily from the study of young boys, the destination
of moral development for all humans is a concept of moral justice revolving around abstract
principles and rules that apply equally and impersonally to all. On the basis of her own field
work with children, Gilligan argued that this ideal of morality (which is consistent with Rawls’
(1973) theory of justice) is deaf to a different moral voice, one much more in evidence in young
girls, and one that revolves around caring for those in one’s immediate groups and networks.
Kohlberg’s predominantly male conception of morality, Gilligan argues, fails to honour the
distinctly female voice on moral matters, one that is personal, immediate and direct, based on
ongoing relationships rather than abstract ethical considerations. Care ethics grows out of
people acting, not as sovereign individual actors, but as members of communities and net-
works that require constant effort and nurturing to sustain.3
While the concept of care (Sorge) plays a central part in Heidegger’s philosophy (Tomkins
and Eatough, 2014), it is since Gilligan’s pioneering work that ethics of care has rapidly

Downloaded from lea.sagepub.com at UCSF LIBRARY & CKM on December 5, 2014


XML Template (2014) [24.4.2014–4:44pm] [1–19]
//blrnas3/cenpro/ApplicationFiles/Journals/SAGE/3B2/LEAJ/Vol00000/140007/APPFile/SG-LEAJ140007.3d (LEA) [PREPRINTER
stage]

8 Leadership 0(0)

developed through numerous contributions in philosophy, psychology and politics, mostly


but not exclusively by feminist theorists (e.g. Held, 2006; Kittay and Feder, 2002; Noddings,
1986; Ruddick, 1989; Tronto, 1993). In contrast to the ‘ethics of justice’, ethics of care
theorists argue for a different system of morality, one that does not rely on claims of uni-
versality, absolute judgements of right and wrong and perfect virtues. Instead, they identify a
practical morality that grows out of a recognition that all people are embedded in different
webs of social relations, being dependent on others for their survival and well-being and
capable of supporting others in their moments of need and helplessness.
Care is attending to the needs of others to whom we feel close and for whom we are
prepared or expected to take responsibility. It is not a scripted emotional performance but
involves a wide range of actions, concerns, utterances and feelings that grow out of sensi-
tivity and concern for the needs of those close to us. A fundamental aspect of the ethics of
care is that those close to us and in direct contact with us are experienced as entitled to more
care and attention than those distant and unknown.
Those who conscientiously care for others are not seeking primarily to further their own indi-
vidual interests; their interests are intertwined with the persons they care for. Neither are they
acting for the sake of all others or humanity in general; they seek instead to preserve or promote
an actual human relation between themselves and particular others. (Held, 2006: 12)

While there are many tensions and disagreements within the ethics of care discourse, there
is wide-spread acceptance of certain underlying themes that set it apart from other traditions
in ethics. Care is not an attitude or a virtue but a practice, ‘‘a species of activity that includes
everything that we do to maintain, continue, and repair our ‘world’ so that we can live in it
as well as possible’’ (Tronto, 1993: 103). Caring is relational and there are limits in the extent
to which it can be depersonalized or mechanized; machines may facilitate care work but
cannot replace the work of the carer (e.g. Sevenhuijsen, 1998). Caring for another person is
an individualized form of work – it relies on face-to-face interaction; in this sense, it resists
bureaucratization and formalization (e.g. Bubeck, 1995). Caring evokes complex emotions in
both the carer and the cared for; these include both positive and negative emotions, such
love, gratitude, envy, fear and anxiety, and are liable to entail ambivalence (e.g. Ruddick,
1989). Finally, caring and being cared for are vitally important, if problematic, aspects of
individuals’ identities (e.g. Meyers, 2002).
In spite of their importance, caring activities are in Western societies systematically deva-
lued, underpaid and disproportionately occupied by marginalized and underprivileged
groups (e.g. Tronto, 1993). Thus, care work (such as working in old people’s homes,
social services, but also schools, hospitals and so forth) is heavily gendered and racialized
as is domestic labour (looking after children, older and disabled individuals at home). In
spite of the considerable aptitudes and talents it demands (not least hard emotional work),
care work is widely viewed as low skill and low cost (Lloyd, 2006). In a culture that lionizes
the sovereign consumer who spends her money as she pleases (the figure familiar to us from
the service triangle), the individual dependent on the care of others cuts a distinctly dejected
figure. Being cared for, whether by relatives, by the state or by other organizations, cannot
shake off its associations with dependency, decay and failure. As Fraser and Gordon (1994)
have demonstrated, the concept of dependence has gradually been narrowed down to rep-
resent a failure of individuals in contrast to the supposedly independent and sovereign Anglo
male wage-earner. The carer as well as the cared for are tarnished by this association with
dependence. In a prototypical way, the caring mother as much as the cared for child are seen

Downloaded from lea.sagepub.com at UCSF LIBRARY & CKM on December 5, 2014


XML Template (2014) [24.4.2014–4:44pm] [1–19]
//blrnas3/cenpro/ApplicationFiles/Journals/SAGE/3B2/LEAJ/Vol00000/140007/APPFile/SG-LEAJ140007.3d (LEA) [PREPRINTER
stage]

Gabriel 9

as enmeshed in dependency relations decidedly inferior to those ‘independent’ men, having


choices and going about their businesses as they please (Meyers, 2002). The mother’s caring
relationship to her child renders her dependent to a purportedly independent man who
assumes a privileged position in this relationship. Caring for others thus creates a secondary
or derivative dependency (Kittay, 1999; Fineman, 1995); it becomes a fetter, holding back
careers, identities and achievements and, above all else, restricting freedom. Yet, in spite of
such negative associations, a caring orientation to work and to others retains elements of
being a valued quality, even in our highly narcissistic and individualistic culture. A ‘caring
person’ may not be the commonest self-description seen in today’s inflated résumés but
remains the description of a valued and valuable person. And it is these caring qualities
that are seen as essential for leaders.
There have been numerous criticisms of the ethics of care discourse, philosophical, socio-
logical and psychological. Much of this discourse has focused on dyadic relations between
the carer and the cared for and can breed excessive dependency. Advocates of the Disabled
People’s Movement have resisted the word ‘care’, arguing that emotional connotations of
this concept inhibit the emancipatory project for independence and self-determination of
disabled people, denying them a voice and casting both carers and the cared for as the
marginalized and even ‘abjected’ other (Hughes et al., 2005). More generally, attempts to
develop a theory of politics and political institutions based on the ethics of care have been
disappointing as have attempts to translate them into political practice (Engster, 2004). We
are still some considerable way from knowing whether the ethics of care can provide a
realistic basis for a new politics. All the same, what is beyond doubt is that followers gen-
erally expect their leaders to act consistently in a caring manner. For this reason, a useful
distinction may be made between the ethics (plural) of care as a philosophical body of
argument which is as yet underdeveloped in connection with political theory and an ethic
(singular) of care as a set of values and orientations that may guide social and political
action. The ethic of care, then, can be conceptualized by analogy to the Protestant ethic
(Weber, 1958) or the Romantic ethic (Campbell, 1989), as a set of principles and values that
inform and guide judgements and actions, as well as providing an important vantage point
against which the actions of leaders are judged by their followers.

Leaders and the ethic of care


What then are the qualities of a leader when judged from an ethic of care perspective?
Leaders who care must, in the first place be visible, able to connect with their followers
(Gabriel, 1997); they must be willing to give generously their time, advice, recognition and
support and demonstrate that they are genuinely concerned for the realization of a mission
or a project. They must treat their followers with consideration and respect, rather than as
pawns on a chessboard. Leaders who fail the caring test, rule by treating others as means
to their own aggrandizement or by pretending to care but failing to live up to this when
the chips are down. Caring leaders do not merely respect their follower desires but display
a constant watchfulness over changing needs and aspirations in a way not dissimilar to
that of a watchful teacher or parent, alert to the emotional needs of her charges, offering
recognition and validation. Empathy (Ciulla, 1998/2004) is a very significant characteristic
of the caring leader as is the ability to offer constructive but objective feedback and to act
as toxic sponges protecting their followers from excess anxieties (Frost and Robinson,
1999).

Downloaded from lea.sagepub.com at UCSF LIBRARY & CKM on December 5, 2014


XML Template (2014) [24.4.2014–4:44pm] [1–19]
//blrnas3/cenpro/ApplicationFiles/Journals/SAGE/3B2/LEAJ/Vol00000/140007/APPFile/SG-LEAJ140007.3d (LEA) [PREPRINTER
stage]

10 Leadership 0(0)

As Gilligan has emphasized, an ethic of care is an ethic of voices and an ethic of relations.
Caring leadership is in its very essence relational (Uhl-Bien, 2006), the leader only assuming
her position, internal and external, in relation to her followers; yet, caring leaders, like
leaders in general, remain separate from their followers (Grint, 2010) and would therefore
be expected to listen to voices different from their own, without pigeonholing or prejudging
them. Although caring is consistent with an altruistic orientation, caring leaders are by no
means averse to conflict, hardness and resolution. Caring leaders are therefore not neces-
sarily ‘nice’ (Ciulla, 1998/2004), nor are they ‘soft’ in what would be described as a ‘touchy-
feely’ way. On the contrary, the real test for caring leaders comes when they have to fight in
order to defend those for whom they care, rather than opt for easy and convenient com-
promises (Gabriel, 2008). Far from being a soft and universally mild attitude, caring means
taking responsibilities for others and being prepared to take personal risks in discharging
such responsibilities. Nor would a caring leader always seek to please her followers, if doing
so would risk their well-being or even their survival. In this regard, a caring leader would
listen to the followers, aware that their voices are not always consistent with their interests.
The two most persistent requirements of the ethic of care that set it clearly apart from
other ethical vantage points from which leaders are judged are that their relations to their
followers are personal and that they should be seen to go ‘beyond the call of duty’ in
discharging their responsibilities. An ethic of care, therefore, eschews the principle of equal-
ity in the most blatant manner (see, e.g. Held, 2006). A leader will discriminate in favour of
his followers just as a mother will discriminate in favour of her child with modest concern for
the implications of this for others. A mother will barge to the head of every queue in the
interest of her child, she will bend every abstract moral principle if the interest of the child
demands it, since she views categorical imperatives and absolute norms as secondary to the
pressing needs of her child. In a similar manner, a caring leader may seek to address the
needs of the follower who has special needs and vulnerabilities (the ‘lost sheep’) even if this
means offering preferential treatment to that person. In every instance she will discriminate
in favour of her followers over the interests of abstract justice or those of anonymous others.

Illustrations
The qualities of a caring leader came in sharp relief in a piece of field research into hospital
leadership in which the author participated (Nicolson et al., 2011). Hospital leadership offers
a critical space in which to observe the ethic of care in its application, not only in relations
between leaders (clinical as well as administrative) and their followers, but more widely in the
relations between all clinical staff and the patients. No other environment exacerbates anxi-
eties and insecurities over large issues of life, death, pain and permanent dependence as that
of a healthcare system (Fotaki, 2010; Obholzer, 1994), anxieties that affect not only patients
but also staff at nearly all levels (Lökman et al., 2011) and no other environment places such
heavy responsibilities in the hands of people who almost invariably do not personally know
each other (Fotaki and Kenny, in press). What emerged consistently in this study was that
when asked to illustrate good leadership and good quality patient care, nearly all respond-
ents offered examples where the clinical leader offered personalized care that went beyond
what seen as the call of duty. I shall offer a few illustrative examples from this research to
highlight the nature and strength of moral judgements that stem from an ethic of care.
The first example is a story told by a male junior doctor during a focus group discussion
on leadership and patient care. The story was enthusiastically endorsed by other participants

Downloaded from lea.sagepub.com at UCSF LIBRARY & CKM on December 5, 2014


XML Template (2014) [24.4.2014–4:44pm] [1–19]
//blrnas3/cenpro/ApplicationFiles/Journals/SAGE/3B2/LEAJ/Vol00000/140007/APPFile/SG-LEAJ140007.3d (LEA) [PREPRINTER
stage]

Gabriel 11

in the discussion as being an excellent example of both good leadership and good
patient care.
A pregnant woman came in through A&E [Accident and Emergency]. She was having problems
with her pregnancy. I asked the registrar [senior clinician] what to do. They decided that the best
thing to do was get the woman scanned to find the problem. However, being a night shift there
were no porters to be seen and the scanning units were closed. I felt that the anxious woman
could not stay in A&E surrounded by drunks and druggies as it was inappropriate. Instead of
calling for porters, which would have taken time, I and the registrar moved the pregnant lady to
the maternity ward ourselves where we opened up a scanning unit to find out what was
wrong with the lady’s pregnancy. I was proud of the leadership that I had received from my
registrar; not every registrar would have done this but he solved the problem and delivered
good patient care in the process. The problems were resolved within an hour with only skeletal
night staff.’’
It is striking to note the contrast between the individualized care for the woman in
trouble who becomes a ‘lady’ in the course of the narrative and the indifference towards
the plight of the anonymous ‘drunks and druggies’ whose treatment was negatively
affected by the preferential treatment offered to the pregnant woman. On the one
hand, there is the deserving patient, the patient with a human face, the individual
with unique needs who evokes affection and sympathy. On the other hand, there is
the impersonal patient, who is often seen as undeserving and parasitical, who provokes
resentment and envy. It is also interesting how the narrative stays quiet about the
nature of the problems that afflicted the woman, as if these are irrelevant to the
story. What is relevant is her distress over the possibility of losing her baby. It is
telling too to note the expression of ‘pride’ in the ‘leadership’ displayed by the registrar
who acted, in effect, as a porter transporting the deserving patient and throwing the
hospital’s procedures out of the window in offering urgent and personal treatment. In
this way, the clinical senior was also seen as someone caring for his junior personally,
going beyond the call of duty to support him in what he felt was his own (as well as
the patient’s) moment of acute need and vulnerability. The theme of the senior being
present and available when a junior is confronted with a possible crisis was one that
surfaced throughout the field research.
The importance of personalized care as well as going beyond the call of duty is revealed
in another story related by a male registrar during an interview. This concerns a
woman whose baby had died during the last phase of pregnancy and the extract demon-
strates clearly the qualities of a caring professional and a caring leader of a team of
professionals.
We had [to] induce her because we did not want her to go home with a dead baby inside
her. It was a very, very painful and stressful scenario, it really, really was, it was horrible,
absolutely and it is very distressing, exceedingly, exceedingly distressing because, you know
the woman is going through all that pain of labour. I tried to make it a point that I was
present, present as much as I feasibly could during her emotional outbursts. I wanted her to
have all the support that she needed . . . I did get attached to the patient, being around her,
trying to get her care, even if it was out of hours, which means that when I was not meant
to be in the hospital. Now I think that some people will argue that, that is a bit over the
top, but it think that, I guess, I guess, that that is medicine for you, you know it is about
lives, and sometimes you have to make that extra effort, to make that person feel that little
bit more special.

Downloaded from lea.sagepub.com at UCSF LIBRARY & CKM on December 5, 2014


XML Template (2014) [24.4.2014–4:44pm] [1–19]
//blrnas3/cenpro/ApplicationFiles/Journals/SAGE/3B2/LEAJ/Vol00000/140007/APPFile/SG-LEAJ140007.3d (LEA) [PREPRINTER
stage]

12 Leadership 0(0)

The story continues with the clinician explaining that the induction failed and the dead
baby had to be delivered by Caesarean section, and afterwards
I was there with her, with the [dead] baby in her arms, and she was happy from the point of
view . . . and thanking me every now and then, which I said that she shouldn’t because it was my
job and one should do it. But she kept signalling the fact that not many people would do it the
way that I had and I that was very special.

This example demonstrates acute empathy for the patient expressed in a highly emotional
language. It also demonstrates even more powerfully than the earlier one that importance of
the physician being present and visible during the patient’s ordeal, even when his profes-
sional services were not strictly required, and when it might have been less stressful for him
to occupy himself with other matters. There is also an acknowledgement that such care
might be seen as ‘over the top’, since it cannot be delivered to all patients, a discomfort
indicating possibly that the ethic of care is at odds with the requirement that all patients
should be treated the same. This story continues as the doctor seeks closure for his own
ordeal.
[This incident] is something very, very special and dear to my heart. And these are those situ-
ations when you sit back and you reflect on your life and say, ‘‘wow I have done something
good, really, really something good and it is wonderful’’ . . . I saw her every single day on the
post-natal ward and obviously I made a point not to neglect her or neglect her partner, because
people assume that the only person going through the trauma is the woman who has actually
delivered, but they are a couple, and that needs to be understood so that was important as well.
And he appreciated that quite a lot. They went home; two weeks later, I did receive a lovely
letter, which kind of expressed a lot of gratitude, for what I had done for them.

If being visible is integral to the care delivered by a clinician to a patient in need, it is


equally important in a leader’s behaviour more generally. In response to a question regard-
ing effective leadership, the chief executive of the hospital in question singled it out as the
most important quality:
Visibility, in terms of being seen around the place, so go out wandering around the wards. The
best part of the role, quite candidly is, the best part about being the chief executive is, you can go
out and talk to patients, and that is what I really kind of enjoy . . . so there is something about my
presence and my profile. There is also something about being very clear and repeating the
message often enough so that it is clear in the organisation about what the organisation is
there to do.

Yet, paradoxically, in this same hospital, managers (in contrast to senior doctors) were
seen by clinicians precisely as failing to be present when they were needed. Asked what the
major failure of leadership in his hospital was, a junior doctor said during a focus group
discussion:
Absence . . . Management are often not there. They need to take command of the situation. Here
is the reasoning – management don’t take responsibility for their actions and there is a severe
lack of managerial [as opposed to clinical] leadership

This view that surfaced repeatedly during the field work contrasted the clinicians empha-
sis on an ethic of care with the managers’ failure to live up to it. And yet, an ethic of care,
while necessary, was not viewed as an adequate basis for leadership. In fact, as the final

Downloaded from lea.sagepub.com at UCSF LIBRARY & CKM on December 5, 2014


XML Template (2014) [24.4.2014–4:44pm] [1–19]
//blrnas3/cenpro/ApplicationFiles/Journals/SAGE/3B2/LEAJ/Vol00000/140007/APPFile/SG-LEAJ140007.3d (LEA) [PREPRINTER
stage]

Gabriel 13

extract below suggests, excessive caring may disqualify an individual from assuming top
leadership responsibilities.
Now David [a consultant] is really eccentric, he is not what you would naturally call a leader, but
people are really respectful . . . Because he really cares for patients . . . If he finds a junior doc or
nurse or anyone who is being unkind to an elderly patient then he is down on them like a ton of
bricks but his, his patent commitment to medicine and clinical care just inspires admiration and
great affection, hopefully. But he is very odd . . . Yes. So he is like a one off, so again . . . there are
different leadership styles which are appropriate in different situations but David of course could
never be a chief exec, he just wouldn’t be able to do it, so he would be hopeless there.

This account demonstrates an ambivalence over the ethic of care as the guiding ethical
principle in a leader. It may allude to a difference between the leader who is expected to act
ethically and the manager whose concern should be efficiency and technical side of service
delivery. By repeatedly casting David in the role of ‘eccentric’, the speaker suggests that an
ethic of care certainly evokes respect and admiration but is an impediment in running an
organization in a technically proficient manner.

Conclusions
The starting point of this paper was a concern over the moral standing of leaders in the eyes
of their followers. Leaders, unlike many other groups, I argued, are judged by their followers
not only in terms of standards of competence or the results which they help deliver but also
in terms of whether their actions meet certain ethical standards. These derive from uncon-
scious archetypes that cast leaders in almost super-human terms. Paramount among these is
the heroic archetype, that approaches leaders as all-powerful and all-knowing, and the
caring archetype that wants leaders to love their followers, offer personalized recognition
and support and be present in their moment of need. With the help of ethics of care theorists,
I suggested that personalized attention and a willingness to go beyond the call of duty are
fundamental expectations that followers have towards a caring leader. An ethic of care can
neither be the sole moral compass guiding leaders, nor is it a compass without ambiguities
and contradictions. Empathy, watchfulness, sensitivity to the needs of the followers, by
themselves can lead to seriously flawed decisions and failing leadership, but so too can the
heroic virtues, like courage, justice, prudence and magnanimity.
An ethic of care does not only apply to leaders but also to other social groups, notably
those imbued with a duty of caring for needy or disabled people. Yet, such groups, as has
been pointed out by many feminist and other scholars, the ones who care for children and
old people, the disabled and the traumatized, suffer considerable exclusion and discrimin-
ation. Caring for others severely curtails individual freedom and sets back career and other
opportunities. This then seems a paradox – people whom we expect to care are among the
lowliest in the status hierarchies, as well as those who are highest in the status hierarchies –
CEOs, Prime Ministers, Vice-Chancellors and so forth. When it is said of a ‘leader’, that
‘‘She does not care’’, habitually accompanied with ‘‘She only cares about herself’’, we
indicate a major moral failure and one that usually cannot be overlooked or forgiven, no
matter what other qualities she brings to the job. It is maybe this paradox that brings leaders
very close to servants, the ethic of care being very closely related to an ethic of service. This
idea was first proposed by Greenleaf (1978, 1977), but it is one that Greenleaf himself traced
to Herman Hesse’s novel The Journey to the East. The book describes a spiritual journey in

Downloaded from lea.sagepub.com at UCSF LIBRARY & CKM on December 5, 2014


XML Template (2014) [24.4.2014–4:44pm] [1–19]
//blrnas3/cenpro/ApplicationFiles/Journals/SAGE/3B2/LEAJ/Vol00000/140007/APPFile/SG-LEAJ140007.3d (LEA) [PREPRINTER
stage]

14 Leadership 0(0)

time and space to the East undertaken by members of a League. The journey is narrated by
one of the characters who, along many others, loses faith in the mission when one of the
servants, Leo, goes missing. Leo is the ‘perfect servant’ described as always prompt, gentle,
simple and unobtrusive, anticipating the needs of the League’s other members. Leo describes
to the narrator the Law of Service: ‘‘He who wishes to live long must serve, but he who
wishes to rule does not live long’’ (Hesse, 1932/1972: 55) he says, having explained that a
long life is one in which one’s life is interwoven in the lives of others. Following the dis-
appearance of Leo, the league disintegrates morally and spiritually, loses its purpose and
never reaches its destination. Later, we learnt that Leo was, in fact, the leader of the League
and his disappearance was meant to test the members’ faith in the mission. The story, thus,
demonstrates how Leo switches from a caring leader into a testing leader with devastating
consequences for the league. It can, therefore, be viewed as an allegory against the depend-
ence that excessive reliance on a caring leader creates, an interpretation that is at odds with
Greenleaf’s.
This offers a clear warning against idealizing the caring leader. Caring leaders as much as
heroic ones, when idealized by their followers, can have a paralysing effect. As every caring
parent knows, excessive caring can seriously inhibit the autonomy of followers, instilling
dependence and inertia. This is the reason why the vocabulary of care has been resisted by
those representing disabled people (e.g. Hughes et al., 2005). Ethics of care advocates, on the
other hand, would claim that caring for somebody is based on a recognition of their needs
which include a need for autonomy and, even sovereignty. This, however, is always difficult
to apply in practice – at what point does caring turn into overprotection and cosseting?
Winnicott’s (1980) notion of the ‘good enough mother’ may offer an insight into this
dilemma – the mother who, relying on her feeling and intuition, strikes a fair balance
between neglect and mollycoddling, sensing the amount of responsibility and autonomy
that enables her child to thrive. In a similar way, a caring leader may be able to strike a
balance in her handling of subordinates, containing their anxiety without, however, elim-
inating it to the point where they lapse into dependence and inaction.
Dependence and inaction are not the only challenges facing a caring leader. Equally
importantly, as some of the quotes above suggest, when taken to extreme an ethic of care
can become a recipe for discrimination and nepotism. Arguably, some of the worst cases of
nepotism are undertaken in the thoroughly well-intended effort to help and support those
closest to the leader, notably his/her family and closest associates.4 Again, the dilemma is not
dissimilar to that of a parent who may be tempted to discriminate against the healthy and
strong child in order to support the troubled and vulnerable one. This is a dilemma that
constantly confronts those with a duty of care and one that, arguably, sets the ethic of care in
opposition to the ethic of justice that requires equal treatment for all (Edwards, 2009).5
To summarize, leaders face a considerable force of expectations by their followers, who
scrutinize their behaviour and judge them not only in terms of their competence but also in
terms of how ethical their actions are seen to be. Chief among these expectations is that
leaders’ actions should be consistent with an ethic of care. This dictates that leaders should
love their followers, offer personalized attention and empathy them and go beyond the call
of duty to support and help them flourish. In spite of the weight of such ethical expectations,
living and acting consistently with an ethic of care is not easy for leaders (as indeed for
others). An ethic of care is frequently opposed by formidable forces. Chief among them are
four. First, instrumentality. An ethic of care is costly in terms of time, energy and effort and
can easily be overwhelmed in the maelstrom of ceaseless decision-making and crisis

Downloaded from lea.sagepub.com at UCSF LIBRARY & CKM on December 5, 2014


XML Template (2014) [24.4.2014–4:44pm] [1–19]
//blrnas3/cenpro/ApplicationFiles/Journals/SAGE/3B2/LEAJ/Vol00000/140007/APPFile/SG-LEAJ140007.3d (LEA) [PREPRINTER
stage]

Gabriel 15

management that leaders. Second, an ethic of care is frequently opposed by an ethic of


justice. The former dictates privileged treatment for those who need it and those who are
close to the leader, the latter dictating equal treatment for all. A leader can then easily find
herself with no safe moral options. Third, an ethic of care often is at odds with itself,
dictating conflicting courses of action. How much extra care should a leader dedicate to
the missing sheep without endangering the survival and growth of the remaining ones?
Finally, an ethic of care is at odds with the fundamental impersonality, individualism and
insecurity of our times, themselves outcomes of lionizing consumer choice in market envir-
onments (Fotaki and Kenny, in press). When loyalty and long-term commitments seem in
short supply in every aspect of social life, when freedom, choice and independence are
elevated above all moral values, what chance does an ethic of care that values relations,
commitments, dedication, gentleness, humility and duty stand?
And yet, in spite of such difficulties, an ethic of care maintains its vigour and vibrancy
when followers judge their leaders. This is what accords the caring leader its archetypal
qualities, qualities that endure across changing social and political circumstances. This is
the reason why, as this paper has sought to establish, leaders who consistently fail to dem-
onstrate that they care for their followers, no matter how successful they may be in the short
run are unlikely to be viewed as moral leaders or command their trust, affection and respect.

Declaration of Conflicting Interests


The authors declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or
publication of this article.

Funding
Author has worked on the article as a part of a large project funded by the Service Delivery
Organization of the National institute for Health Research Health project number (08/1601/137).

Notes
1. For the purposes of this argument, it is therefore not necessary to offer yet another definition of
leadership to the numerous existing ones. My approach is consistent with Grint’s (2000, 2005), in as
much as I accept the numerous paradoxes that are raised whenever we seek to reduce leadership to a
single definition and his fourfold typology of leadership as Person, Results, Process and Position.
My contribution lies in highlighting the ‘internal’ position of the leader in the minds of followers as
a figure of fantasy on which numerous idealized and other expectations are projected.
2. See Michael Powell, New York Times, 21 September 2007. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/21/us/
politics/21giuliani.html?pagewanted¼all&_r¼0
3. The question of whether moral reasoning of boys is different from that of girls, the former governed
by an ethic of justice, the latter by an ethic of care, is highly contested. A meta-analysis of fieldwork
findings by Jaffee and Shibley-Hyde (2000) found little support ‘‘for the claim that the care orien-
tation is used predominantly by women and that the justice orientation is used predominantly by
men’’. This is not an issue I shall address in this paper, although the concentration of women (and
minority groups) in the caring occupations is a crucial one for the latter part of the argument
presented here.
4. Indeed, an ethic of care for those close to one can be held responsible for some of the worst
atrocities perpetrated members of other groups.

Downloaded from lea.sagepub.com at UCSF LIBRARY & CKM on December 5, 2014


XML Template (2014) [24.4.2014–4:44pm] [1–19]
//blrnas3/cenpro/ApplicationFiles/Journals/SAGE/3B2/LEAJ/Vol00000/140007/APPFile/SG-LEAJ140007.3d (LEA) [PREPRINTER
stage]

16 Leadership 0(0)

5. Some care theorists would counter that an expanded ethic of care involves its own revised concept of
justice, one that does not stem from abstract principles of equality but from relational concepts of
need and harmony. See Held (1995).

References
Baum HS (1987) The invisible bureaucracy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Bowles ML (1989) Myth, meaning and work organization. Organization Studies 10: 405–421.
Bowles ML (1990) Recognizing deep structures in organizations. Organization Studies 11: 395–412.
Bubeck DE (1995) Care, gender, and justice. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Burns JM (1978) Leadership. New York, NY: Harper and Row.
Campbell C (1989) The romantic ethic and the spirit of modern consumerism. Oxford: Macmillan.
Ciulla JB (1998/2004) Ethics, the heart of leadership. Westport, CT: Praeger.
Ciulla JB (2009) Leadership and the ethics of care. Journal of Business Ethics 88: 3–4.
Cluley R (2008) The psychoanalytic relationship between leaders and followers. Leadership 4: 201–212.
Dixon N (1976) On the psychology of military incompetence. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
Edwards SD (2009) Three versions of an ethics of care. Nursing Philosophy 10: 231–240.
Engster D (2004) Care ethics and natural law theory: Toward an institutional political theory of caring.
Journal of Politics 66: 113–135.
Fineman M (1995) The neutered mother, the sexual family, and other twentieth century tragedies. New
York, NY: Routledge.
Fineman S (1998) The natural environment, organization and ethics. In: Parker M (ed.) Ethics and
organizations. London: Sage, pp. 238–253.
Fotaki M (2010) Why do public policies fail so often? Exploring health policy-making as an imaginary
and symbolic construction. Organization 17: 703–720.
Fotaki M and Kenny K (in press) Is consumer choice reducing the reliance on trust in public health
systems? The case of the National Health Service in England. Sociology of Health and Illness.
Fraser N and Gordon L (1994) A genealogy of dependency – Tracing a keyword of the United-States
welfare state. Signs 19: 309–336.
Freud S (1921) Group psychology and the analysis of the ego. London: Hogarth Press.
Frost P and Robinson S (1999) The toxic handler – organizational hero – and casualty. Harvard
Business Review 77: 96–106.
Gabriel Y (1997) Meeting God: When organizational members come face to face with the supreme
leader. Human Relations 50: 315–342.
Gabriel Y (2008) Latte capitalism and late capitalism: Reflections on fantasy and care as part of the
service triangle. In: Korczynski M and MacDonald C (eds) Service work: Critical perspectives.
London: Routledge, pp. 175–190.
Gilligan C (1982) In a different voice: Psychological theory and women’s development. Cambridge, MA:
Harvard University Press.
Goldman A (2009) Destructive leaders and dysfunctional organizations: A therapeutic approach.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Greenleaf RK (1977) Servant leadership: A journey into the nature of legitimate power and greatness.
New York, NY: Paulist Press.
Greenleaf RK (1978) Servant, leader & follower. New York, NY: Paulist Press.
Grint K (2000) The arts of leadership. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Grint K (2005) Leadership: Limits and possibilities. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Grint K (2010) The sacred in leadership: Separation, sacrifice and silence. Organization Studies 31:
89–107.
Grint K (2014) The hedgehog and the fox: Leadership lessons from D-Day. Leadership.
Hatch MJ, Kostera M and Kozminski AJ (2005) The three faces of leadership: Manager, artist, priest.
Oxford: Blackwell.

Downloaded from lea.sagepub.com at UCSF LIBRARY & CKM on December 5, 2014


XML Template (2014) [24.4.2014–4:44pm] [1–19]
//blrnas3/cenpro/ApplicationFiles/Journals/SAGE/3B2/LEAJ/Vol00000/140007/APPFile/SG-LEAJ140007.3d (LEA) [PREPRINTER
stage]

Gabriel 17

Held V (1995) Justice and care: Essential readings in feminist ethics. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
Held V (2006) The ethics of care: personal, political, and global. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Hesse H (1920/1969) Demian, the story of a youth. London: Panther Books.
Hesse H (1932/1972) The journey to the East. St Albans: Panther/Granada.
Hirsch PM (1986) From ambushes to golden parachutes: Corporate takeovers as an instance
of cultural framing and institutional integration. American Journal of Sociology 91:
800–837.
Hochschild AR (2012) The outsourced self: Intimate life in market times. New York, NY: Metropolitan
Books.
Hughes B, McKie L, Hopkins D, et al. (2005) Love’s labours lost? Feminism, the disabled people’s
movement and an ethic of care. Sociology-the Journal of the British Sociological Association 39:
259–275.
Islam G (2014) Identities and ideals: Psychoanalytic dialogues of self and leadership. Leadership.
Jackall R (1988) Moral mazes: The world of corporate managers. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Jaffee S and Shibley-Hyde J (2000) Gender differences in moral orientation: A meta-analysis.
Psychological Bulletin 126: 703–726.
Jones S and Gosling J (2005) Nelson’s way: Leadership lessons from the great commander. Boston, MA:
Nicholas Brealey.
Jung CG (1968) The archetypes and the collective unconscious. London: Routledge.
Kellerman B (2004) Leadership warts and all. Harvard Business Review 82: 40–45.
Kets de Vries MFR (1990) The organizational fool: Balancing a leader’s hubris. Human Relations 43:
751–770.
Kittay EF (1999) Love’s labor: Essays on women, equality, and dependency. New York, NY: Routledge.
Kittay EF and Feder EK (2002) The subject of care: Feminist perspectives on dependency. Lanham,
MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
Kociatkiewicz J and Kostera M (2010) Experiencing the shadow: Organizational exclusion and denial
within experience economy. Organization 17: 257–282.
Kociatkiewicz J and Kostera M (2012) The good manager: An archetypical quest for morally sustain-
able leadership. Organization Studies 33: 861–878.
Kohlberg L (1981) The philosophy of moral development: Moral stages and the idea of justice. San
Francisco: Harper & Row.
Kostera M (2008a) Mythical inspirations for organizational realities. New York, NY: Palgrave
Macmillan.
Kostera M (2008b) Organizational olympians: Heroes and heroines of organizational myths. New York,
NY: Palgrave Macmillan.
Lawrence TB and Maitlis S (2012) Care and possibility: Enacting an ethic of care through narrative
practice. Academy of Management Review 37: 641–663.
Lipman-Blumen J (2005) The allure of toxic leaders: Why we follow destructive bosses and corrupt
politicians – And how we can survive them. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Lloyd L (2006) A caring profession? The ethics of care and social work with older people. British
Journal of Social Work 36: 1171–1185.
Lökman P, Gabriel Y and Nicolson P (2011) Hospital doctors’ anxieties at work: Patient care as
intersubjective relationship and/or as system output. International Journal of Organizational
Analysis 19: 29–48.
Maak T and Pless NM (2006) Responsible leadership in a stakeholder society – A relational perspec-
tive. Journal of Business Ethics 66: 99–115.
MacIntyre A (1981) After virtue. London: Duckworth.
Meyers DT (2002) Gender in the mirror: Cultural imagery and women’s agency. Oxford: Oxford
University Press.
Moxnes P (1998) Fantasies and fairy tales in groups and organizations: Bion’s basic assumptions and
the deep roles. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology 7: 283–298.

Downloaded from lea.sagepub.com at UCSF LIBRARY & CKM on December 5, 2014


XML Template (2014) [24.4.2014–4:44pm] [1–19]
//blrnas3/cenpro/ApplicationFiles/Journals/SAGE/3B2/LEAJ/Vol00000/140007/APPFile/SG-LEAJ140007.3d (LEA) [PREPRINTER
stage]

18 Leadership 0(0)

Moxnes P (1999) Deep roles: Twelve primordial roles of mind and organization. Human Relations 52:
1427–1444.
Nicolson P, Rowland E, Lokman P, et al. (2011) Leadership and better patient care: Managing in the
NHS. Final report, National Institute for Health Research Service Delivery and Organisation
programme. Retrieved from http://www.healthandwellbeing.nhslocal.nhs.uk/strategies-policies/
nhs-guidelines-good-practice-examples/leadership-andbetter-patient-care. HMSO.
Noddings N (1986) Caring: A feminine approach to ethics & moral education. Berkeley, CA: University
of California Press.
Obholzer A (1994) Managing social anxieties in public sector organizations. In: Obholzer A and
Roberts VZ (eds) The unconscious at work: Individual and organizational stress in the human services.
London: Routledge, pp. 169–178.
Olivier A (2012) How ethical is leadership? Leadership 8: 67–84.
Parry K and Kempster S (2014) Love and leadership: Constructing follower narrative identities of
charismatic leadership. Management Learning 45: 21–38.
Plato. (1993) Republic. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Rawls J (1973) A theory of justice. London: Oxford University Press.
Reed GE (2012) Leading questions: Leadership, ethics, and administrative evil. Leadership 8: 187–198.
Ruddick S (1989) Maternal thinking: Toward a politics of peace. Boston: Beacon Press.
Rynes SL, Bartunek JM, Dutton JE, et al. (2012) Care and compassion through an organizational lens:
Opening up new possibilities. Academy of Management Review 37: 503–523.
Schwartz HS (1990) Narcissistic process and corporate decay. New York: New York University Press.
Sevenhuijsen S (1998) Citizenship and the ethics of care: Feminist considerations on justice, morality, and
politics. London: Routledge.
Simola SK, Barling J and Turner N (2010) Transformational leadership and leader moral orientation:
Contrasting an ethic of justice and an ethic of care. Leadership Quarterly 21: 179–188.
Speer A (1971) Inside the third Reich. London: Sphere Books.
Thoms JC (2008) Ethical integrity in leadership and organizational moral culture. Leadership 4:
419–442.
Tomkins L and Eatough V (2014) Stop ‘helping’ me! Identity, recognition and agency in the nexus of
work and care. Organization 21: 3–21.
Tourish D (2013) The dark side of transformational leadership: A critical perspective. London: Routledge.
Tourish D (2014) Leadership, more or less? A processual, communication perspective on the role of
agency in leadership theory. Leadership 10: 79–98.
Tronto JC (1993) Moral boundaries: A political argument for an ethic of care. New York, NY:
Routledge.
Turner BA (1986) Sociological aspects of organizational symbolism. Organization Studies 7: 101–115.
Uhl-Bien M (2006) Relational leadership theory: Exploring the social processes of leadership and
organizing. Leadership Quarterly 17: 654–676.
Watson TJ (1994) In search of management: Culture, chaos and control in managerial work. London:
Routledge.
Weber M (1958) The protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism. New York: Charles Scribner’s and Sons.
Winnicott DW (1980) Playing and reality. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
Wray-Bliss E (2013) A crisis of leadership: Towards an anti-sovereign ethics of organisation. Business
Ethics – a European Review 22: 86–101.
Zaleznik A (1977) Managers and leaders: Are they different? Harvard Business Review 55: 47–60.

Author biography
Yiannis Gabriel is Professor of Organizational Theory at Bath University. Yiannis has a
degree in Mechanical Engineering from Imperial College London, where he also carried out

Downloaded from lea.sagepub.com at UCSF LIBRARY & CKM on December 5, 2014


XML Template (2014) [24.4.2014–4:44pm] [1–19]
//blrnas3/cenpro/ApplicationFiles/Journals/SAGE/3B2/LEAJ/Vol00000/140007/APPFile/SG-LEAJ140007.3d (LEA) [PREPRINTER
stage]

Gabriel 19

post-graduate studies in industrial sociology. He has a PhD in Sociology from the University
of California, Berkeley. Yiannis is well known for his work into organizational storytelling
and narratives, leadership, management learning and the culture and politics of contempor-
ary consumption. He has used stories as a way of studying numerous social and organiza-
tional phenomena including leader-follower relations, group dynamics and fantasies,
nostalgia, insults and apologies. Another area of his work has been dedicated to developing
a psychoanalytic approach to the study of organizations. Yiannis is founder and coordinator
of the Organizational Storytelling Seminar series, now in its twelfth year (See http://www.
organizational-storytelling.org.uk/), the author of nine books and numerous articles. He is
Senior Editor of Organization Studies and has been editor of Management Learning and
associate editor of Human Relations. His enduring fascination as a researcher lies in what he
describes as the unmanageable qualities of life in and out of organizations.

Downloaded from lea.sagepub.com at UCSF LIBRARY & CKM on December 5, 2014