A good cause needs to speak to the beliefs of individuals; an honorable cause speaks to the norms and perhaps virtues of people and a valid cause speaks to the ethical values of humans.
I cannot think of two topics that have more writings, opinions, blogs, models, systems, etc. than Philosophy and Leadership and throughout history, some of the best have turned out to be one and the same.
We see attempts in the philosophy of Leadership, philosophy of technology and ethics, AI ethics which mainly relate to human use of a given technological invention, and of course ethics is part of a larger philosophical system, as well as their leadership counterparts links to systemic elements of different leadership traditions.
As Ole Fogh Kirkeby says— any philosophy must at least have an ethics and an aesthetics to be a complete philosophical system. In the book “Secunda Philosophia” he describes his specific project of the book to be a philosophy of “the real-life”. Leadership is real life and it can be beautiful and ugly, but should at all times be ethical.
Luciano Floridi supplements our time with Philosophy of, Ethics of, and Logic of — Information. Leadership is highly dependent on just that: Information and the handling hereof in different settings be they commercial, pro-Bono, non-profit or as the Captain of a soccer team, etc.
No doubt, philosophy is linked to knowledge and wisdom seeking and the pursuit of gaining that is basically defined as:
Greek philosophia “love of knowledge, pursuit of wisdom; systematic investigation,” from philo- “loving” (see philo-) + sophia “knowledge, wisdom,” from sophis “wise, learned;” (online etymology dictionary)
Whereas the basic understanding of leadership is originally the task of leading a ship (command), to put a bit more flavor in the pot Peter Drucker defines leadership:
Leadership is to bring an individual perspective to the next level, to help the others to break through limits of oneself, in order to attain higher achievement. The definition of leadership is to have followers, and followers create leaders.
Philosophy, once an esteemed and honorable profession and incorporated discipline in society it has for many decades been seen as an academic discipline with little connection to real life. As with any other scientific fields’ philosophy have an abundance of different directions, no wonder as it is the mother of all sciences and hence have an “opinion” on near everything.
For the past couple of centuries, an increasing distancing has occurred due to the increase in specialization and the coming of first the industrial revolution and new economic models that have profoundly changed the general perception of what it means to live a successful life as a human and as a human among other humans. In our modern time, we treasure knowledge and wisdom but mainly from a commercial point of view, that is when we look outside academia.
It is evident that we still carry the desire for knowledge and wisdom in the commercial world, what is no less evident is that has quite different motivations than love (Philo), moreover, lust and greed would be more fitting adverbs.
Increase in global consciousness
In recent years we have however seen a rise in consciousness in the world, one that is typical in situations where groups, communities, and nations feel threatened by outside forces. But there’s a difference this time in comparison to the well-known situations — this time we are all under threat, not just a county there or a country here, it is multiple global threats and they are self-created (some even claim COVID19 fits the box of being man produced). This is reflected in both Leadership and Philosophy. At this point, I would list three major self-created threats that we potentially may even be able to do something about. As these are global challenges they require “Allness” in their solving, also because they themselves are tightly interconnected.
- The environmental crisis
- The technology development challenge
- Capitalism/financial system (liberalist and neo-capitalism)
The short and simple answers to “Why?” are:
- If we do not save our planet, we all perish
- If we are not more vigilant in technology development, we end in a 1984 scenario
- If we do not change the current capitalist system, the first two are not realizable
Then, at the same time, both brilliant and scary thing is — that we are all in this together, and hence solutions require “Allness”. And it should be obvious that we need people, people that are knowledgeable and in multiple domains and hybrids that can translate domain languages and synthesize thoughts and actions, we need wise people to enhance the wisdom in “Allness” — in short, we need philosophers of many sorts, as our systems are interconnected and inter-influenced. We need global leadership, and we are not yet quite sure what that is although we might have ideas inspired by e.g. WW2 Eisenhower, Churchill, and Stalin, maybe Gandhi, Kennedy, or King but not quite suitable to the current situation.
We need philosophy in many disciplines and transcendental leadership capabilities
The truly short conclusion is that we need wisdom and being knowledgeable does not automatically equate to being wise, just like being a capable manager does not equate being a leader, or being a competent specialist does not automatically make you a great manager nor leader. Wisdom and leadership are elusive phenomena’s that of course are related to talent, competence, knowledge, etc., but perhaps beyond anything else to passion and love. And people with these characteristics are often known as philosophers in our history. The decisive question is whether there will be leaders capable of promoting and relaying such complex interconnected challenges, and at present, it is hard to identify such — most likely they will emerge over the coming years.
Presently we are witnessing a growing number of fragmentations each supporting their own “secluded” cause and that is historical evidence of change in the making, and what signifies this tendency is typically thinking in either/or rather than both/and. We DON’T need more fanatics no matter how good a cause, we rather need thoughtful idealists and realists in Kantian terms maybe the best one word would be “transcendentalists” capable of stepping out of their own self and thought and both empathetically and sympathetically into other thought-selves and revert to inner contemplation and on top being the collective brand manager of these processes.
A good cause needs to speak to the beliefs of people, an honorable cause speaks to the norms and perhaps virtues of people and a valid cause speaks directly to the ethical values of humans.
If we are humans, we are humans before anything else and beyond mere existence and entity, we are social and ethical creatures — there can be no other more fundamental starting point.