Unmasking of Authenticity - 2018

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Leadership and the Unmasking of Authenticity BookcoverLeadership and the Unmasking of Authenticity

Behind-the-Page Interview with Brent Edwin Cusher and Mark A. Menaldo

Read Chapter 4 - Different purposes, different lives: Socrates' twofold presentation of his activity in Plato's Apology of Socrates (ILA Members only)

Read Chapter 5 - Leadership and the virtue of deception in Niccolò Machiavelli’s The Prince (ILA Members Only)


Michael Harvey

Michael Harvey is an Associate Professor of Organizational Leadership at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland. His research explores leadership as creative questioning. He is the co-editor, with Ronald F. Riggio of Leadership Studies: The Dialogue of Disciplines (2011). He served as co-editor-in-chief (2013-2017) of Leadership and the Humanities and as co-editor of a symposium issue of the Journal of Leadership Studies (Vol. 6, no. 4, Winter 2014), on leadership education across disciplines. He has a Ph.D. in Government from Cornell University, a Master’s in International Business from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and a B.A. in English from the University of Maryland.

Brent Edwin Cusher

Brent Edwin Cusher is Associate Professor in the Department of Leadership and American Studies at Christopher Newport University. He holds a BA in Political Science from Carleton College and a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Toronto, having focused on the history of political thought in both programs. Brent’s teaching and research interests concern themes in political leadership, especially in the contexts of ancient Greece and Rome. He is currently working on a project to clarify and interpret the image of the legislator in Plato’s political philosophy.

Mark A. Menaldo

Mark A. Menaldo is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Texas A&M University-Commerce. He received his B.A. in Philosophy and Sociology from Colorado College and Ph.D. in Political Science at Michigan State University. In 2011, he was awarded the Fredric M Jablin Doctoral Dissertation Award for his dissertation, “Putting Statesmanship Back Into Statecraft: The Role of Transformative Ambition in International Relations.” He is the author of Leadership and Transformative Ambition in International Relations (Edward Elgar, 2013) and his research has been published in journals such as the Journal of Leadership Accountability and Ethics and Leadership and the Humanities. Menaldo is originally from Mexico City.

Michael Harvey: It is a pleasure to be speaking today with Brent Cusher and Mark Menaldo, the editors of a wonderful new book in leadership studies, Leadership and the Unmasking of Authenticity, published by Edward Elgar Press. Gentlemen, hello.

Brent Cusher: Hello. Good afternoon.

Mark Menaldo: Hi, it’s good to be here.

Michael Harvey: Gentleman, your new book is an impressive and timely work of scholarship. It situates the question of authenticity, which has become such a significant topic in leadership studies, in the tradition of Western philosophic thought going back to Socrates. I want to begin by noting how apropos your book and this topic are. This year's upcoming ILA conference, the 20th Anniversary Global Conference, has as its theme Authentic Leadership for Progress, Peace & Prosperity. Your hot-off-the-presses book explores the same topic. Why do you think authenticity is of such great interest and emphasis right now?

Brent Cusher: Thank you, Michael. Taking the perspective from the field of leadership studies, I think authenticity is quite a timely theme. Authentic leadership seems to be something of the culmination of where leadership studies has been going up until this point. In terms of the development of our understanding of leadership and how we've studied leadership, you have a lot of early studies of management and similar fields that look at: What are the conditions for good leadership? What are the traits and attributes that you want to find in your leader? What do their behaviors look like?

If you look back to the Ohio State and University of Michigan studies that took place more than 50 years ago, there are all kinds of different questions that people ask, smaller, technical questions about who leaders are and what they do. Then, in 1978, James MacGregor Burns published his very seminal book,
Leadership, and affected what was a sea change in the study of leadership. He brought it to a, I think, much larger place and, I would argue, a more interesting place. His views on transforming leadership versus transactional leadership, the ethical dimensions of leadership, the value-based dimensions of leadership, his distinction between power wielders and leadership, really raised the stakes and puts things like, for example, very large social movements in the purview of leadership studies. He really changed the language that we use to talk about leadership. After the publication of that book, there was some debate about his ideas and there were some questions. Burns and colleagues went over these and teased out further what transforming leadership means. And, through that productive debate, this notion of authenticity kind of crept its way in. Over the course of time, it seems to have really dominated the field. For the 20th anniversary of the global conference, I think it's an appropriate theme to be exploring.

Mark Menaldo: I would just add that beyond leadership studies, contemporary society thinks obsessively about authenticity. We as individuals want to be authentic. We want to have authentic experiences and those experiences can range from deep psychological moments of finding ourselves and being true to ourselves to making sure we have the authentic Mexican food versus the inauthentic Mexican food or trying to have an authentic experience when we travel to an “exotic” country, by trying to avoid the tourist experience. It's become the measure of how we experience the world. In large part, we tried to address that in our book as an outgrowth of philosophy, especially in the modern moment.

Michael Harvey: Some of the filters between leaders and followers have dropped away; there is more of what seems to be unmediated communication between leaders and followers, which I suppose can make it seem that some of the masks have dropped away too. So, we're either in a truly more authentic moment — or a moment where leadership as it is performed seems more authentic. Several of your contributors suggest that this is a key aspect of modern life. John M. Warner, for instance, flags the “empty self-disclosure” — or even “narcissism” — of contemporary American culture. Mark, this picks up on what you were saying. It is not simply that there is an interest in authenticity today, it is that it is highly valorized. Authenticity is seen as an important part of one's presentation of self. With so many opportunities to post about one's status, to share pictures of oneself and the food one's eating, and to curate one's life online, I guess it's not surprising that authenticity has come to the fore in modern society.

Brent Cusher: That’s right. It's almost as if the question of what is good, or what is the good, has been replaced or has been answered by the terms authentic and authenticity. What is good for somebody now boils down to the authentic. And not just what is good for somebody, but what is good for society and what is good for relations with others. That seems to be a major presupposition of leadership theory and our approach to thinking about leadership today.

Mark Menaldo: Speaking off of Brent's point here and Michael's about curating yourself, we seem to be moving into a moment where to style yourself is the highest expression of who you are. And, if you think about the way we talk about leadership, we talk about styles of leadership — the style of the leader, the style of an individual. Today we speak more highly of influencers than we do, of say, intellectuals. The question is, why? Where is this language coming from? Why is it so powerful?

I think all roads somehow lead back to three of the more modern philosophers that we discuss in the book including Heidegger. Hans Pedersen, a philosopher, writes the chapter illuminating what Heidegger means by authenticity. The key notion here is, for Heidegger, authenticity is something like the most vivid experience of being oneself. And, the way Heidegger wrote about this — ever since, it has captured the imagination of psychologists and intellectuals and philosophers and cultural critics and artists. That sort of cold, mentalist understanding of philosophy gets subordinated to this expression of one's self as being in a relational matrix of history and culture. And, at the same time, as being able to tear away from it so as to be oneself in a way that is no longer captured by the traditional forms of philosophical discourse and thinking.

Michael Harvey: That's a great chapter that I can't wait to delve into more with you, but first I want to spend a little bit more time on the origins of the book. It seems that this book was born at an lLA conference. Could you tell us about that?

Mark Menaldo: Sure. I have a very vivid memory of not only meeting the two of you in person at that conference, but of attending a panel in which one of the panelists was speaking about authentic leadership. I remember that her discussion had a duality to it. On the one hand, she spoke of authenticity as a sort of ontological reality. This is the real stuff of the world. This is what human beings are like. At the same time, she would pivot and speak of it as a moral category — authentic is the thing one ought to be. So, it's the thing one is and the thing one ought to be at the same time.

Now, I had done a lot of work in my graduate training on Heidegger. And, when you read Heidegger's Being and Time if, by the end, you don't throw the book away and wish none of it were true, you really haven't read it thoroughly. [Chuckles] So I felt I had to question the panelist: Where exactly are you grounding this understanding of authenticity? Because the way I understand it — again, through Heidegger — you may not like what you see after accepting that as authenticity. As we know, Heidegger had a very cozy relationship with Nazi socialism and many of his critics see his ideas in Being and Time as creating the permissive conditions that led to that relationship.

Brent Cusher: Piggybacking off of Mark's comments, I've had similar responses and I've had similar feelings about the issue. My own particular story is just slightly different. I came into the field of leadership studies in 2010. I'd spent my whole life prior to that focusing on political science, political philosophy, and the great books of political theory. But, I happily found myself with a position in leadership studies. As I began teaching courses in that field, what I started to encounter in textbooks (that would be appropriate for first and second year university students) or in different readings and articles that students might read, was that authenticity was always just this thing that seemed to pop up — authenticity and all of the terms in this big constellation related to authenticity, terms like honesty and integrity and being one's self in front of one's followers as part and parcel of one's leadership. This just seemed to be the general counsel, almost as if it was just sort of there to be accepted.

I found it a peculiar thing. And, I found it very interesting when I would ask students about this and they would say, "Yeah, it generally seems OK." And then I would ask them certain questions and we might try to problematize it a little bit and try to see some of the subtleties and complexities of the issue of authenticity. It just struck me that there was something strange going on here in the scholarship in leadership studies. I don't want to over-generalize, but what I was starting to see was that a lot of the material in leadership studies seemed to have adopted a term, "authenticity," — a term that has a very long treatment in the history of philosophy and political philosophy and that oftentimes has been used by thinkers as an indication of certain problems in the human world — and was taking it as a normative prescription or solution for certain problems in the human world and in the relations between leaders and followers. And I just found this peculiar. It struck me as something that needed to be researched, that needed to be examined. That, to me, is the real origin of the book.

Michael Harvey: In your introduction to the book, you talk about American society holding “authenticity as a dominant norm.” Is there something about American democracy generally or is there something about this moment in American history that makes authenticity so, as you call it, dominant?

Mark Menaldo: That's a great question. Probably one that's very difficult to untangle. There may be something to do with the fact that American culture and individualism are coeval with each other and that authenticity and individualism fit very well together. I think the difference between, say, democracy and individualism in the American experience, and authenticity is that authenticity accepts certain developments of continental philosophy without even being conscious of them. So, for example, “who am I?” which is a perennial question throughout time, becomes already answered by the fact that the answer is, “who I am is something contingent. I am a product of the matrix of social and cultural and historical influences.” I think that's very new in history. It's a very new way to think about the self or the individual. And it really pressures the individual, I think, to desire a self-expression and social expression that feels alive, that feels vivid. It also makes it easy to criticize or have contempt for more permanent things, more permanent institutions or traditions or ideas. It might be an outgrowth of democracy, but at the same time it has consequences for democracy that we can, perhaps, speak about later.

Brent Cusher: I agree with what Mark says here. Mark focuses on democracy and individualism, whereas I might focus for a moment on democracy and egalitarianism. It strikes me that authenticity as a human ideal goes quite closely, part and parcel, with this notion of egalitarianism. Instead of suggesting that there are certain human lives out there or certain ways of life that are, let's say, better than others and that perhaps some people are better equipped to live those lives due to whatever reasons, authenticity seems to go along with a more egalitarian view of human life by suggesting that we can all be equally authentic. We can all be who we are. We can all express ourselves in our individuality. We can live that way and, in that sense, we realize that ideal of equality that is so important for democracy. I think the other thing that I would simply like to hammer home, and this is picking up on something that Michael said a little earlier, is, if you consider the world of social media as it has developed over the last 10-15 years, if you consider the phenomenon of Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and the amount of time that people put into showing themselves through this media and crafting and creating who they are, I think it's very difficult to look at that and not refer to it as the dominant mechanism of self-conception in America and perhaps through the world as well.

Michael Harvey: The one term I'd love to throw into the mix in terms of thinking about why authenticity matters now is bureaucracy. I constantly go back to Max Weber. One of the things Weber noted is that modern mass democracy and bureaucracy really grow up together, and march together in the modern era. Modern democracy means something very different from the Athens of Socrates' time, which we're about to talk about. The modern democratic process throws out, essentially, master bureaucrats as its proposed leaders. At least that's what it has done for some time now. And, maybe it's the case that the people who are citizens in these modern democracies, essentially in the Western world, aren't that happy with bureaucrats as leaders. There's something there, perhaps — bureaucrats don’t make very compelling leaders.

Your book has this evocative title: Leadership and the Unmasking of Authenticity. “Unmasking authenticity” makes me think a bit of the current American president, Donald Trump, a leader who steps forth and violates every norm of civility, normal discourse, normal speech, and yet is elected president. I just wonder to what extent the craving for authenticity from leaders represents a sense of boredom or dissatisfaction with modern bureaucratic democracy, especially when it's starting to fail to provide widespread prosperity.

Brent Cusher: Yeah, absolutely. Michael, I largely agree with you that there does seem to be something about this trifecta of politics, bureaucracy, and authenticity within modern democracies. It's almost as if what Weber was doing was indicating that this was the solution to the political problem that politics had come to. To be an effective bureaucrat might require a certain level of skill or perhaps a kind of genius to accomplish the business of politics, but being a genius bureaucrat would be much more in reach than being a genius of political leadership such as you might find in, let's say, democratic Athens with Pericles for instance. Pericles seems to be quite different than the common run of people. So, it brings the egalitarian issue back into it again.

I guess what I find interesting about the question of politics in 2018 and the United States is that it really does seem to be authenticity that people are talking about and that people are driven by. Authenticity seems to be driving the way people make decisions politically. I think that there are likely a lot of people who take a look at President Trump, for instance, and say, "You know, we understand that there may be issues or questions or problems with this man's character and that perhaps he has done things that are less than savory and that more things may come out, but it's just how these things go. At least he's honest about it. At least he's up front about it. At least he's not trying to be somebody that he's not." Now, they may be wrong about his honesty, but I think that there is an appeal to the perception of that kind of leadership. At least a lot of people have certainly thought that in the United States over these last couple of years.

Michael Harvey: President Trump is an amalgam of what appears to be honesty, to use your word, but also a myriad of lies. Salena Zito — one of our modern political philosophers, a journalist — said it probably better than any other observer, right before the 2016 election, as you will probably recall: “the press takes him literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally.” Zito’s aphorism bears some pondering in terms of the implications for authenticity. Can someone speak carelessly, even tell lies, and yet reveal authenticity that others connect with? It would seem so.

But, let's turn to your book. It's a very, very rich book. I noticed that you do not organize the chapters chronologically. Now, you're two very clever fellows and I'm sure you have a reason for that.

Mark and Brent: [Chuckle]

Michael Harvey: I'd like for you to take our readers on a bit of a tour through the chapters. Can you give us an overview?

Brent Cusher: I’ll start in. The introduction to the book covers authenticity in the current moment and provides a synopsis of our views on what's going on in America nowadays and how that relates to how the term has been brought into leadership studies literature. We wanted to take a look back. By that, I mean we wanted to go back and look through the history of political thinking and political analysis and see how other thinkers had reflected on this idea. It struck us as being a very interesting thing that the origins of the contemporary concern for authenticity seem to lie in the philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the eighteenth-century philosopher from Geneva who lived in Paris much of his life. It seems to me, and I think Mark agrees, that with Jean-Jacques Rousseau you have a reorientation of modern political thinking in a way that ultimately leads us to the present moment of authenticity. So, what we wanted to do was to begin with Rousseau, cover some representative post-Rousseauian figures such as Nietzsche and Heidegger and try to establish the conversation that way before we went back chronologically to even earlier periods.

Mark Menaldo: The first three chapters trace that Rousseauian moment and culminate with the most extreme development of authenticity in Heidegger. Then chapters four through seven set up the alternative structure, the preconditions for Rousseau, by looking at Socrates and Machiavelli. Finally, there are the chapters on Bacon and Locke that provide an alternative to authenticity and, at the same time, the philosophical conditions that led to Rousseau moving past the traditional ontological concepts of self, knowledge, and truth.

Michael Harvey: So, you choose to begin with the Rousseauian moment, as it were: and it’s not just the 18th century, I take it your suggesting, but something we’re still in? I remember a teacher once talking about J. G. A. Pocock's The Machiavellian Moment and saying that the moment has lasted eight centuries!

Mark and Brent: [Laughter]

Michael Harvey: I think there's something similar about the Rousseauian moment. He sets in motion a way of making sense of authenticity that is followed by Nietzsche and Heidegger, and which we're still wrestling with today.

Brent Cusher: Yes, that's quite a long moment isn't it? [Chuckle] To refer to that as a moment! But I think it's true. And I think it's certainly indicative, or perhaps illustrative, of the power and the influence that leaders on the intellectual level can have. I look back to Machiavelli and see what he accomplished and back to Rousseau and what he accomplished, and I'm just in awe at how that influence can build over time.

Michael Harvey: Let's begin then with your starting point of Rousseau, and his way of exploring authenticity. John M. Warner, the author of your book’s chapter on Rousseau, notes that Rousseau attacks bourgeois hypocrisy, in a sense attacks modernity itself, for encouraging and freeing individuals to seek their heart's desire. What's in our hearts, Warner suggests for Rousseau, isn't very nice at all. There are various bundles of desire and manifestations of greed leading to what Warner calls the "false veil of civility and disingenuous professions of goodwill." This is a pretty bleak take on the world Rousseau was living in and, dare I say, a pretty bleak take on our modern bourgeois world.

Brent Cusher: I think that's absolutely right, Michael. I think that it's true that Rousseau had a fairly bleak take on the world that he saw — the eighteenth century in Europe. He was bitterly opposed to this human type he referred to as the bourgeois, this individual that seems to try to get ahead in a very cold self-interested manner, by doing everything he can to harm others to ensure his interests are satisfied. In many cases, the best route to do that was to ensure that the interests of other people are trampled on. He was a hardheaded thinker and his assessment of modernity, I think, set the stage for where we go after.

Mark Menaldo: Right. And, it wasn't just bourgeois culture and commercial transactions, it was everything. It was science. It was the arts. Nobody was free from criticism.

Brent Cusher: There's a very famous description of Rousseau's understanding of bourgeois humanity. I always go back to it. I’m paraphrasing here, but for Rousseau, the bourgeois is the one who, when thinking of himself, thinks only of others. And when thinking of others or his dealings with others, thinks only of himself. Meaning, bourgeois individuals are fundamentally split. The extent to which they understand themselves, is only the extent to which they see themselves through the eyes of others. Am I wearing the right clothes? Because those are the clothes that are going to make me popular. They are living through the eyes of society. Whereas in thinking of others and their relations with others, they are only interested in pursuing their self-regarding interests. So again, this fundamental psychological split is something that Rousseau believes can be addressed, to some extent, by promoting this notion of sincerity, as opposed to hypocrisy.

Michael Harvey: Warner points out that Rousseau is not particularly optimistic about the place of virtue in our lives. He's got a line that I love: “Rousseau said that in order to love virtue, we must create illusions for, that is, lie to ourselves." This brings up the whole issue, which is one of the biggest and most interesting themes winding through your book, of the degree to which questions of authenticity become questions of self-deception. Some of the things that you explore urge one to get past self-deception. But Rousseau is saying here that we need to lie to ourselves to be virtuous.

Mark Menaldo: The very interesting thing about Rousseau is that he looks back to classical assumptions of virtue as something to be admired, but not something necessarily to take seriously as truth. Rousseau is fundamentally a modern thinker and if we look inside ourselves, if we look inside our cells, we might find base and ugly instincts at the root of everything, but we also have this very complex longing and hope for beautiful things and eternal things and these get represented as virtues. And, they may be salutary and therefore it may be not only convenient, but good for us to lie to ourselves about the possibility of the attainment of these things.

Brent Cusher: One of the most significant contributions of the Rousseau chapter is to indicate that Rousseau was the originator of this notion of authenticity that has come through 300 odd years to the present day and we can identify him as such. But what is so subtle about the contribution from John Warner is that he also shows us that Rousseau wasn't a complete partisan of authenticity. That in fact, a proper human life, a life well-lived, might require deception, even self-deception, which is a very remarkable thing to note.

Michael Harvey: Let's move on to the next chapter on Nietzsche. Jeremy Fortier wrote this chapter, which focuses on Nietzsche’s comic philosophic novel Thus Spake Zarathustra. Could you give readers a sense of Fortier's arguments about authenticity and the motives of political leadership as Nietzsche saw them?

Mark Menaldo: Brent, you want to take this one?

Brent Cusher: Sure, I can start us off. Jeremy Fortier focuses on a great text in Thus Spake Zarathustra. It's a peculiar text. It's a very difficult and problematic text to penetrate and Fortier does a terrific job in exploring it. Fortier explores the character of Zarathustra's journey in this book. Zarathustra has spent a great deal of his life separated from humanity, living with himself, reflecting on things by himself, and has determined that it's his moment to descend and go back to humanity to bestow his teachings. He realizes that perhaps the will to do this, or the impulse to do this, doesn't quite sit right for him, that this will toward political leadership admits of serious problems. What Fortier does generally is to indicate that this is an expression of Nietzsche's thoughts on the problem of an authentic drive to political leadership.

Mark Menaldo: What I really love about Fortier's chapter is just how vexing the problem of leadership is for the character Zarathustra when he sees that he has to return, to descend the mountain and give his teaching on leadership. The problem is — and this is true of all teachings, not just the teachings on leadership — that your teaching may be corrupted and polluted and popularized in such a way that it's always misunderstood. And isn't that the problem for leadership in general? It's that leaders are misunderstood and the leader's position or articulation of his or her vision is colonized and appropriated in ways that were not the original intention. The beauty of the chapter is Zarathustra wrestling with the idea of does authenticity require him to stay at the top of the mountain in isolation or require him to come down to do good to humankind by professing his teachings.

Brent Cusher: One of the benefits of Fortier's chapter is that he provides a very close, sustained analysis of one of the important texts of Nietzsche on leadership. In other words, trying to understand what Zarathustra does is important from the point of view of political leadership. But there's a different dimension to Nietzsche's thinking that we try to take up in the Introduction and I think it dovetails with what Fortier does. There's something new going on with Nietzsche post-Rousseau. If Rousseau is interested in calling ourselves back to ourselves, back to our original sentiment of existence and the wholeness that we have as original beings, and in some complicated way using that as an ideal for us to look up to, Nietzsche puts us on a slightly different trajectory. It's almost as if, for Nietzsche, self-creation becomes more of a human ideal and becomes more consistent with what he takes authenticity to be — the ability to create ourselves, to not necessarily to go back to something original, but to put ourselves on this track that we ourselves have established.

Michael Harvey: Earlier in our interview Brent spoke about James MacGregor Burns’s 1978 book Leadership. It seems to me that this chapter of your book is the most direct stand against Burns's conception of the relationship between the leader and the follower. Burns ultimately sees that transforming relationship as one of stewardship and of kind of transformation and deep involvement in the lives of the people — a shepherd who is truly with his flock. That's not at all characteristic of Zarathustra's interaction with his people. It's not too much to say that he feels contempt for the masses. In Leadership, Burns himself talked about the single-minded power wielder whom he saw in thinkers like Nietzsche. I suspect that for a leadership studies field that is very used to the Burnsian image of a leader who is attuned to, aware of, tending to, and in a sense a steward of the people, that this Nietzschean view is going to be quite jarring.

Mark Menaldo: The leader in Thus Spake Zarathustra is philosophical and pushes a boundary that most of us never reach, which is the idea that what it is that I am discovering and revealing to myself is in fact nothing other than a-self-created code that, in its own way, will run its course. It will reach its heyday and then will perish, and then this will happen all over again. This is an over simplification of the eternal return of the same, and the will to power. But in that sense, yes, I think you're right, Michael. This is sort of a wake-up call to leadership studies for, I would say, not being reflective enough about what leadership actually is or what the leader is actually stewarding the people toward. What do you think Brent?

Brent Cusher: That makes a great deal of sense to me. I want to go off this point and maybe bring those two things together by suggesting that what Fortier shows in this chapter about Nietzsche could potentially be quite jarring for people who are used to the typical Burnsian interpretation of what leadership ought to be. I'm always struck by how much Burns refers to transforming leadership as a mutual process. Transforming leadership is something that is supposed to raise a group of followers to a higher level of morality and a higher level of motivation. But I believe what's explicitly stated there is that the leader himself or herself is also improved. There's this kind of mutual benefit going on. Fortier's analysis of the political leadership in Nietzsche and political leadership as fundamentally will to power is, like you say, Michael, bound to strike one as much more consistent with the notion of power wielding. It’s very interesting to note that it's this vision of political leadership that pushes ahead the understanding of authenticity and gets us closer to where we are with this notion of authenticity today.

Michael Harvey: It's important. One of the great values of this chapter on Nietzsche is that readers will realize that the will to power is not simply an individual phenomenon of the human being, but for Nietzsche it starts off as a collective property of the group or the community — the voice of the people's will to power. It becomes corrupted, in a sense, to an individual's will to power. I think that's an important step that we often miss when we think about Nietzsche, and Fortier does a great job making that clear. He also has a really wonderful line near the end of this chapter that brings him and Burns unexpectedly close. After talking about Zarathustra on the mountain, at the end Fortier writes, "Having set out to care for others, Zarathustra had learned to care for himself." I found this unexpectedly sweet; it made Zarathustra much more sympathetic to me.

I want to note, by the way, that this line by your contributor highlights the overall quality of the writing in these chapters. These are beautifully written essays. You've assembled a group of contributors who really know the thinkers that they're writing about, and are able to communicate complex ideas and arguments in very clear prose for non-specialists. That's part of what makes this book so promising for our field. It's a really thoughtful way of bringing in some pretty heavy political philosophy for folks who think about and study leadership.

I'd like to turn to Hans Pedersen's chapter on Heidegger. Mark, since you've thought long and hard about Heidegger, I'll give you first crack at helping readers of this interview discover what they might learn about Heidegger from this work and why it matters to people who think about and practice leadership today.

Mark Menaldo: First, I want to thank Hans Pedersen for writing this, because for a moment there I was thinking I might write the Heidegger chapter and I'm glad I didn't [laughter]. I picked up Being and Time and I said, "Wait a minute; I don't think so!" [Laughter]

I think leadership studies has to contend with Heidegger — not only because of authenticity. Again, everything seems to run through Burns and Burns picked up a lot of ideas about leadership from continental philosophy and those ideas have made their way, I think, into the theory of authentic leadership. But, for Pedersen and Heidegger, what we tried to do is just simply lay out what Heidegger means by authenticity. Because, what Heidegger means by authenticity can be misinterpreted. The usual way authenticity is misinterpreted is that people read Being and Time and they think authenticity is the good thing. It's what Heidegger valorizes. An inauthentic existence or inauthenticity, that's the bad stuff that you should stay away from.

Heidegger doesn't speak in such terms. In fact, he dispenses with the idea that the authentic existence is the good thing or the moral aught and the inauthentic is the bad thing that should be avoided. What Heidegger presents to us is a view that we as individuals are not subjects, nor is there an objective world that exists outside of us. In fact, we are a being that is just always already in a situation, so to speak, and that situation is one that is not of our own choosing. I'm me and you're Michael and there's Brent and we all got thrown into the world, and we just pick up and go. There's not a moment where we step outside of ourselves and say, "Hey, this is me and this is what I think, and this is what the world is like outside of myself." In fact, we're always doing something, we're always behaving in certain ways, and we're always moving in these relational possibilities. For Heidegger, everything is relational.

In that sense, authenticity comes to mean this moment where what Heidegger calls dasein, or what we'll call a human being, understands that it's thrown in this relational existence, what he calls das man or they self, and at the same time dasein can rupture or break out of it. Yet, never transcend it. Transcendence is not a term Heidegger would use. Verfallen or “falling” is the usual condition that what we're in. We're being pulled by a gravitational force, I'm already going somewhere in relation to something else. You're never free from that. But you can, to use Pedersen's language own up to the possibility of your existence. Again, that's very Heideggerian. But I think, to use normal English prose, it's to be in this vivid experience of the fact that you're stuck in these social relations and you just sort of have an understanding of these things.

It's not so much a choice or an action. One just grasps one's existence. This notion of authenticity is what Jean-Paul Sartre learned from Heidegger and he just runs with it. Jean-Paul Sartre takes this in a more normative bent than Heidegger. So, it's important for leadership scholars because, whether knowingly or unknowingly, they're heavily borrowing from Heidegger when they speak of authentic leadership and authenticity. In the way that Brent and I see it, Heidegger is the pinnacle of the individuating experience of authenticity. Becoming oneself or being true to oneself, this is the most radicalized version of it. And if you kind of just say, "Well, Heidegger had something to do with it, but I'm not sure what," you may miss out on the fact that Heidegger does not give you a moral standpoint from which to claim this sense of existence. For obvious reasons that should be kind of scary.

Michael Harvey: But he does suggest that one can push, one can fight against the force of falling. I think for the readers who are unfamiliar with Heidegger, it might be useful to note that this Heidegger’s falling is quite distinct from the traditional Christian concept of being fallen. We're constantly falling, as Heidegger put it in a line quoted by Pedersen: we “plunge out of ourselves into the groundlessness and nullity of inauthentic everydayness." And, while Heidegger doesn't provide a moral ground, I think implicit in Heidegger's project is this idea that if we learn to understand what falling is, we can do less of it. We can try to avoid it. We can educate ourselves. There's a bit of a moral project there, it seems.

Mark Menaldo: I think that's absolutely true. But, for Heidegger, the movement out of “falling” is something that is not reasonable.

Heidegger has these beautiful, very interesting, compelling explanations of how we can be overcome by moods and it's in these moods that we distance ourselves from inauthentic structures of experience and understand our authenticity.

Michael Harvey: After the Heidegger chapter by Pedersen, Brent, you take on the task of talking about Socrates and discussing the Apology of Socrates as told by Plato. You make a fascinating argument about the Apology: here is this iconic work of philosophical exploration, and of a man who was willing to die for the philosophic enterprise, and you accuse him of lying! I'm putting that far too baldly, of course. But really, it's a very provocative piece you've written. Why don't you tell our readers a little bit about your chapter on Plato's Apology of Socrates.

Brent Cusher: Sure. Thank you, Michael. First, I might say I'm not sure if I actually accuse him! It's more of a description of what he's doing in the moment and perhaps of the reasons why he might be doing these things.

Michael Harvey: The most insidious kind of accusation is the simple description.

Brent Cusher: Indeed. [Laughter] I find Socrates a very interesting character from the point of view of leadership generally, but also from the point of view of authentic leadership. It seems to me that quite a few scholars who talk about the ideal of authenticity as it relates to leadership actually go back to Socrates and refer to Socrates as the enduring inspiration for this notion. One of the classic examples would be a piece that in the late 1990s Bernard Bass and Paul Steidlmeier wrote about authentic transformational behavior. Their discussion of ethics as it relates to authentic transformational behavior shows the connective tissue between transforming and transformational leadership on the one hand and authentic leadership on the other hand. One of the primary texts that they cite to denote the Western experience is Plato's Apology of Socrates and the example of Socrates showing himself as an authentic leader.

Socrates is notoriously slippery, I think. That might be one way of characterizing him. Ironic might be another way of characterizing him. That's my explicit line in the chapter. Indeed, it's not just us referring to him in this way, you can go back to classic lines in the Platonic dialogues. I think of the most famous dialogue that Plato wrote, the Republic where the sophist Thrasymachus right away in Book One refers to the famous irony of Socrates as, “he says something, but he means something else.” In other words, Socrates is fundamentally inauthentic. So, it's something that people have noticed.

What I wanted to do with the chapter was to hone in on this particular text that oftentimes is used to support the notion of authenticity and bring it closer to leadership. There’s this peculiar thing that Socrates does in this text, he gives two versions of his life to the jury of Athenians. And, interestingly enough, these two versions of his life are fundamentally opposed to one another. It is very difficult to make an argument suggesting that they actually fit together in some neat, harmonious fashion. On the one hand, he shows himself to be a radical skeptic of all of the most important things — the good, justice, the nature of the gods, for instance. Whereas, in the second version of his life, he shows himself to be committed to these things in the sense that he's trying to teach people and make other people more just, for example. I find this an interesting fact of the Socratic experience, the Socratic life. What to make of it? This is not a check mark against Socrates. This is not something where you might read him and say, oh, inauthentic therefore bad. It's actually quite impressive that he's able to pull this off. He's able to deliver different messages to one audience and do so artfully and subtly. I view his public inauthenticity, as it were, as being part and parcel of his leadership. Those two things go together.

Michael Harvey: Mark, did you want to add anything or let Brent have the say on Socrates?

Mark Menaldo: I defer to Brent on all matters Socratic.

Brent Cusher: Very kind of you. Not necessary either. [Laughter]

Michael Harvey: Brent, none of the thinkers that you and Mark and your contributors write about seem to endorse or give value to simple authenticity. Instead, in their explorations, authenticity always seems complicated and shadowed. Perhaps the simplest is Locke, but even he has a distinction between public and private, which we'll talk about later. That's really another one of the themes that I've taken out of the book. That when thinking about it seriously, authenticity, by its nature, can never be simple. Even if rhetorically it is deployed as a cry for simplicity or a claim of simplicity, it's always complicated in shadows.

And speaking of shadows, Mark, I want to turn to your chapter now, “Leadership and the Virtue of Deception in Niccolò Machiavelli's The Prince.” I suppose that this is another figure who maybe doesn't see authenticity as troubling because he sees the inauthentic elements of leadership as being so embedded — why even worry about authenticity, he might say. Tell us, what can readers coming learn from Machiavelli about authenticity and leadership?

Mark Menaldo: Well, for the volume I decided to write about Machiavelli and I really hadn't done a sustained study of Machiavelli before. In grad school I just found him hard to pin down. Surprise, surprise, Machiavelli's hard to pin down! [Laughter] What I knew about Machiavelli was, I think, what everybody knows about Machiavelli. He's nasty. He says nasty things and he tells leaders to do nasty things. So, when approaching the chapter, I started with the question, “Well, what does leadership studies have to say about Machiavelli?” And, surprise, surprise, not much. We're not very much interested in Machiavelli, especially because of what he says.

Then, I decided to work backwards and make a case for why we, in leadership, should listen to a Machiavelli in the first place. In my chapter I argue that I have a sneaking suspicion that all this authenticity stuff is Machiavelli's fault. Not because of what he says about morality, but because of what he doesn't say about morality and what he doesn't say about the self and what he doesn't say about knowledge. It seems to me that this prince that he outlines in The Prince represents the apex of human knowledge and conduct and what the prince knows is that he understands the way the world really works. He understands what motivates people and what doesn't motivate people.

And, what the prince realizes about the world is that he or she is alone and from that place, the world is a really stark place. It's a very dour view of what the world looks like for us. But then there's this other alternative side of the world that is all colored by your imagination and the portal and access to that world is the perceptions people have about the world and that's colored by their hopes and longings and by what they think they deserve from this world. For the prince, there is no educating human beings beyond that. It's all just a matter of manipulating those longings and hopes and desires.

The prince, in some ways, is this master puppeteer of people's perceptions. So, Machiavelli makes this claim about human psychology and the reality of the world and then offers a tutorial to the prince — how to masterfully manipulate and maximize the perceptions of his followers. He does this by reversing what virtue and vice means. By doing this, the prince realizes that while most human beings want a merciful prince, they don't respond well to mercy. They respond well to cruelty, so the prince learns cruelty. Or, for example, everybody wants a prince to be generous, but if the prince is generous or liberal, then the people or followers deem that that generosity was coming to them anyway. So, an effectual prince learns to be generous by being cheap.

That doesn't sound like such a big deal, right? I'm kinda cheap with grades as a teacher, so am I a Machiavellian? My students are grateful to me at the end of the semester if they passed, but that’s not really what it means to be a prince. What I really learned in The Prince is the final part of the equation on the difference between law and force and the beast and the man. For the prince to really be successful in this world, he or she must sink to a sort of inhuman sense of morality, a subhuman morality. One finally discovers that the prince is a different type of human being that has what Machiavelli calls spirit or mind, which is a subhuman ability to go into and free oneself of conscience on the one hand and on the other hand to be something of a creator and styler of reality. The prince creates the form and world that is appropriate for a prince to succeed and that offers a sort of stability. In that sense, it's not so bad for followers because they get something out of the prince that they can't do for themselves. They survive in that nasty, cruel world and benefit from following the prince despite the fact that the last thing he or she is, is authentic with them.

Michael Harvey: It has often been pointed out that one of the ways that Machiavelli pushes for authenticity is not by helping leaders understand themselves, although that is certainly part of the advice of The Prince — avoiding flatterers, getting good counsel, the importance of getting actual, reality-based information — but by showing people what princes are really like. These are the authentic princes. I've always particularly liked his portrait of the Borgia Pope, Alexander the Sixth. I just love the way he introduces this Pope: "I do not want to be silent about one of the recent examples. Alexander the Sixth”— we're talking about a Pope here — "never did anything nor ever thought about anything but how to deceive men. He always found a subject to whom he could do it because he well knew this aspect of the world." There's so much cynicism there about how practiced some leaders are at lying and about how gullible people are at believing. It may not be a lesson in self-knowledge, but it certainly goes to the title of your book, Leadership and the Unmasking of Authenticity. Machiavelli ranks as one of the great unmaskers, if not of authenticity, then of the performance of authenticity. You know, that great American saying, “Sincerity is the most important thing. If you can fake that, then you've got it made.” That comes through very nicely in your chapter, Mark.

Mark Menaldo: Thank you.

Michael Harvey: Let's turn to Francis Bacon, our next thinker. Your contributor, E.A. Dolgoy, calls him, among other things, a perfectly content "teacher of lies." She says that Francis Bacon teaches us that authenticity is personal rather than public.

Mark Menaldo: Bacon's ideas, I think, get us closer to a more contemporary sense of normative prescription on the one hand and epistemological theory of knowledge on the other. Erin’s chapter is great because it lays out those two important aspects of Bacon's thought. What you find with Bacon is that he is a rationalist in a long line of rationalists, but he's a kind of realistic rationalist. He says the human mind can really attain a high level of understanding, but not all human minds can do this. Bacon sets apart the individual with penetrating judgment from other individuals. The individual with penetrating judgment knows something that other people don't, which is that the mind has, in some sense, what we today would call cognitive bias. Those with penetrating judgment have a better understanding of this and a better chance of escaping cognitive bias. But if you are one of these individuals of penetrating judgement, you have to also beware. Because the world is populated by people with varying levels of judgment, you have to be very careful about expressing what you know in civil matters and political matters and in one's public presentation of oneself. Bacon advises people to use simulation, dissimulation, and secrecy in their presentations of themselves with others. This is in keeping with Socrates' vision that knowledge is virtue and that a proper virtue is knowing when, how, and to what end, one should lie.

Michael Harvey: In her chapter, the problem of knowing when and how to dissemble is very Machiavellian.

Mark Menaldo: Yes, very much so. But the difference between Machiavelli and the way she presents Bacon is that Bacon seems to be an advocate of enlightenment in a way that Machiavelli might not seem to be. Erin brings up the point that in order to preserve oneself, one has to have the strength of heart and mind not always to tell the truth. Bacon instructs his reader by saying that in your desire to tell the truth, you must be careful, you might want to hold back. Whereas Machiavelli says, why would you ever tell the truth at any time? Bacon is more optimistic perhaps because of what he realized about the possibility of science and the possibility for increased enlightenment in the future. But in the times he lived, there was a civil and political need for dissembling and simulation.

Michael Harvey: Dolgoy's essay, like others in the book, is delightfully written. Readers, I'll give you a taste as to why you should rush to buy this book and rush to read this essay. This is the closing line of Dolgoy on Francis Bacon: "Authenticity, according to Bacon, requires dissimulation and is predicated on the art of lies."

Brent Cusher: One of the things that I gained out of the experience of editing this book is learning about these thinkers from our contributors in a way that I wouldn't have had in any other context. This is eminently true of Erin Dolgoy's presentation of Bacon. I learned quite a bit. I was very interested in her description of the reasons why people choose to dissimulate and why you might convey one message to one audience and a different message to a different audience. It just struck me as such a fascinating example to draw on because, as she discusses, Bacon had a very prominent role in public leadership. He was Lord Chancellor of England. So, here you have this man who was a scientist and a thinker and a philosopher, but also a political actor and also a leader in his own right. To learn more about how he was able to negotiate this within his own life was a real opportunity for me and I'm grateful for it.

Michael Harvey: Well said. Let's turn to the last of the thinkers that you bring together in this volume, John Locke, and Jack Byham's sharp piece with his question title, "Authenticity or Reasonableness?" Once again, authenticity is not simply held up as what this thinker is aiming at, but is instead seen as a choice that the philosopher in question may choose to turn away from.

Brent Cusher: I like what Jack does in this chapter, zeroing in on the thinker that I would argue is most often associated with the founding of the American political regime and therefore the American experience. You could point your attention, if you like, toward Thomas Hobbes, to Montesquieu, and to the founding generation of leaders who were writing. These authors are exceedingly important. But I think I'm on fairly solid ground in suggesting that John Locke is the one philosopher that people see as inspiring the American political experience, the American regime and who we are today. Jack outlines this pretty nicely with Locke’s emphasis on individual rights and especially on the right to property.

Considering where American society is today, it's fascinating to consider that Locke may not emphasize the importance of authenticity, especially with respect to political leaders. Byham starts the essay by looking directly at James MacGregor Burns and his theory of transforming leadership, with its need for leaders to improve the moral situation of their followers and do something to raise levels of motivation and morality. Byham essentially says that for John Locke, the intellectual inspiration for the American regime, this was not a possibility for public leaders. They had a much more circumscribed, much more specified job, that is to protect the fundamental rights of their citizens.

Michael Harvey: One thing one seems to see in your book, starting historically with Socrates, is that one goes from a teacher delivering a somewhat concealed message to his followers within earshot, so that they can go on teaching the things that they believe need to be taught, to Machiavelli's books that get published to a wider readership, to thinkers like Bacon suggesting that more people are capable of thinking for themselves, to a terminus with Locke who seems to imagine a great many people capable of the kind of understanding and education that help them be more sincere, be more authentic, have a better understanding of the world. We really seem to be moving into a more civic understanding of authenticity and indeed the everyday practice of self-inquiry and philosophy. I don't know if you would agree with that, but that's something I picked up while reading through these chapters.

Mark Menaldo: I think that's a great point. As we move towards a more democratic age, the idea that individuals would require at least a modicum of self-understanding is important so they can discover their own prejudices and biases in order to not offend others and violate other people's rights. The job of a Locke then, is to present this teaching to a reasonable public in the advent of liberal democracy.

Brent Cusher: To give a peek behind the curtain a little bit, one thing that we wrestled with regarding this chapter — and had very productive conversations with Jack about — is the extent to which reasonableness is a kind of authentic experience or stands in for a kind of authentic experience. Is that simply Locke's terminology for what is essentially the same thing? It does presuppose questions of the development of self, development of self-understanding, and development of one’s understanding of the world. That discussion added a rich dimension to this particular chapter.

Mark Menaldo: I would add that Locke's notion of authenticity is a corrective to our notion of authenticity today. Locke’s authenticity is a sober authenticity, a sturdy authenticity that cares not so much about this vivid expression of oneself as it does the notion of self-governance.

Michael Harvey: Byham, the author of this chapter, talks about Locke's cautious, hopeful, enlightenment optimism.

Mark Menaldo: Not as sexy as vivid authenticity, but definitely more politically stable.

Brent Cusher: And more useful.

Mark Menaldo: Yes.

Michael Harvey: I want to ask you a question about the seven thinkers that you present as a whole. These thinkers are very much the Canon of Western political philosophy. The Canon is the Canon, at least as it’s been traditionally understood, but I do wonder the degree to which it's problematic — and you might agree that it's problematic or you might disagree — that the seven individual thinkers featured in this book are all white European men? Does that mean that the Canon has traditionally looked at authenticity too narrowly?

Brent Cusher: That's an interesting question, Michael, and well worth pondering. In terms of our approach to determining what chapters we would solicit and what themes we would try to look at, part of our burden was to try to understand the origins of the particular concept of authenticity that governs our discussion of leadership in America. It did seem to us that we could trace it back through the Western Canon, which is why we took that route. Of course, it would be a worthwhile project to look at different perspectives as well.

Michael Harvey: No one book bears the burden of saying everything on a topic and your book, of course, is consciously situated within the Western Canon.

Mark Menaldo: You two know this, but our audience doesn't; I grew up in Mexico and Latin America doesn't look to philosophy as much as it looks to its novelists. Jorge Luis Borges, a great Argentine author, has a wonderful line which goes "Cada palabra es una mentira" which translates, "every word is a lie." Despite the fact that our book looks at thinkers in the Canon, I think it also has these tentacles that can go outward. One might read Locke and have that very American, Anglo sense of the idea or one might read Bacon and perhaps go straight to Latin American fiction or Latin American writers. Octavio Paz, the great Mexican novelist and writer, has a wonderful essay in the Labyrinth of Solitude called, “La Máscara Mexicana,” the Mexican Mask, which is about all the interesting ways that Mexican men — and it is explicitly about men, for the most part — lie. They lie about who they are and how they conceal themselves and can't open up themselves to authenticity. Authenticity is an alien subject to the persona that Latin American, Mexican men live by. One doesn't need to learn concealment, it's already woven into the fabric of one's social being. I think our book is open to a comparative context. Does authenticity make sense outside of the European American bottle? Do other cultures even conceive of this as some sort of truth or some moral aught? I think that would be an interesting exploration.

Michael Harvey: I don't want to leave without asking you about Nathan Harter's very provocative closing chapter to your volume, with a title that might alarm some parents who pick up this book to see what their students are learning at university [laughter], "Teaching Leadership Students to Lie." Can you please tell us what the distinguished Professor Harter has in mind?

Brent Cusher: Well, you refer to parents, Michael, but you might also refer to department chairs and administrators and so forth [laughter]. It’s a very provocative title! I think that one of the features of Nathan's chapter and one of the features of Nathan Harter as a thinker on leadership questions more generally is his willingness to ask very difficult, very deep, very penetrating questions about these subjects which, in many cases, are deeply relevant to the things that we as teachers do on a day-to-day basis such as, how are we actually going to stand at a podium in front of students and talk about these issues? I think his analysis of teaching leadership students to lie is a very questionable thing, meaning that there probably ought to be a question mark at the end of his title. How do we approach talking about these issues? His idea, to take different approaches and put them next to each other and try to tease out the best solution, is, frankly, a very Socratic way of proceeding because it proceeds only by asking the right questions. It's a way of proceeding that I think is consistent with a liberal education as well, which is a nice way to culminate the book.

Mark Menaldo: I’m thinking back to what you said at the beginning, Michael. Not only has bureaucracy colonized democracy, bureaucracy has colonized education, especially higher education. I work at a state school and it's very much part and parcel of everyday instruction today that you must pay heed to the state. I think what Nathan does in this chapter is very refreshing, which is the teacher has to ask himself or herself, what am I doing here? What do these kids want from me? Simultaneously, the students should ask themselves, what is this person in front of me doing here? What do they get out of this? Students and teachers, at first, might be skeptical of each other, but that's not a bad thing to start with. It might actually be a healthy, refreshing place to start because if you are first skeptical of your teachers, you might have the right attitude to learning.

Michael Harvey: This is echoing a theme that winds persistently through your book and all of its marvelous chapters. You and your contributors don't simply introduce us to what these thinkers have thought about authenticity and leadership. You've also actually delivered a fairly strong argument that we, as individuals, as men and women, as thinkers, as citizens, as leaders and followers, need to be on our guard about the uses and abuses of authenticity. It's not a simple thing. Your book does a marvelous job bringing this concept alive for people in a philosophically serious way.

That's my closing thought for readers of this interview. Your new book is a vivid philosophic engagement with problems that matter to everyday leadership. You and your fellow authors have done a marvelous job bringing that out across more than 24 centuries of people wrestling with these issues of citizenship and power and collective action, consent and honesty and deception. It's a splendid volume. You two are to be congratulated for bringing it off so elegantly.

Brent Cusher: Thank you, Michael.

Mark Menaldo: Thank you, Michael. We appreciate that.

Michael Harvey: Is there anything that either one of you wants to add?

Mark Menaldo: I just want to add that I'm looking forward to ILA's global conference this year on the topic of Authentic Leadership. I look forward attending and to contributing.

Brent Cusher: Yes. We proposed a panel, "The End of Authenticity?," for the 2018 ILA global conference in West Palm Beach, Florida which is essentially on the book. Mark and I will be there and we are really excited to hear what other attendees think about the book and to consider challenges, and see what we can learn from other members of the ILA about its argument and its approach.

Mark Menaldo: We don't have the answer to whether authenticity is good or bad or if it should be dispensed with. We are more at the level of the theoretical and philosophical idea that authenticity is worth discussing.

Michael Harvey: You may not have the answer, but you've put together a book of many wonderful questions.

Brent Cusher: Thank you.

Mark Menaldo: Thank you.

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