Personeity

Chapter 11 of my upcoming book is devoted to a discussion of servant leadership, a theory developed in the 1970s by Robert Greenleaf, based on his reading of a novel by Hermann Hesse called Journey to the East. One of the concepts introduced by Greenleaf is personeity, and here is a short excerpt from my discussion of that concept.

Greenleaf suggests that prophetic voices are calling us to “a personeity better able to live fully and serenely in these times” (p. 8). The term personeity was coined by the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834), not in one of his poems, but rather in an unpublished theological work in which he was developing an understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity (see Barth 1969). While our present concerns have little if anything to do with understanding the essence of the Christian God, the rarely used concept of personeity is extremely powerful in that it captures the ontological, epistemological and axiological aspects of the individual, in a single word. Greenleaf uses Coleridge’s term, positing it as a human rather than divine attribute, to express his conviction that the realization of self is best captured in the extent to which the individual is other-directed. In other words, not only is the personal intertwined with the social, but the social must also take primacy over the personal in order for either to be fulfilled. The notion of personeity captures the fact that not only do prophets serve, but also that those who respond to prophets do so by serving. Causality, in this case, is a reciprocal process carried out among ontologically equivalent beings.

Originally, it was hoped that Governance and Social Leadership (Cape Breton University Press) would be released this May. Currently, through no fault of the publisher, it looks like a late June release is more realistic.

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About Robert A. Campbell, PhD

Robert A. Campbell, PhD, teaches courses in change management, leadership, and organizational behavior, as part of the MBA program in community economic development, for the Shannon School of Business at Cape Breton University.
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