Saturday 16 July 2022

Harry Fricker MA


Modern theory of leadership can be traced back to Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit published in 1807, where he explores social organisation in what he terms Herrschaft und Knechtschaft, that translates as Lordship and Bondage, and is often referred to as master/slave relationship.

During the early nineteenth century European monarchies and the ruling aristocracy were in deep crisis, challenged by an emerging new social order arising from multiple factors, including; advances of the Industrial Revolution, the creation of wealth, the expansion of the urban environment, the factory system and the beginnings of Modernity, to name a few.

Hegel questions the nature of knowledge against a background of change, the zeitgeist of the early 1800’s. Remember that the Industrial Revolution introduced the factory system starting around 1760.  The French Revolution of 1789 deposed the monarchy, thus abolishing the Ancien Régime, with its roots in medieval feudalism, it stifled innovation, science and the arts.

The old regime represented an outdated social system, its methods and values inefficient, and is replaced by the Nation State, with it roots in the intellectual discoveries and technological advances of the Renaissance.

By the mid 1800’s Art, Science & Technology flourished, shaping society in new directions giving rise to ideas and practices we can still recognise in the 21st C, from Romanticism, to Darwin’s theory of evolution, to the invention of Photography.

Hegel “believed that only the most intelligent, the hoi aristoi*, those whose consciousness have awakened to the universal mind should assume roles of leadership. For the monarch, leadership is a right of birth, for others, it reflects a combination of natural ability and individual will.  As such, Hegel’s perspective concerning the dialectic of the universal mind throughout history supports the contentions of his early Greek predecessors that leaders are born, not made.  Only he takes their proposition a step further. Not only does he recognise the talent within individuals that give rise to their potential to lead, he also acknowledges the converging forces of history that provide them the opportunity to lead.”  Cawthon 2001 – Hegel on Leadership: The Unfolding of the Absolute by David L. Cawthon Professor of Management Oklahoma City University.

*Hoi aristoi in Greek translates as the best, in terms of birth, rank, and nobility, but also being the morally best. The term refers to the aristocracy, a minority group exerting influence and power over a larger social group.

Hegel departs from the established canon defining leadership, by highlighting the fact that it can be learnt through a process in which one can gain knowledge, leading to a perspective shift.  This is the precise space where we are at, in the Leadership Programme.

The notion of leadership is contested, through various interpretations. As with any theory it is a product of its time, and Hegel’s ideas are a starting point that is still relevant in some areas.

The Leadership Programme is focused within the context of transforming and raising the profile of the Arts & Culture Industries in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.  I will take a closer look at Culture Industries, its meaning and impact, in a future post.

The societal transformations of the early nineteenth in Europe are echoed in our time.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution, Web 3.0, the proliferation of AI, big data, biosciences, environment, sustainability, minority rights, the rise in the cost of living, the continued demise of the Nation State, increased authoritarianism and the role of the Corporations in later day Capitalism, bring forth a paradigm shift.

As a new era unfolds, innovative and sustainable models for business success require skilled navigation, agility, opportunity spotting and calculated risk taking for continued survival, this includes the Arts & Culture sectors.

Change is nothing new, a glance at history provides clues that adapting and thriving are an ongoing part of the equation.

The notion of perpetual Spring is not of ‘the real’ world, but the surface of illusion. A soothing theatrical construct, belonging to shopping centres and holiday resorts, with their artificial plants, piped music, climate control and the ubiquitous gift shop.

Arts & Culture in Cornwall and the IOS, could just find their Renaissance point, if we exert the right strength to tilt the balance.

– – –

As serendipity would have it, while walking home in the evening from my first day at the leadership programme, a slogan on the side of a white van caught my eye.


More than a leader, I’d rather become an agent of change, where collaboration, strategic partnerships, investing in communities of practice and mutual benefit are key at every level.

– – –

Thank you for taking time to read my blog, I hope you enjoyed it.

Please leave a comment, question or suggestion and I’ll follow up.

Have a great day!

For updates on new posts and developments;

Follow me on on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, or subscribe to my newsletter.

– – –

I am thrilled to be a part of the Creative and Cultural Leadership Development Programme – commissioned by Cultivator Cornwall and the University of Plymouth Knowledge Exchange.

You can read more about Creative and Cultural Leadership Programme – Announcing the third cohort

– – –

Bonus videos
Three short videos on leadership, covering different perspectives and styles.

  • The US Army General
  • The power of quiet leadership from the Open University
  • What is Leadership? An insightful overview


Arts & Culture in Cornwall and the IOS, could just find their Renaissance point, if we exert the right strength to tilt the balance


0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Call Now Button