submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree
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Supervisor: Prof. D.P.J. Smith
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First things first: my gratitude and appreciation to Professor Dawie Smith for the things
he has taught me, and for the things he has enabled me to learn on my own. When all is
said and done, PPL has initiated and sustained a fundamental and deep-rooted paradigm
shift in me: words cannot express my gratitude.
Second things first: to the woman behind Prof Dawie Smith. Elize, thank you for
making our lives so much easier in our studies. You are graceful and much appreciated.
Third things first: if dad were here to witness this graduation, he would have glowed
with pride. Now mom can do it for the both of them.
Fourth things first: to all my colleagues in the course with me. You have taught me
more than you could possibly imagine!
Fifth things first: To the Rand Afrikaans University for financial assistance in my
“You created my inmost self,
knit me together in my mother’s womb.
For so many marvels I thank You;
a wonder am I,
and all Your works are wonders.
You knew me through and through,
my being held no secrets from You,
when I was being formed in secret,
textured in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes could see my embryo.
In Your Book all my days were inscribed,
every one that was fixed is there”
was the manner
in which You created human nature
in all its dignity,
was the way
in which You renewed it”
(From the Holy Liturgy of Saint Gregory).
Man is a meaning-seeking being who continually asks questions about himself and his
place in this world, thus man engages in a very personal anthropological reflection.
However, Personal and Professional Leadership (PPL), as distinctive discipline, also
engages in a scientific anthropological reflection that aids man in his self-questioning.
As a result of large-scale societal changes, man, now more than ever, is concerned with
himself and the world in which he lives. There is an enormous variety of sources from
which anthropological observations can be made in general. However, PPL makes
eclectic use of these sources in order to interface with its already-existing
anthropological presuppositions. In this sense, there is need for a clarified, enriched and
characteristic anthropology in PPL, one that is relevant to PPL.
In order to report a summarised and PPL-relevant anthropology, the following research
questions are specified in Chapter 1:
• What are the characteristic and already-existing anthropological presuppositions
of Personal and Professional Leadership? (These are outlined in chapter 2.)
• How can the present study enrich the already-existing anthropological
presuppositions of Personal and Professional Leadership? (This is outlined in
chapters 3 and 4.)
Hand-in-hand with these research questions, the following research aims are specified in
• To identify, analyse and discuss the already-existing anthropological
presuppositions and perspective of Personal and Professional Leadership.
• To enrich the already-existing anthropological presuppositions of Personal and
In Chapter 2, a concept-clarification is done of “anthropology” and “Personal and
Professional Leadership” in order to present the already-existing anthropological
perspective of PPL. Seven anthropological themes are identified and summarised,
which form the point of departure of the anthropological perspective in PPL.
In Chapter 3, a literature study is undertaken from the perspective that is outlined in
Chapter 2, and that demonstrates clear interfaces between a PPL-anthropology and the
spiritual and religious (Judaeo-Christian, Islamic and Buddhist), traditional philosophical
(naturalist, idealist and pragmatist), and, 20th century (existentialist-phenomenological
and Marxist) perspectives of man. It is also demonstrated that a PPL-anthropology can
be enriched from these perspectives and that certain, pertinent anthropological
presuppositions can be formulated that assist man at both personal and scientific levels
to find an answer to the question: “Who am I?”
In Chapter 4, the research findings are reported. The characteristic anthropological
presuppositions of PPL are presented for each of the following life-dimensions: the
spiritual, physical, social, emotional, intellectual and finance-work. In this way, it is
demonstrated that PPL has an holistic anthropological perspective that views man as a
multi-dimensional being whose spiritual dimension is the “core dimension”.
This research adds value to the field of PPL as it organises its anthropological
presuppositions in terms of the six life-dimensions. The findings, therefore, are reported
in a characteristic PPL manner. Certain limitations of the present study are highlighted
and recommendations are made for future research.
Die mens is ‘n betekenis-soekende wese wat voortdurend vrae vra oor homself en sy
plek in hierdie wereld, en dus besig hy homself met ‘n baie persoonlike antropologiese
besinning. Maar, Persoonlike en Professionele Leierskap (PPL), as ‘n onderskeibare
dissipline, word ook gekenmerk aan ‘n wetenskaplike antropologiese besinning wat die
mens help in sy self-bevraging.
As gevolg van grootskaalse maatskaplike verandering is die mens, nou meer as ooit van
tevore, besorgd oor homself en die wereld waarin hy leef. Daar is ‘n groot
verskeidenheid van bronne waaruit antropologiese waarnemings gemaak kan word.
PPL maak eklekties van hierdie bronne gebruik om ‘n raakvlak te vind met alreeds-
bestaande antropologiese aannames. In hierdie sin is daar behoefte aan ‘n
uitgeklaarde, verrykte en kenmerkende antropologie, ‘n antropologie wat relevant is tot
Met die oog op die rapportering van ‘n samevattende en PPL-relevante antropologie,
word die volgende navorsingsvrae in Hoofstuk 1 gestel.
• Wat is die kenmerkende en bestaande antropologiese aannames van
Persoonlike en Professionele Leierskap? (Hierdie aannames word in Hoofstuk 2
• Hoe kan hierdie studie hierdie bestaande antropologiese aannames van
Persoonlike en Professionele Leierskap verryk? (Hierdie verryking word in
Hoofstukke 3 en 4 bespreek.)
Tesame met hierdie navorsingsvrae word die volgende navorsingsdoelwitte in hierdie
• Om die bestaande antropologiese aannames van Persoonlike en Professionele
Leierskap te identifiseer, te analiseer en te bespreek.
• Om die bestaande antropologiese aannames van Persoonlike en Professionele
Leierskap te verryk.
In Hoofstuk 2, word ‘n konsepanalise van “antropologie” en “Persoonlike en
Professionele Leierskap” onderneem om die bestaande antropologiese perspektief van
PPL aan te bied. Sewe antropologiese temas word geidentifiseer en opgesom, en vorm
die vertrekpunt van die antropologiese perspektief van PPL.
In Hoofstuk 3 word ‘n literatuurstudie onderneem vanuit die perspektief wat in Hoofstuk
2 gestel is, en wat ‘n duidelike raakvlak demonstreer tussen ‘n PPL-antropologie en die
geestelike en religieuse (Judaeo-Christelike, Islamitiese en Boeddistiese), tradisioneel-
filosofiese (naturalistiese, idealistiese en pragmatistiese), en, 20e-eeuse (Eksistensieel-
fenomenologiese en Marksistiese) perspektiewe op die mens. Daar word ook
gedemonstreer dat ‘n PPL-antropologie verryk kan word vanuit hierdie perspektiewe, en
dat sekere, pertinente antropologiese aannames geformuleer kan word om die mens by
te staan op beide persoonlike en wetenskaplike vlakke om ‘n antwoord te vind op die
vraag: “Wie is ek?”
In Hoofstuk 4 word die navorsingsbevindings gerapporteer. Die kenmerkende
antropologiese aannames van PPL word vir elk van die ses Lewensdimensies
aangebied: die geestelike, fisieke, sosiale, emosionele, intellektuele en finansies/werk.
Op hierdie manier word daar gedemonstreer dat PPL ‘n holistiese antropologiese
perspektief het wat die mens sien as ‘n multi-dimensionele wese wie se geestelike
dimensie die “kerndimensie” is.
Hierdie navorsing lewer ‘n bydrae tot die veld van PPL deur die ordening van die
antropologiese aannames in terme van die ses lewensdimensies. Die bevindings word
dus in ‘n kenmerkende PPL-styl gerapporteer. Sekere beperkings van die huidige studie
word uitgelig en aanbevelings vir verdere navorsing word gemaak.
Generic use is made of masculine pronouns, possessive adjectives and gender, in
general. This is simply to avoid gender-vague references and makes for easier
reading. In no sense is this intended to suggest gender stereotype or bias.
' CONTEXT ( ')*''
+ THE RESEARCH PROBLEM ( ''*',
- THE AIM OF THE RESEARCH ESSAY ( ',
. RESEARCH METHODOLOGY ( ',*'/
.(' Research strategy ( '0
.(+ Research methods ( '0*'/
, PARADIGM ( '/*'1
,(' Life and worldview perspectives ( '2
,(+ Scientific points of departure ( '2*'1
0 THE COURSE OF THE STUDY ( '1*+)
' ( +'*++
+ CONCEPT ANALYSIS ( ++*+.
+(' The concept “anthropology” ( ++*+-
+(+ The concept “Personal and Professional Leadership” ( +-*+.
- THE ANTHROPOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE OF PERSONAL ( +.*--
AND PROFESSIONAL LEADERSHIP
Theme 1 ( +.*+,
Man is needy, open and incomplete: dependence,
Theme 2 ( +,*+/
Man is openness and potential: receptive, active and proactive
Theme 3 ( +/*+2
The inherent drive to be “someone”
Theme 4 ( +2*-)
The search for meaning and purpose: the critical missing
link/the need for a Higher Being
Theme 5 ( -)*-+
Man is self-for-others
Theme 6 ( -+
Man is a value-being with the potential to choose
Theme 7 ( --
Man is a spiritual being in need of a Higher Being
' INTRODUCTION ( -,*-/
+ SPIRITUAL AND RELIGIOUS PERSPECTIVES OF MAN ( -/*,-
+(' Monotheistic religious perspectives of man ( -2*,-
+('(' The Judaeo-Christian perspective ( -2*.-
+('(+ The Islamic perspective ( ..*./
+('(- The Eastern spiritual perspective of man, Buddhism ( ./*,-
- THE PHILOSOPHICAL PERSPECTIVES OF MAN ( ,.*0'
-(' The naturalist perspective ( ,.*,0
-(+ The idealist perspective ( ,0*,2
-(- The pragmatist perspective ( ,1*0'
. 20th CENTURY PERSPECTIVES OF MAN ( 0+*02
.(' The existential-phenomenological perspective ( 0+*0.
.(+ The Marxist perspective ( 0.*01
, SUMMARY ( 01*/)
44 56 44
' FINDINGS ( /'*/0
+ LIMITATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF THIS ESSAY ( /0*//
NOTE: Sources that are indicated with an asterisk (*) are taken from the EbscoHost Research Database at
http://search.epnet.com. These sources have no page numbers since the information is given as continuous
Smith (2001:1) remarks that scientific presuppositions are those assumptions that are
fundamental to science and research, and to which recourse is had in the final analysis.
Among these presuppositions are fundamental anthropological considerations of the
source, meaning, goal and value of man and world, and his relationship to God or
spirituality. These presuppositions about human existence are characteristic of all that is
done and hence, specifically, also of science, and are of particular importance in times of
large-scale and rapid social changes (Noordam, 1978:22).
Since these presuppositions are fundamental and foundational to Personal and
Professional Leadership, it is crucial to examine, describe, enrich and understand them
in order to provide a foundation upon which a clearer picture of man-in-his-world
emerges. However, Stevenson and Haberman (1998:13-14) underline the danger of
allowing anthropological presuppositions to become a belief or dogmatically-held creed.
When anthropological theories “are embodied in ways of life, belief seems to go beyond
mere reasoning”, and thus an anthropological theory becomes a “closed system” that is
impervious to scientific processes of validation and falsification (13-14). Instead,
anthropological presuppositions need to become part of the scientific method and enter
the arena of self-examination and verification of assumptions. It is the aim of this essay
to identify, discuss and enrich the nature and importance of the characteristic
anthropological presuppositions of Personal and Professional Leadership, outlined by
Smith (2001:3-8), and hence to open this discipline and its anthropological
presuppositions to scientific self-examination, enrichment and verification of its
Smith (2001:1) points out that Personal and Professional Leadership, like philosophy,
theology, biology, sociology and psychology, has its own characteristic anthropological
perspective. In essence, Smith (2001:3) argues that the construct “anthropology” refers
to the science that studies the human being. This is, in itself, an anthropological
characteristic: “Man continuously reflects on being; he thinks about and asks about the
meaning of his existence and activities” (Smith, 2001:3, translation mine). In this sense,
then, this essay practices anthropology since it reflects on being. It is against this
backdrop and context that the anthropological presuppositions of Personal and
Professional Leadership are explored in this essay. Clarification is needed of the focus
of this essay. What is the research problem? What gives rise to this research?
Noordam (1978:22) points out that anthropological interest is particularly important
during times of rapid social and cultural change when things no longer appear to be
“obvious” (22). Zukav (1989:14), in fact, remarks that right now: “We are in a time of
deep change”. In other words, a renewed interest in anthropology needs to be firmly
rooted in the phenomenology of its times. This essay will highlight some of these
contemporary “change themes” and their relevance for Personal and Professional
Leadership. Some of the societal changes that are characteristic of our modern world,
and that lay the foundation for a renewed interest in the anthropological presuppositions
that are addressed in this essay include the following:
• Young people are rejecting the authority of the traditional Church and believe that
all authority must be earned (Englebretson, 1999:82). Also, young people
especially are engaged in the quest for meaning and purpose that is outside of
the social and cultural confines of late modernity (Webber, 2002:40).
• Alternative family structures (single-parent families, homosexual family units,
etc.), marital breakdown, changing sexual behaviour, delayed marriages, rises in
unemployment, loneliness (*Kaldor et al., 1992).
• Religion has changed: it has not died, but it is not what it used to be. Religion
and “spirituality” have escaped the confines of formal organisations (Bouma &
Mason, 1995:21). Replacing the traditional and dogmatic view of “spirituality”, in
contemporary society, the concept “spirituality” appears to be defined in terms of
an inner journey (being “in touch with one’s inner soul”), value-sensing (marking
sense of the external world and one’s place in it), and a reflection on beauty
(music, art, nature, the simple things in life). Traditional religions have become
irrelevant to most people since they fail to address this quest for a more inclusive
spiritual experience (Englebretson, 1999:86; *Hay & Nye, 1998). Atheism is not
the way of the secularised society that we are talking about. People are saying
that there is not only one God nor only one way to God, but that each person has
to find his/her own way (Webber, 2002:42). While adhering to formal religion,
people still engage in “other-spiritual” activities that hold contradictions and
inconsistencies such as consulting horoscopes, Tarot, crystals, voodoo, and
others (Webber, 2002:41).
• In an increasingly secularising and postmodern world, the spiritual quest is
seemingly not for a simple answer, but rather for a spiritual experience (Cohen,
Ben-Yehuda & Aviad, 1987:332).
• Ethics and principles often take the backseat to profit-motifs. A sense of
achievement and success is defined in terms of external accomplishments such
as possessions and status (Covey, 1992:15).
• The search for some meaning in existence is “constant and serious” (Webber,
2002:42), and part of the motivation of this search is the result of the loss of
community, and the development of a sense of isolation. “While there is a
philosophy of individualism, there is a desire for belonging and to find a purpose
in life” (ibid.).
It is not within the scope of this essay to explore all the dimensions of societal change
that augur a renewed interest in anthropological presuppositions, but to demonstrate the
relevance of a generic and scientifically grounded anthropology for a discipline such as
Personal and Professional Leadership that wishes to task itself with the upliftment and
improvement of the lives of people.
Jones (1998:1) highlights two practical benefits of assessing one’s anthropological
presuppositions: (1) to diagnose how people relate to friends, coworkers and to other
group members, and, (2) to plan more effectively the interventions that may be
undertaken in human systems, which implies “a set of assumptions about what people
are like”. It seems, therefore, that, in some way or other, the following questions need
to be asked: What is the meaning and purpose of my life? What ought I, as individual,
to do or strive for? What may I hope to achieve or become? What vision of human
community may we, collectively, hope to work toward? What sort of social changes
should be made? How can I contribute to these changes? What type of world is
unfolding? These fundamental questions, illustrated above, penetrate the core of what
is experienced as humans, both individually and collectively, and lead us from the
experience of man in a postmodern world, his phenomenology, to a scientific
examination of the “innate nature” of man, his anthropology. But, as Stevenson and
Haberman (1998:3) point out:
“Our answers to all these huge questions depend on whether we think there
is some ‘true’ or ‘innate’ nature of human beings. If so, what is it? Is it
different for men and women? Or is there no such ‘essential’ human nature,
only a capacity to be molded by the social environment – by economic,
political, and cultural forces?”.
In other words, there is need for an anthropology that describes the “essential human
nature” if any headway is going to be made in asking and answering fundamental
questions about the meaning and purpose of existence, both at individual and at
collective levels. It is because of this observation that this essay concerns itself with a
renewed interest in an anthropology for Personal and Professional Leadership that
assists in answering these fundamental and important questions.
Stevenson and Haberman (1998:4) illustrate the effect that conceptions of human nature
have on the anthropological perspective that is taken. If a theocentric anthropology is
held, “then it is His purpose that defines what we can be and what we ought to be, and
we must look to Him for help” (ibid.). If an anthropology that views people as the
products of society is held, and if people find that their day-to-day lives are
unsatisfactory, “then there can be no real solution until human society is transformed”
(ibid.). If an anthropology that views people as radically free without the possibility of
escaping individual choice is held, “then we have to accept this and make our choices
with full awareness of what we are doing” (ibid.). If an anthropology that views our
existence as deterministic in terms of what we think, feel and do is held, “then we must
take realistic account of that” (ibid.).
The question arises at this junction: What is the perspective that Personal and
Professional Leadership takes on anthropology? What is the point of view of Personal
and Professional Leadership? What are its understanding and presuppositions regarding
the “innate human nature”? (This will be more thoroughly outlined in chapter 2.) It has
often been said in popular media that, as a whole, the “first world” is geared toward a
massive and fundamental confrontation with the question: “Who am I?” A variety of
reasons for this is debated in colloquial gloss, and there are several variations of the
There is a slow but dawning awakening of the essential, the primary, the source, the
reason, the purposeful, the meaningful, the original, that which unites it all, the pivotal,
the integrated, the foundational, the indispensable, the core, the center, the heart, the
spiritual, the universal, the principal, the preferential. It is because of the return to a
basic preoccupation with questions such as “Who am I?” that people are confronting
individually and collectively, a new concern for the meaning and purpose of being-in-the-
world. This is anthropologically crucial! In fact, anthropology, of whatever persuasion, is
proof enough of humans’ concern about the essence of who they are! It is this kind of
experience that is the source of the anthropological reflections in this essay. However,
when man starts asking questions about himself, a dilemma emerges (Moltmann,
“He is himself the questioner and at the same time the one questioned; he
questions himself…As he tries to get behind things in order to understand
them and to make use of them, he finally wants to get behind himself too, in
order to understand himself. But because it is himself behind whom he wants
to get, he keeps on slipping out of his own grasp, and becomes more of a
puzzle to himself, the more possible solutions he has available in the form of
outlines of what man is. The more possible answers he has, the more he
feels he is in a hall of a thousand mirrors and masks, the more unintelligible
he is to himself”.
It is because of the subjectivity of scientific questioning by the researcher as both the
inquirer and the inquired that the often-bewildering number of anthropological
presuppositions and perspectives is witnessed. In the quest to understand the “essential
human nature”, the proverbial “hall of a thousand mirrors and masks” is entered, and, as
a result, subject and object have become indistinguishable. As Smith (2001:4,
translation mine) remarks: “Each attempt at unraveling has left the mystery of human
existence greater and more inexplicable”.
For the purpose of this research essay, then, the following specific research questions
will be asked:
• What are the characteristic and already-existing anthropological
presuppositions of Personal and Professional Leadership? (These are
outlined in chapter 2.)
• How can the present study enrich the already-existing anthropological
presuppositions of Personal and Professional Leadership? (This is outlined
in chapters 3 and 4.)
In summary, the research problem centers on a clarification and enrichment of the
anthropological perspective of Personal and Professional Leadership. In the midst of
this variety of perspectives, a clearly delineated aim is needed for this essay.
The specific aims of this research essay are two-fold:
• To identify, analyse and discuss the already-existing anthropological
presuppositions and perspective of Personal and Professional Leadership.
• To enrich the already-existing anthropological presuppositions of Personal
and Professional Leadership.
But, how will these aims be achieved? What methodology and strategy will be used in
this essay to provide answers to these research questions?
Kaplan (1964:18) defines research methodology as “the study – the description, the
explanation and the justification – of methods, and not the methods themselves”. In
other words, methodology is a meta-level investigation of the limitations, resources and
presuppositions of methods, aimed at understanding the process of inquiry rather than
the products themselves (ibid.).
4.1 Research strategy
The strategy that is followed in the research methodology refers to the broad
overall plan of action in terms of how research is to be conducted (Smith,
1993:34). A descriptive research strategy will be used in order to address the
research problem of this essay. This strategy will enable the essay to reflect a
qualitative understanding and insight regarding the characteristic
anthropological presuppositions of Personal and Professional Leadership. In
fact, studies that have a descriptive purpose are typically more accurate and
precise than studies that have a causal and predictive purpose (Guy, Edgeley,
Arafat & Allen, 1987:103). Descriptive studies are concerned with “delineating
the way things are” (102), and “concentrate on accuracy and completeness”
(103). How will this strategy be operationalised? In other words, what
methods will be used in order to implement a descriptive research strategy?
4.2 Research methods
Research methods refer to more specific means within the broader research
strategy by means of which the research problem is investigated (Smith,
1993:40-42). For the purpose of this essay, two research methods will be
used: word/concept analysis and literature study.
Concept analysis refers to the most basic linguistic constructions by means of
which reality is categorised and ordered. “Concept analysis” is also known as
“philosophical analysis” and “language analysis” (Smith, 1993:43). The
purpose of conceptual analysis is the precision of essential conceptual
characteristics, and it is used when the meaning of a concept needs
clarification or when diverging views of experts on the topic are considered
(Huysamen, 1993:159). And, as Huysamen (1993:159) points out, conceptual
clarity is a prerequisite for operational definitions and empirical testing of such
definitions. A concept analysis will be undertaken in chapter 2. In this essay,
the concepts “anthropology”, and “Personal and Professional Leadership” will
be analysed by means of this method in order to better understand what is
meant by the anthropological presuppositions in Personal and Professional
Literature study refers to the process of discovering previous work from a
range of sources such as theses, dissertations, textbooks, scientific journals,
newspapers and magazines (Merriam, 1998:49-55). In essence, this method is
used to read what appears to be relevant to the research topic and hence to
identify contradictions and gaps in order to conduct further research
(Huysamen, 1993:197). The aim of this method is to reflect existing ideas on
the research topic, to contribute to the knowledge base (Merriam, 1998:50), to
explore existing theories on the topic, to gain a deeper understanding of the
field of study in order to interpret the research data better, and to see how other
researchers dealt with similar research problems (Smith, 1993:47). In chapter
3, a literature study will be done of different anthropological perspectives by
means of this method and in order to better understand the anthropological
presuppositions of Personal and Professional Leadership.
What is the paradigmatic context within which this research will take place?
What are the worldview and scientific assumptions that are made?
It is essential for the researcher to clarify personal assumptions in terms of worldview
and science since these assumptions are fundamental and indispensable components of
the paradigmatic points of departure of research. Merriam (1998:205) likewise points
out that clarification of the researcher’s assumptions, worldview and theoretical
orientation enhances the internal validity of the research. Kuhn (1962:175) defines a
paradigm as: “…the entire constellation of beliefs, values, techniques, and theories
shared by the members of a scientific community”. Personal and Professional
Leadership differentiates itself from other scientific communities, amongst others, by
means of its particular anthropological perspective. This “fundamental image” and
“broadest unit of consensus” in the anthropology of Personal and Professional
Leadership, outlined by Smith (2001:3-8) is, in real terms, its characteristic
anthropological identity. This is discussed in more detail in chapter 2 of this essay.
5.1 Life and worldview perspectives
In essence, the ontological assumption in Personal and Professional Leadership is
that it is a discipline that is committed to a continuous guidance of the individual to
valid and functional self-awareness and self-knowledge, existential directedness,
personal purpose-awareness and professional success (Smith, 2001:2). The life
and worldview perspective in this essay, based on this assumption, accepts that
people are in need of guidance and support in the discovery and maintenance of a
personally fulfilling and meaningful life. It is, ultimately, the human quest to
understand “self” and to find meaning and purpose that provides the context within
which the anthropological presuppositions are considered in this essay.
In addition, the focus of study in Personal and Professional Leadership is the
human being as integrated organism, in relation to other human beings, as an
integrated and interdependent society. The life and worldview perspective in this
essay, based on this assumption, accepts the interpersonal dimension of human
existence as inextricably linked to the personal dimension, and as a core
anthropological presupposition. This essay aims at describing and enriching the
already-existing anthropological presuppositions of Personal and Professional
Leadership as these presuppositions form an integral part of the perspective that is
held in this essay. Since it is crucially important for the social scientist to have “a
pretty clear idea of the human image that he would like to see realised” (Kruger,
1979:112), this essay focuses on a description and enrichment of this universal
“human image”, seen from the perspective of Personal and Professional
5.2 Scientific points of departure
This essay has closest affinity with an existentialist and phenomenological point of
view. Kruger (1979:113) points out that “phenomenology is a method; more
properly it is an attitude…of wonder and respect as one attempts to dialogue with
the world”, and it is exactly this “attitude of wonder” that characterises the
perspective of this essay. The phenomenologist is, in Kruger’s (1979:113, italics
mine) words, identified,
“…not by the subject-matter with which he deals, but by the way in which he
attempts to understand and describe his environment. He is obsessed by the
concrete; his primary aim being to observe, to comprehend, then to render
explicit what was initially seen vaguely in the first comprehension”.
According to Van Manen (1990:5), a phenomenological approach also aims at gaining a
deeper understanding of the nature or meaning of everyday experiences and to
“question the way we experience the world, to want to know the world in which we live
as human beings”. This approach does not exclude the influence of presuppositions
about what the researcher sets out to understand. “Clearly, anyone setting out to
systematically and rigorously investigate any phenomenon is, from the beginning, guided
by what he already understands about the phenomenon” (Kruger, 1979:113). In this
essay, use will be made of the anthropological presuppositions, relevant to Personal and
Professional Leadership, as expounded by Smith (2001:3-8). This already-understood
knowledge will serve as platform for a further descriptive and enriched analysis.
An outline of the course of this essay now follows.
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Chapter 1 introduces the research orientation and design by discussing the research
context, the research problem, aim and methodology, and the paradigm within which the
research will be conducted.
Chapter 2 undertakes a concept analysis of “anthropology” and “Personal and
Professional Leadership”. This chapter also reports the already-existing anthropological
presuppositions of Personal and Professional Leadership.
Chapter 3 undertakes a literature study that enriches the anthropological
presuppositions of Personal and Professional Leadership. The following perspectives
are discussed: (1) spiritual and religious perspectives of man (the Judaeo-Christian
perspective, the Islamic perspective, and the Eastern spiritual perspective of man:
Buddhism), (2) traditional philosophical perspectives of man (the naturalist perspective,
the idealist perspective, the pragmatist perspective), (3) 20th century perspectives of man
(the existential-phenomenological perspective, the Marxist perspective).
Chapter 4 reports a summary of the research and makes recommendations for future
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This essay uses as its point of departure the anthropological presuppositions of Personal
and Professional Leadership that are outlined by Smith (2001:3-8). These
presuppositions form the basis for thinking about the “innate nature” of man in Personal
and Professional Leadership and will be used as the perspective from which other
anthropological perspectives will be examined in terms of their value and relevance to
Personal and Professional Leadership. Smith (2001:3-8) discusses eighteen
anthropological characteristics that underpin a Personal and Professional Leadership
perspective of the “innate nature” of man. These characteristics may be clustered in
certain meta-themes that are discussed in this chapter. A concept analysis of
“anthropology” and “Personal and Professional Leadership” is also undertaken in this
chapter. Chapter 2, therefore, focuses on the first of the research questions, and its
accompanying aim, that is addressed in this essay:
Research question 1
What are the characteristic and already-existing anthropological presuppositions
of Personal and Professional Leadership? These presuppositions will be outlined
and discussed in this chapter and will lay the foundation for a further enrichment that
follows in chapter 3. This question will be answered by means of the work of Smith
Research aim 1
To identify, analyse and discuss the already-existing anthropological
presuppositions and perspective of Personal and Professional Leadership. The
anthropological characteristics that are outlined by Smith (2001:3-8) are clustered
around meta-themes, and are augmented and enriched by sources that are relevant to,
and interface with, Personal and Professional Leadership.
First, a concept analysis is undertaken of the concepts “anthropology” and “Personal and
It is important to use precise essential conceptual characteristics of concepts that are
used in research (Huysamen, 1993:159). For this reason, a concept analysis is now
undertaken for the concepts “anthropology” (2.1) and “Personal and Professional
2.1 The concept “anthropology”
From an etymological point of view, the word “anthropology” is derived from the
Greek combination of “anthropos” and “logos” and refers to the scientific study of
man (Noordam, 1978:15; The Shorter English Dictionary, 1962:74; Smith 2001:3).
The combination of anthropos (human being) + logos (word, evaluation, thinking
about, distinguishing, discussion) forms the compound “anthropology” that is a
word that probably indicates “that the anthropos is a being with the appearance of
a man” (Van Rensburg & Landman, 1984:242). The word “anthropology” was first
used by Aristotle and then again emerged significantly in the Renaissance
(Noordam, 1978:15). Especially in the 20th century this word became common
parlance in a wide variety of sciences, each giving to it its own meaning (ibid.).
Van Rensburg and Landman (1984:242) remark that:
“Anthropology is therefore a scientific examination of the anthropos; in scientific
statement it consists of a total system pertaining to all revealed facts having a
clear bearing on man. As such, anthropology acts as a foundation for a total
and radical (deep-rooted) view of human involvement in a personal life-world”.
In this study, “anthropology” refers to what Stevenson and Haberman (1998:3)
refer to as the “innate nature” of human beings, and that centers on the question:
“Who am I?” (Moltman, 1974:1). Not only is this the formal scientific study
conducted by researchers and academics, but also the very personal an intimate
self-questioning of every person (ibid.). As Smith (2003:16) remarks:
“An anthropological inquiry seeks to understand the innate nature and hence to
provide answers to people’s questions about the identity of ‘self’. Knowledge
and understanding of the innate human nature will help you and me to
understand our thoughts and behaviour”.
2.2 The concept “Personal and Professional Leadership” (PPL)
The anthropological perspective of a specific discipline, Personal and Professional
Leadership, will be outlined in this chapter. In this essay, the definition of Personal
and Professional Leadership that will be used is that it can be defined as a study of
the continual and ongoing commitment of man to valid and functional: knowing of
who he is, finding his purpose, understanding of cooperation with and value-adding
to the lives of other people and professional competence and effectiveness,
especially in terms of aligning the organisation to the human factor of
organisational effectiveness (Smith, 2001, p. 2).
Characteristic of Personal and Professional Leadership, also, is that its perspective
distinguishes between the levels of Personal Leadership (acting consistently and
with integrity, responsibility and accountability, being honest and trusted),
Interpersonal Leadership (tolerance and flexibility, respect, listening to the needs of
those who are served), and Professional Leadership (skill and competence,
feedback and questioning, creating an atmosphere of growth, constructive
criticism) (Smith, 2003:11), as well as its emphasis on the multidimensionality of
man (spiritual, physical, social, emotional, intellectual, finance-work) (ibid.: 28-32).
In this sense, the concept “Personal Leadership” in PPL refers to the individual and
personal self-mastery dimension of leadership development. The concept
“Interpersonal Leadership” in PPL refers to the dimension of relationship-mastery
in leadership development. The concept “Professional Leadership” in PPL refers
to the expression and practise of both Personal Leadership and Interpersonal
Leadership, within the context of the professional mastery of a person. In this
essay, the concept “Personal and Professional Leadership”, therefore, refers
holistically to: self-mastery, relationship-mastery and professional/career-mastery.
To demonstrate the relevance to Personal and Professional Leadership of this essay,
the findings (that is, characteristic anthropological presuppositions of Personal and
Professional Leadership) will be summarised and presented in terms of the six life-
dimensions of man. In this way, the findings of this essay contribute to the enrichment of
the anthropological perspective of Personal and Professional Leadership.
Bearing in mind the meaning of the concepts “anthropology” and “Personal and
Professional Leadership” that was outlined above, a discussion of the characteristic
anthropological presuppositions of Personal and Professional Leadership now follows.
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The anthropological perspective that is discussed in this chapter is taken from a variety
of sources (philosophical, theological, psychological, educational) that form the
foundation for the work of Smith (1988; 2001:3-8) on the anthropological presuppositions
of Personal and Professional Leadership. It is further enriched by additional sources
that are relevant to Personal and Professional Leadership, as well as by additional works
of Smith (2002; 2003).
Man is needy, open and incomplete: dependence, independence,
Man is born helpless and needy, and he enters the world dependent on others for his
survival and well-being. It is in his complete helplessness that the necessity and
possibility of being educated and learning is found. Necessity, because man is born as
‘cannot-yet’, and possibility, because if man were born as ‘can-yet’, he would not easily
allow himself to be instructed and “told” by others (Smith, 2001:4). However, as Smith
(1988:34) points out, man’s helplessness and neediness is not only a physical
phenomenon, but it also entails and includes value-helplessness, linguistic helplessness,
moral helplessness, social helplessness, etc.
It is further argued that man enters the world as one of the most helpless creatures in
nature (Smith, 1988:2). In fact, one can consider the first year of post-natal life as a
period of extra-uterine premature birth, a phase in the gestation period that takes place
outside of the uterus (Portman, 1961, in Van der Molen, 1979:117; Smith, 1988:2).
Different from animals, humans do not possess in-born behaviour patterns, and hence
man has no way of living and knowing life other than by means of his environment.
Physically and spiritually, therefore, man is totally dependent on his milieu (Smith,
1988:34). Discussing the “maturity continuum”, Covey (1989:49) points out that man
ideally develops through the phases of dependence, independence and
interdependence. He emphasises that man is, in this sense, fundamentally in need of
others and given-to-others:
“We each begin life as an infant, totally dependent on others. We are directed,
nurtured, and sustained by others. Without this nurturing, we would live for a few
hours or a few days at the most. Then gradually, over the ensuing months and
years, we become more and more independent – physically, mentally, emotionally,
and financially – until eventually we can essentially take care of ourselves,
becoming inner-directed and self-reliant. As we continue to grow and mature, we
become increasingly aware that all of nature is interdependent, that there is an
ecological system that governs nature, including society. We further discover that
the higher reaches of our nature have to do with our relationships with others – that
human life is also interdependent”.
Man enters the world as inept, incompetent, ignorant, inexperienced, undisciplined,
irresponsible, and hence dependent (Smith, 2001:4), but he has the potential to become
what he wants to be, within the limitations of reason.
Man is openness and potential: receptive, active and proactive
The “openness” of man is probably best illustrated when he is compared to instinctual
animals. The world (‘Umwelt’) of the animal corresponds with its instincts, and hence it
is fixed. The animal’s knowledge of the environment is restricted to that segment with
which it interacts. “Its sense organs filter out what is not of vital importance to it. The
consciousness of the animal is therefore impermeable in comparison to man” (Kruger,
1984:99). As Scheffler (1985:17, italics mine) remarks:
“Human action in fact presupposes capacities that far outreach those of other
animals. Foremost among such capacities is that of symbolic representation, in
virtue of which intentions may be expressed, anticipations formulated, purposes
projected and past outcomes recalled. Human beings are, in consequence, not
constrained in their development as are their fellow creatures. Their lives are not
bounded by the reach of their instincts and drives, coupled with opportunities and
challenges of their physical environments; they do not live in the immediate present
alone, responding only to contemporary forces playing upon them. Human beings
are symbolic animals, hence both creators and creatures of culture, capable of
memory, imagination, fear and hope, interpreters of the world and of themselves,
choosers among options they themselves define, and vulnerable as well to the
choices of their fellows…What the biology of the infant leaves open at birth is, in
short, filled out by culture, history, education and decision”.
However, for man, the world is not fixed and has no fixed, universal meaning that is
common to all humans and for all time (Smith, 1988:34). Man gives meaning to his
world in a personal and unique way. In his being-in-the-world, man is resonant and
receptive “openness” due to his absorbing and imitating human spirit that absorbs
external influences “like a sponge” (Smith, 2001:4). Likewise, in the existential-analytic
thinking of Rollo May, for example, an ontological assumption is made that human
beings can participate in a level of self-consciousness that permits them to transcend the
immediate situation and to consider and actualise a wider range of possibilities (Engler,
1985:473). Similarly, from an existential-phenomenological perspective of man, there is
a characteristic emphasis in Personal and Professional Leadership that: “…human
beings are conscious entities with the freedom to make choices from the alternatives
available to them” (Jordaan & Jordaan, 1989:33).
In short, man’s range of knowledge is much broader than what is directly important to his
life (Kruger, 1984:99). However, man not only receives and imitates, he can also give
and model, and process and internalise his impressions (Smith, 2001:4). Contrary to
animals, therefore, man can: improvise, achieve, act “as if”, create, design and break
through situations in order to effect change (Smith, 1988:34). Man has, in this sense,
both active and proactive potential. Covey (1989:34) refers to “potential” in this sense
as: “…the idea that we are embryonic and can grow and develop and release more and
more potential, develop more and more talents” (italics mine). Commenting on potential,
Cashman (2000: 177) remarks:
“What is our potentiality for achievement…? Does life really have infinite
possibilities as the great sages and thinkers have said throughout history? Is our
world really a field of all possibilities, teaming with life, energy, and seemingly
endless options? Or, does our life have a more limited horizon of success and
possibility?…Is our field of possibilities vastly larger than we think? Definitely. Few
would question the far reaches of our potentiality. The real question is, ‘How well
are we using this potential?’”.
Man is not entirely governed by the prerequisites, necessities and structure of situations
since he is capable of achievement (that is, man is “openness”) and he can add new
meaning to that which he finds in a situation. In doing this, man demonstrates his
anthropological “openness” (Smith, 1988:34). This is most clearly seen when a
comparison is made between the decreasing “openness” to the world of the infant, the
young child, the adolescent and the adult. In conjunction with man’s openness is man’s
potential to make decisions and to choose, and as he matures, his openness becomes
confined and limited because of the choices he has made.
The inherent drive to be “someone”
Smith (2001:6) remarks that man’s inherent drive to be “someone” is probably the most
prominent anthropological characteristic. Smith (2002:107) remarks:
“We all have an innate will to develop and grow as part of our evolution as human
beings. We want to be true to who we really are and act from the essence of our
being. We want to actualise ourselves in the world we live in”.
Man is a unique being in his own right, and what eventually happens to him depends
largely on the decisions that he makes and how he experiences himself (Smith, 2001:6).
Thus, man is not merely in surrender to his development, as a unique person, but he
actively participates in it (Smith, 1988:37). The question may be asked: Why are some
people successful in everything that they do, whilst it appears that others are engaged in
constant struggle? Why are some people “winners” whilst others are “losers”?
According to Mol (1985:52-53) the explanation is to be found in each person’s opinion of
himself, in other words, the extent to which he has succeeded in being “someone” of
value. People who believe that they are capable and competent, address their personal
problems self-confidently, and when they succeed in these endeavours, they obtain the
“proof” that they are, indeed, what they believed themselves to be (Smith, 1988:38).
Self-opinion or self-image, being “someone”, is expressed in the following terrains:
physical appearance, intelligence, talent and status. But, this question could also be
asked in more concrete, real terms:
“Why does one child in the inner city transcend his or her circumstances and
create a productive, fulfilling life while another child gets caught up in a downward
spiral of drugs and crime…Why does one unemployed person view her situation as
an opportunity to connect with what she always wanted to do while another person
sees his situation as a hopeless disaster” (Cashman, 2000:67).
To Cashman (2000:67), the answer is also to be found in the personal search for
“purpose”. In his quest to be someone, man engages in the quest for meaning and
purpose. Smith (2001:6, translation mine) concurs:
“As seeker who wants-to-be-someone, man is a seeker of meaning, the meaning
of personal existence, the meaning of things and of people who come across his
path. In fact, his total exploration of the world is a search for meaning. The being
of man is found in fulfillment of meaning”.
The search for meaning and purpose: the critical missing element/the need for a
Smith (1988:44) remarks that the being of man is not seated in being sold out to this
existence, his appearance or his needs. Instead, it is seated in the way in which he
gives meaning to these aspects of existence. The being of man is seated in the
fulfillment of meaning and purpose. As Cashman (2000:67) points out:
“The lack of meaning and purpose could be the critical missing element in our
world today. When we look at all the external challenges we face – crime,
violence, drugs, unemployment, the breakdown of the family – they all are
symptomatic of one thing: disconnection from our inner meaning and purpose”.
To Cashman (2000), purpose is “spirit seeking expression” (68), and, “life flowing
through us” (72). If we lack purpose, our immediate circumstances dominate our
awareness and overshadow our reason for being. As a result, our life tends to loose
connection with its true nature (Smith, 2002:118):
“Purpose is not a goal to be set. It is not something you create. It is something
you discover when you are ready to do so. Purpose is there all the time, and it’s
calling you” (ibid.).
Man is fundamentally motivated by the need to make sense of his life and in order to do
so, he is willing and prepared to go through considerable tension and suffering (Kruger,
1984:86). According to Viktor Frankl, for example, the “existential neurosis” of our times
is that people see no purpose in life and therefore they tend to withdraw or refuse to
participate (ibid.). The failure to see purpose and meaning in life results in a feeling of
futility, inner despair and aimlessness (ibid.). Covey (1992:297) remarks:
“People also have a need for purpose and meaning – for making a contribution to
that which is meaningful. People can make good money and have all kinds of
growth experiences and good relationships, but if their work is not intrinsically
satisfying or if the outcome does not contribute constructively to society, they won’t
be motivated in the highest and deepest sense”.
In fact, Zohar and Marshall (2000:170-171) ask an extremely poignant question: As a
culture, we are going mad. Why? They then answer by stating that (italics mine):
“…the reasons are mainly spiritual, that our personal and collective mental
instability follows from the peculiar form of alienation associated with alienation
from the centre – alienation from meaning, value, purpose and vision, alienation
from the roots of and reasons for our humanity”.
In other words, according to Zohar and Marshall (2000:4), human beings are essentially
spiritual beings because they are driven by a need to ask fundamental and ultimate
questions, such as: “Why was I born? What is the meaning of my life? Why should I go
on when I am tired, or depressed, or feel beaten? What makes it all worthwhile?”
According to these authors, then, man is defined by a “specifically human” longing to find
meaning and value in what he does and experiences (ibid.). The highest possible form
of finding meaning and purpose in life, is man’s relatedness with a Higher Being (Smith,
2002:6). From the earliest times, man has revealed a need for security and safety, and
has found this, essentially, in religion. It is a fait a complit that man has need for a
Higher Being. (This anthropological presupposition will be expounded more thoroughly
in chapter 3.)
Man is self-for-others
Rollo May assumes about man that he is centered in himself and that he seeks to
preserve that centre, and, in addition, that man has the need and possibility of going out
from his centeredness to participate with other people (Engler, 1985:473). The paradox
of “self” and “others” is described by White et al (1987:81) as the striving for individuation
and for attachment. The former refers to the striving to become an autonomous and
separate human being with a clear concept of “self”, whereas the latter refers to the
striving by which people form close, caring bonds with others. Moore (1994:11, italics
mine) describes the striving for individuation as a pull “downward, into individual,
vernacular life”, whereas the striving for attachment is a pull “upward, towards
transcendence”. Commenting on the link between individuation and attachment, Smith
(2002:89) remarks that true self-fulfillment or meaning in life is experienced, therefore,
through self-transcendence, that is, through a vertical connection with God and/or a
horisontal association with someone else, a close relative or friend. Similarly, Covey
(1989:51) points out that life is, by nature, highly interdependent. His model for effective
living (53) illustrates that it is only by connecting with others (attachment) from “self”
(individuation) that effective, interdependent relationships are born. Lerner (1989:9)
likewise points out that it is only through connectedness with others that people can
really know and enhance their sense of self, and, in addition, it is only through working
on the self that individuals can enhance their connectedness to others. This connection
between “self” and “others” is well described by Covey (1989:51):
“If I am physically interdependent, I am self-reliant and capable, but I also realise
that you and I working together can accomplish far more than, even at my best, I
could accomplish alone. If I am emotionally interdependent, I derive a great sense
of worth within myself, but I also recognise the need for love, for giving, and for
receiving love from others”.
Smith (2002:86) remarks that relationships are as vital to us as the air that we breathe.
We all need friendship, companionship, people with whom we can share our joys,
sorrows, fears, successes, and a feeling of belonging and that these interactions touch
and nourish us at our deepest levels. Johnson (1990:2) points out that initiating,
developing and maintaining caring and committed relationships is the most important
aspect of human life.
It is because many people are experiencing unsatisfying interpersonal relationships that
they are searching and reaching out for a better quality of life, and realising that
interpersonal relationships are an essential and indispensable ingredient in the living of a
meaningful and purposeful life (Munroe, 1996:ii; Vinassa, 1999:17). Buscaglia (1984:24)
remarks that: “there is no being or becoming without relationships”. In fact, living a
meaningful and purposeful life is in direct proportion to engagement in meaningful and
satisfying interpersonal relationships (Corey, 1986:79; Covey, 1989:57). Staples
(1991:67) and Nelson-Jones (1986:2) concur. Smith (2002:86-87) remarks in this
“Relationships are at the core of being human. Even as a foetus, the unborn baby
bonds with its mother for what it needs to grow. This relationship continues after
birth with a dependence on others…for food, shelter, clothes, warmth, education,
love and affection. This social dependency stresses our dependence on other
people. Another deep-rooted characteristic of human beings is their need for
acceptance and love. All people want to be appreciated for what they are rather
than for what they do or have…Relationships are as vital to us as the air that we
In addition, Covey (1994:29) illustrates the importance of interpersonal relationships:
“We are born into families; we grow up in societies; we become students of schools
and members of other organisations. Once into our professions, we find that our
jobs require us to interact frequently and effectively with others. If we fail to learn
and apply the principles of interpersonal effectiveness, we can expect our progress
to slow or stop”.
Man is a value-being with the potential to choose
Man’s freedom to choose his response in any situation in life is a fundamental
anthropological presupposition in Personal and Professional Leadership. Man has the
ability and potential to choose among options in life, and hence to choose among
differing and different values (Smith, 2001:6). But, man only has the potential for
morality, that is, the ability to choose between “good” and “bad”. “Morality, that is, the
ability to distinguish between good and bad is not given with being human, but only the
possibility thereto. This ability is grounded in the certainty that man possesses the
possibility for morality” (Smith, 1988:41, translation mine).
Commenting on Viktor Frankl’s suggestion that there are three central values in life (viz:
experiential values: that which happens to us; creative values: that which we bring into
existence, and, attitudinal values: our personal response in difficult circumstances),
Covey (1989:74-75) remarks:
“My own experience with people confirms the point Frankl makes – that the highest
of the three values is attitudinal, in the paradigm or reframing sense. In other
words, what matters most is how we respond to what we experience in life”.
Man is a spiritual being in need of a Higher Being
It is an anthropological presupposition in Personal and Professional Leadership that man
is a religious being (Smith, 2001:6), and that he has need for a “Higher Hand, a Creator
to worship” (ibid, translation mine). Similarly, both Zohar and Marshall (2000:4), and
Covey (1989:292) remark that man is, essentially, a spiritual being, and, as Smith
(2002:61) remarks: “The real ‘you’ finds expression, first of all, in your spiritual
dimension”. It is in being connected with the spiritual dimension that man finds his
highest possible fulfilment and meaning in being rooted in God or in the transcendental
(ibid.). This aspect of the anthropological presuppositions of Personal and Professional
Leadership will be expounded more thoroughly in chapter 3 when the spiritual and
religious perspective of man is discussed. Smith (2003:16-17) summarises the core
anthropological characteristics that are relevant to Personal and Professional
' 6 People define themselves by the choices they make in
4 ; 5 4 < life.
+ ; 5 Humans have the capacity for self-awareness and as
such they have the capacity to understand and solve
- 3 People can reframe and recreate their world and their
4 3 ; options in life.
. ; People have the need to succeed in life, to express
4 ; themselves in their personal and unique way and to
< = find fulfilment in life.
, ; People need to belong and to be accepted in
meaningful interpersonal relationships.
0 This is the experience of connectedness to self, to
4 others, and to God. Man is essentially a spiritual being
and is in need of relatedness with God, the highest
possible experience of meaning and purpose.
/ 3 ; People are not determined by circumstances and need
= not be victims of the vicissitudes of life. People can
choose how they respond in situations.
2 * There are certain social practices and norms that act
; as criteria for acceptable behaviour.
1 > 3 ;5 Values refer to “what matters most”.
This chapter analyses the concepts “anthropology” and “Personal and Professional
Leadership” and also highlights the core anthropological presuppositions of Personal
and Professional Leadership. It clusters the presuppositions around seven predominant
themes and substantiates them by means of reference to sources that are relevant to
Personal and Professional Leadership. In this sense, this chapter creates the
perspective’s “spectacles” through which eclectic use is made of other anthropological
perspectives that are relevant to Personal and Professional Leadership. In chapter 3,
certain interfaces with the anthropological presuppositions of Personal and Professional
Leadership are explored by means of an examination of other anthropological
This chapter addresses the second research question and aim and reports on a
literature study that suggests a possible structure for discussing and enriching the
anthropological presuppositions of Personal and Professional Leadership. Firstly, the
research question and aim are stated and then a rationale is given for the structure that
is used in this essay. In order, the following perspectives that interface with a Personal
and Professional Leadership anthropological perspective are discussed: (1) spiritual
and religious perspectives of man, (2) traditional philosophical perspectives of man, (3)
20th century perspectives of man. After discussing each of these perspectives, a
summative discussion is given in tabular form in order to extract the key anthropological
presuppositions. These perspectives are viewed from the already-existing
anthropological perspective of Personal and Professional Leadership as outlined in the
Research question 2
How can the present study enrich the already-existing anthropological
presuppositions of Personal and Professional Leadership? It is the specific aim of
the following chapter, then, to enrich the already-existing anthropological
presuppositions that were outlined in the previous chapter, by either finding specific
commonalities or fresh perspectives in these presuppositions. Three primary
perspectives will be used (the rationale for which will be outlined below) to answer this
question: (1) the spiritual and religious perspective; (2) the traditional philosophical
perspective, and; (3) 20th century perspectives of man.
Research aim 2
To enrich the already-existing anthropological presuppositions of Personal and
Because of the proliferation and variety of perspectives, choosing a framework of
anthropological perspectives within which to work in this essay proved to be a daunting
task. Also, the limited scope and task of this essay, as reflected in the structure that is
used, should not create the impression that it is comprehensive and complete. Certain
valuable perspectives are not discussed in this essay, but may be explored more
thoroughly in research with a much larger and inclusive scope and task. Noordam
(1978:22), for example, uses three categories in a discussion of anthropological
presuppositions: a religious perspective, a biological perspective, and a cultural
perspective. He remarks that in all categories there are certain philosophical views, and
that this makes a separate “philosophical anthropology” unnecessary. On the other
hand, according to Noordam (1978:22), a “humanistic anthropology” is unnecessary
since humanists will feel at home especially in the different streams of thought in cultural
Stevenson and Haberman (1998:index) divide their discussion of anthropological
perspectives into the following three categories: a religious perspective, a philosophical
perspective (Plato, Kant, Marx, Freud, Sartre) and a scientific perspective (behavioural
psychology, evolutionary psychology).
Van Wyk (1979, index), discussing the anthropological implications of certain
educational perspectives, uses a more traditional approach that is very similar to that of
Gunter (1961, index), and uses the following perspectives: idealism, naturalism,
pragmatism, socialism, communism, existentialism, phenomenology and the “new left”,
to which Gunter (1961, index) adds the Christian perspective.
Smith (1988, index) concurs but adds the Neo-Marxist perspective in his framework.
Jones (1998:1-2) discusses Gordon Alport’s three models of the nature of humanity.
The first model views people as reactive beings (e.g.: naturalism, positivism,
behaviourism, operationism and physicalism) and implies that people will relate to other
people in terms of influence, power, rewards, reinforcement, manipulation and
conditioning. Thus, people are essentially reactive to stimuli in the physical
environments: they are not proactive in the sense that they will things to happen. The
second model views people as reactive beings in depth (e.g.: psychoanalysis,
psychodynamics and depth psychology) and implies that people relate to other people in
terms of “why?”. People try to discover motives and develop insight. Thus people have
unconscious lives and their behaviour is a function of things of which they are not aware.
People are reactive to the environment and also to drives, instincts, will and other
aspects of personality which remain largely submerged in the unconscious. The third
model views people as beings-in-the-process-of-becoming (e.g.: holism,
orthopsychology, personalistics and existential psychology). People would relate to
other people in terms of nurturance and development and would try to foster climates
that would produce growth in one another. Thus, people essentially have within
themselves the capability of becoming good and sufficient, given an environment that
nurtures their growth. It seems impossible from the richness and diversity of the above-
mentioned perspectives, and taking into consideration the limited scope of this essay, to
do justice to all these perspectives. But, a structure is suggested and used in this essay
that interfaces in many ways with the above-mentioned models and structures. The
structure for and examples of the perspectives that are discussed in this essay are
outlined as follows:
' Spiritual and religious perspectives of • The Judaeo-Christian perspective
• The Islamic perspective
• The Eastern spiritual perspective of
+ Traditional philosophical perspectives of • The naturalist perspective
• The idealist perspective
• The pragmatist perspective
- 20 century perspectives of man • The existential-phenomenological
• The Marxist perspective
+( # ! # % "
A discussion now follows of certain selected monotheistic religious anthropological
perspectives, namely: the Judaeo-Christian perspective, the Islamic perspective, as well
as the Eastern spiritual (Buddhist) perspective. Together, these three major world
religions and philosophies comprise roughly half of the world’s population and hence the
value of these perspectives is self-evident. Other perspectives were also studied, but
are not reported in this essay. These are: the Hindu and the Baha’i perspectives.
Fruitful use could also be made of traditional African religions and philosophies, whether
animistic or theistic, as well as the ever-expanding spiritual perspectives that may,
loosely, be termed “New Age”. The aim of this perspective is to study man essentially in
terms of his relatedness to God or spirituality.
2.1 Monotheistic religious perspectives of man
This section of the essay reports on the Judaeo-Christian, Islamic and Buddhist
2.1.1 The Judaeo-Christian perspective
It would be wise to take the words of Van der Walt (1995:20) to heart when
discussing a Judaeo-Christian anthropological perspective: “The Bible is not a
textbook for anthropology. It is not a scientific guide, but a book of faith”
(translation mine). However, the essential feature of the Judaeo-Christian
anthropology is that man can only be understood in terms of his relationship
with God (Henry, 1972:338-342; Van der Walt, 1995:14).
• The Old Testament view of man: man is a spiritual being
Stevenson and Haberman (1998:74) remark that the Hebrew conception of man
sees man as existing primarily in relation to God. Man is a rational being who
has self-consciousness, freedom of choice and the capacity for personal
relationships of love, the most important relationship of which is the
relationship with God (74-75). “God created us for fellowship with Himself, so we
fulfill the purpose of our life only when we love and serve our Creator” (75). In
addition to the God-man relationship, probably the most crucial point in the
biblical, Old Testament, understanding of human nature is the notion of
freedom, “conceived of as the choice between obedience to God’s will, faith in
Him, and love for Him – or disobedience, faithlessness and pride” (Stevenson and
Haberman, 1998:75). This sentiment is reiterated in the Islamic anthropological
perspective that follows.
Although Personal and Professional Leadership is grounded in the Judaeo-
Christian anthropological perspective, it suggests, in addition, that it is the spiritual
dimension (inclusive of the religious dimension) that is the core human dimension,
and that its practitioners are free to choose their own specific religious perspective
as an expression of the spiritual dimension. Whereas Aristotle and Plato
emphasise the attainment of rational knowledge as the highest fulfillment of human
life, the Judaeo-Christian perspective emphasises human goodness that is
independent of intellectual power. Man is “good” in this sense, because he is
created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26), and because “God saw
everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good – suitable, pleasant,
and He approved of it completely” (Genesis 1:31, Amplified Bible). As Stevenson
and Haberman (1998:76) remark:
“The concern with human goodness is not just with right action: it is at least as
much with the foundation in human character and personality from which such
life will flow. And in a crucial way, it goes beyond the sophisticated
conceptions of human virtue offered by Plato and Aristotle, for the biblical
writers see the only firm foundation for human goodness as faith in the
transcendent yet personal God” (emphasis mine).
It is, therefore, imperative in this perspective to prioritise being over doing.
Personal and Professional Leadership, likewise, shifts the focus to the “inner
person”, to “being” as prerequisite to feeling, thinking and acting (Cashman,
2001:138). But, as Cashman (2001:136) points out:
“We become ‘junkies’ to external stimulation – always seeking our next ‘fix’ to
make us feel good. This type of ‘I’m stimulated; therefore I am’ mentality often
lacks the true joy of living. We have become a world of human doers having
lost connection to our heritage as human beings”.
As a creature made in the image and likeness of God, it is a Judaeo-Christian
emphasis that man, choosing to love and worship God, also chooses, with the help
of God, to undertake the journey of self-transformation, from within, from “spirit”
(Matt. 15;18-19; Eph. 3:16; 2 Cor. 4:16). Zohar and Marshall (2000:4) remark in
this regard, that: “Human beings are essentially spiritual creatures”. Covey
(1989:292) concurs: “The spiritual dimension is your core, your center”. It is
exactly this dimension that is the foundation of man’s relationship with God in both
the Old and New Testaments: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your
heart, and with all your soul, and with all your intellect” (Deuteronomy 6:5; Matthew
22:37, Amplified Bible).
It is a characteristic emphasis of Personal and Professional Leadership to view
man as multi-dimensional and as a unity, similar to an existentialist anthropological
perspective (Smith,1988:27), but with the insistence that the spiritual dimension is
the core, foundational, and fundamental human dimension, man’s “true nature” and
identity. As Smith (2002:61) remarks: “The real ‘you’ finds expression, first of all,
in your spiritual dimension”.
The New Testament perspective that follows, elaborates on the relationship
between God and man, and specifically addresses the ramifications of this primary
• The New Testament view of man: man is a relational being
From a Christian perspective, account must be taken of the particular and differing
emphases in the Catholic/Orthodox and Protestant views, and, in the latter, a
distinction is to be made among the Lutheran, Anglican and Calvinist perspectives
(Gunter, 1961:305). It is not within the scope of this essay to make a thorough
distinction between differing Christian perspectives, but rather to extract the
essential features common to these perspectives. Whatever the particular
perspective, Gunter (1961:307) points out that if it were assumed that the God of
revelation exists in Christ Jesus, then He is, indeed, the ground of human
existence, thinking and being. Although a Personal and Professional Leadership
anthropology accepts that man is a spiritual being in need of God, it is not its task
to be definitive and imperative with regard to the choices that people make to give
expression to this anthropological characteristic. Instead, Personal and
Professional Leadership emphasises that man needs to reconnect (religion: re +
ligare, that is: “reconnect”) with the spiritual dimension in a uniquely personal way,
but for Christian practitioners, this connection would mean a definitive and
imperative relationship with Jesus Christ. Gunter (1961:308) extracts a
fundamental dimension of the Christian anthropological perspective when he points
out that man has three fundamental relationships: the I-you relationship, the I-it
relationship, and the I-God relationship. Man gains knowledge of his
interconnectedness with other human beings via his I-you relation, in which
fellow-man is fellow-subject. This relation implies a relationship with others that is
characterised by “true affection” and “comradeship” (Mackay, 1943:37-38). Thus,
man cannot come to self-knowledge by objectifying fellow-man, but only by relating
to him as a person, in a personal and intimate manner. This relationship
constitutes the subjective-social dimension. In the I-it relation, man relates to an
objective world by means of objective observation. Thus man is capable, through
objective research, of scientific knowledge of the world of objects, things and
events. This relationship constitutes the objective-material dimension. In the I-
God relation, man believes and listens, surrenders and meets God in Christ
Jesus. Thus, man is capable of objective, subjective and spiritual knowledge of
himself and his world, but always in terms of the priority of spiritual knowledge.
Man is capable of knowing and loving God, self and others, because he is made in
God’s image and likeness (Genesis 1:26). “Human beings are unique in that we
have something of the rationality and personhood of God” (Stevenson &
These three relational dimensions of man are echoed in the “Great
Commandment” to love God, self and others (Matthew. 22:37-40). In addition to
the Personal and Professional Leadership anthropological presupposition that man
is in need of relatedness with God or a Higher Power (Smith, 2001: 6), and in need
of meaningful and fulfilling relationships with others (5), the New Testament
perspective orders this relational nature of man, and points out that its source is
found in the spiritual dimension (God), which enables connectedness to self, and,
ultimately, connectedness to others and to nature. Thus: man is firstly in need of
relatedness to God or a Higher Power, then, (the spiritual dimension); to self, and
then, (the personal dimension), and, to others (the interpersonal dimension). The
link among these three dimensions is summarised by Smith (2002:61) when he
asks: “What is included in your spiritual dimension”? He answers, amongst
others: connectedness with self, a Higher Being, fellowman and nature. Put
differently, man is only capable of self-relatedness when he is God-related,
and he is only capable of others-relatedness when he is self-related.
In essence, the self-others relatedness is the foundation of the Personal and
Professional Leadership relevant model of Covey (1989:53). In this regard, a
Personal and Professional Leadership anthropology presupposes that “man is lost”
without social interaction and relatedness (Smith, 2001:5, translation mine), and
that he has need for acceptance and love: “Man wants to be appreciated for what
he is rather than for what he does or for what he possesses. He wants to feel that
he belongs to someone” (ibid.). The fundamental question that a Christian
perspective raises, is whether man can understand himself, as anthropological
imperative, without reference to God, such as the objective scientific knowledge of
the realist and the naturalist, or the subjective reason of man as thinking spirit of
the idealist (Gunter, 1961:310). The Christian perspective certainly does not
exclude the objective or subjective perspectives, but rather orders them under the
spiritual perspective of faith.
Essential anthropological characteristics of the Judaeo-Christian
anthropological perspective that are relevant to Personal and Professional
1. Man is a religious and spiritual being. Man is understood in terms of his
relationship with God, which is the primary objective, as well as in terms of his
relationship with himself and with his fellow-man, which is his secondary
objective (Matthew 22:34-40). Thus, man is because of his relationship with
God. Personal and Professional Leadership acknowledges that man is a
spiritual being in need of connectedness with the transcendental (Smith,
2001:6). As Van der Walt (1995:14) points out: the fact that man is the image
of God points to the fact that he is a religious being.
2. The spiritual dimension is primary and it is the core of human existence.
Man, therefore, finds his fullest possible fulfillment and meaning in being rooted
in God or the transcendental (Smith, 2002:61). Hence the spiritual dimension
is rooted in God but transcends into the rest of a person’s life in the quest for
personal meaning and purpose. However, as Van der Walt (1995:20-21)
points out, man is a multi-dimensional being where Biblical concepts such as
“heart”, “spirit”, “body”, “flesh”, “soul” and “mind” are not technically exact
concepts, but rather concepts with multi-layered meanings. The important
observation to make here is that: “Soul or spirit are thus not something in or
about man. Man does not have a soul or spirit, but he is soul and he is also
spirit” (Van der Walt, 1995:21). Although Personal and Professional
Leadership makes a distinction among the following existential dimensions, it
emphasises the essential integratedness of man and the priority of the spiritual
dimension as foundational: the spiritual dimension, the physical dimension, the
emotional dimension, the social dimension, the intellectual dimension, the
3. Man is a relational person-unto-himself (Smith, 2001:6) and finds personal
rootedeness in relatedness to God, and this, in turn, enables connectedness
with others (Smith, 2002:61). Thus man is also a relational being: Man has
need for social relatedness, belonging, acceptance and love from others,
because he is, by definition, a social being (Smith, 2001:6). Van der Walt
(1995:37) describes the link between the I-God relationship and the I-you
relationship: “Just as you cannot exist apart from your relationship with God,
the Bible also teaches explicitly that you can never as human function apart
from your neighbour” (my translation). In essence, the Judaeo-Christian
anthropology answers the age-old existential question: “”Why am I? What is
the purpose of my existence?” by answering: “I am loved, therefore I am. We
exist because God loves us!” (Van der Walt, 1995:38). And this is the quality of
relationship that is expressed toward God, toward self, and, finally toward
others and toward the world.
In the Islamic perspective that follows, the “freedom” of man is examined in terms
of his relatedness to God, which also impinges on man as a being capable of
morality. It will be shown that a monotheistic perspective qualifies personal
freedom as a “freedom for”, and a “freedom from”. This Islamic perspective is
echoed, in some way or other, in most monotheistic perspectives and direct
relevance for a discussion of the anthropological presuppositions of Personal and
2.1.2 The Islamic perspective: man is free from and free for
The question of man’s freedom is of fundamental importance in Islam (Murata
& Chittick, 1996:115). Disregarding the spiritual-religious dimension in a
discussion of man leaves the space virtually open and unhindered to interpret the
question of man’s freedom. However, taking into account the religious dimension
has a direct bearing on discussing this question. A Personal and Professional
Leadership anthropology presupposes that man is a bordered and limited being
(Smith, 2001:4). As a limited being, man has to learn to accept the inevitable, the
basic human fallibility and shortcomings as opportunities to give and find meaning
and purpose (ibid.). By birth, man is bound to certain “givens” of existence
(gender, physical characteristics, age, race, genetic composition, etc.) that are not
chosen and that cannot be altered by choice. It is, therefore, an Islamic
anthropological tenet that man has limited freedom of choice. However, man also
has the potential to choose his response to life, regardless of the unchangeable
(ibid.). In Personal and Professional Leadership, too, a distinction is made
between the freedom to choose (as unlimited potential), and the acceptance of that
which cannot be changed. Using the explanation of Covey (1989:85-86) on the
freedom to choose and the extent to which man is “in control” and able to make
free, unhindered decisions, a distinction needs to be made in Personal and
Professional Leadership between direct control, indirect control, and no control and
freedom to choose. The first is found within the attitude that man takes to his
personal life, exemplified by the discovery of Viktor Frankl in the Nazi death camps
of the Second World War: “He could decide within himself how all of this was
going to affect him” (Covey, 1989:69). The second is found in the indirect and
limited ways in which we influence people. The third involves “taking the
responsibility to change the line on the bottom of our face – to smile, to genuinely
and peacefully accept these problems and learn to live with them” (Covey,
Man’s relationship with God, in an Islamic anthropology, is a test to allow people to
prove their own nature. In an Islamic perspective of man, the question of
freedom is viewed in terms of man’s distance from God as well as his
nearness to God. In one sense, man is not free, and has no knowledge, power or
desire, since these are attributes of God and belong exclusively to Him (Murata &
Chittick, 1996:115). In another sense, man reflects the Divine attributes. In other
words, if it were characteristic of God to do as He pleases, then man were also free
to do as he pleases. In certain respects, then, man is not free, since he is not God,
and in other respects, he is free since he is created in God’s form, which embraces
all of God’s attributes, including personal freedom.
Thus, the Islamic view holds that man’s freedom has certain limitations, but,
regardless of these, choices remain (Murata & Chittick, 1996:115). Man is
tasked with realising this and with submitting to God voluntarily. By this
submission, man frees himself from everything other than God, and by so doing,
man frees himself for God. In other words, the ultimate meaning and purpose of
man’s existence is to prove himself, to show his stuff” (ibid.). Although man
possesses a concentration of the attributes of God, he possesses them in a
“weakened and dim manner” (123). But, man can overcome his own limitations, in
his struggle to prove himself, and move from distance (tanzih) to nearness
(tashbih). It is only by using his freedom to choose for God that man realises
his true nature (Murata & Chittick, 1996:124). It is common experience that some
people succeed in “showing their stuff” and others don’t. That human beings can
be lower than the beasts is a matter that all have experienced. Moral depravity, in
fact, is a specifically human characteristic. That human beings can be higher than
the angels, however, is not a matter of common experience, especially in our times
By using freedom of choice and volition, as explained above, man enables this
mostly dormant endowment and by so doing he experiences God’s nearness, and,
as a result of this, he is able to be fully human-for-God. However, the transition
from wandering in error and distance (tanzih) to following the truth (tashbih)
is a long and gradual process (Murata & Chittick, 1996, 127). The distinction
between people on either sides of this continuum is well captured by Murata and
Chittick (1996:119-120): “The human being is infinitely malleable. We never know
what we have when faced with a roomful of people. We could have saints and
serial killers, and never be able to tell the difference”.
Clearly, a discussion of man’s “freedom” to choose or not to choose interfaces with
a fundamental anthropological presupposition in Personal and Professional
Leadership, namely that man has the potential for morality (Smith, 2001:6).
Man can choose good or bad, that is, man has the potential to exercise morality.
But, as Smith (1988:41) points out, the emphasis is on potential for morality.
Essential anthropological characteristics of the Islamic perspective that are
relevant to Personal and Professional Leadership
1. Man is not free from God, and hence man can only authentically know
himself in his relation with God. The theistic dimension of this anthropology
is, therefore, indispensable. Man realises his essential human nature in terms
of his voluntary submission to God. God-directedness, in other words, is an
indispensable prerequisite for living a meaningful and purposeful life and
for understanding man. A God-directed, meaningful life experience, opens
the potential for morality. In other words, God-directedness is the catalyst to
awakening and enabling the moral potential that is dormant and resident in
man. The problem of “good and bad” and of “saints and serial killers” is,
therefore, a problem of the extent to which man directs his life to God. The
same sentiments are echoed in the Judaeo-Christian anthropology. This lays
the foundation for a discussion of the link between morality and volition, the
possibility to distinguish between right and wrong, and the possibility to choose
2. Man has an innate knowledge of the attributes of God, and hence man is
potentially “free” and also potentially capable of living a meaningful and
purposeful life. But, this requires volition and choice, which turns potential
into capability. Man can choose not to submit to God voluntarily and hence
also choose not to be free for God, since distance from God implies the lack of
freedom and moral discernment. Thus, man has the potential for morality
(Smith, 2001:6) which is enabled and activated by personal volition as part of a
God-directed life and hence for moral discernment. Existential authenticity, to
coin a phrase from another perspective, is defined in terms of man’s conscious
and deliberate choice for God. Although man lives within the confines of
his existential limitations, he has the freedom to choose the meaning he
finds in them. It is in the practice of submission to the will of God, and man’s
acceptance of his worldly fate as God’s purpose, that he surrenders to the
“wisdom and mercy of God” (Murata & Chittick, 1996:107) and thus
experiences closeness with God (tashbih) as his own ultimate purpose.
In the Buddhist perspective that follows, an example of an agnostic anthropological
perspective is given. Much value could also be had from distinguishing more
closely among the different Buddhist perspectives such as the Mahayana and
Theravada, as well as the later and more diverse forms of Buddhism such as Zen,
Lamaism, Tendai, Nichiren, Pure Land and Soka Gakkai. Although other non-
monotheistic perspectives were also studied (e.g.: Confucianism, Taoism and
Sufism), only the Buddhist perspective is reported here.
2.1.3 The Eastern spiritual perspective of man, Buddhism: man is
interdependent and karmic
Systems of eastern thought (like Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taosim and
Sufism) do not, in many respects, resemble either philosophy or religion as much
as they resemble the art of psychology and psychotherapy (Engler, 1985:432):
“Their basic concern is with the human situation: the suffering and frustrations
of human beings. They emphasise the importance of techniques to accomplish
change. Eastern thought aims at transformations in consciousness, feelings,
emotions, and one’s relation to other people and the world”.
Similarly, a Personal and Professional Leadership perspective, although it may
contain aspects of philosophy, psychology and religion, is aimed at the life
experience of people, and at making an active contribution to the improvement of
man’s being-in-the-world. In this sense, it is the anthropology of Personal and
Professional Leadership that aims at addressing and solving the problems of the
phenomenology of man-in-the-world. For this reason, a Buddhist perspective is
valuable and relevant to a discussion of the anthropological presuppositions of
Personal and Professional Leadership. There are several interfaces between a
Personal and Professional Leadership perspective and a Buddhist perspective,
which is essentially a non-theistic religion, but the scope of this essay doesn’t allow
a full exploration of these aspects. Instead, this essay will focus only on two
particular aspects that are relevant to Personal and Professional Leadership: (1)
the Buddhist teaching of the interrelatedness and interdependence of all
things, and, (2) the Buddhist teaching of Karma and its associated
responsibility for personal choices.
According to Metz (1982:230), Buddhism teaches that neither people nor the
world in which they live are units complete in themselves and separated from
other units: “They are composed of many individual elements which are in a
constant state of flux, always dissolving and combining with one another in new
ways”. In fact, a discussion of the interdependence of all things has as its corollary
the discussion of Karma (*Hershock, 2000). A Buddhist perspective is loath to
encapsulate some conception of “human nature” as a “set of fixed
characteristics” (*Hershock, 2000), since man is interconnected with all things
and hence he carries ”within” himself characteristics of all things. However, a
Buddhist perspective acknowledges that all human beings share “some essential
human nature” and stress, instead, that it is important to discern which view or
views of human nature are most conducive to resolving human conflicts, troubles
and suffering (ibid., italics mine).
In this sense, a Buddhist view of man, like that of a Personal and Professional
Leadership view of man, seeks to advance an anthropology that is at the service of
human growth and development, rooted in the “essential human nature”. In a
Buddhist perspective with its emphasis on the interrelatedness and
interdependence of all human beings, the world is seen as a place in which all
humans are intimately co-responsible and to which all human beings may
always and creatively contribute value.
“In such a world, it is not possible in any nontrivial sense to see ourselves as
autonomously existing individuals. We are, and have always been, given-
together. And thus, our most basic right is not ‘to be left alone’ but rather to
see the exact nature of our always shared responsibility and to realise the
greatest virtuosity possible in responding to our situation as needed”
Similarly, a Personal and Professional Leadership anthropological perspective
emphasises that people are “given-together” and share co-responsibility for
the world they live in. Not only is man capable of being responsible, but he is
also expected to be accountable to others (and to God or a Higher Power) for his
responsibility. Thus a Personal and Professional Leadership perspective
emphasises that man is both responsible and accountable. Moreover, the
Buddhist perspective underlines that human beings are “meaningfully
interdependent and not just factually co-present” (*Hershock, 2000). Discussing
interdependence in terms of a “maturity continuum”, for example, Covey (1989:49)
remarks that when a person reaches interdependence: “We further discover that
the higher reaches of our nature have to do with our relationships with others – that
human life also is interdependent”.
Man is, therefore, a social being. In fact, as Engler (1985:433) points out, true
consciousness in the Buddhist perspective involves being whole, “rising above the
level of individuality and becoming one with the cosmos and universal”. It is,
likewise, an emphasis in Personal and Professional Leadership that man truly
“becomes” when he transcends self and enters into interdependent relationships
with others and becomes connected with the “transcendent”, including God or a
Higher Power. Through careful training and self-discipline, man can attain to the
happiness of annihilating individual consciousness and hence he begins to
participate in the “experience of the Spirit” which is that aspect which lies “at our
very essence” and that moves man beyond individuality (Brennan, 1986:316). As
*Thurman (2002) points out, in the Buddhist perspective, inner peace is
created through mastery over self and ego, through mastery of internal
violence, and from this arises the possibility not only for compassion and empathy,
but also for personal and societal transformation.
A second key concept from a Mahayana Buddhist perspective (a more inclusive
and varied form of Buddhist thinking than the traditional Theravada Buddhism) is
Karma, which refers to the consequences of action that attach themselves to the
doer: the law of cause and effect.
“According to the teaching of Karma, the topography of our experience is
unfailingly conditioned by our own likes and dislikes and the patterns of intention
and action based upon them. Because of this, the relationships among events in
our lives and our places in them are never simply matters of fact, but must be
understood as always…meaningful” (*Hershock, 2000).
Zukav (1989:40) points out that, from the point of view of the individual personality,
Karma is experienced as a reversal in the direction of one’s intentions, a
coming back to the intender of the energy of his intention:
“The person who intends hatred for others experiences the intention of hatred
from others. The person who intends love for others experiences the intention
of love from others…The Golden Rule is a behavioural guide that is based
upon the dynamic of Karma. A personalised statement of Karma would be,
‘You receive from the world what you give to the world’”.
This leaves man with the active responsibility to make decisions that enhance the
quality of life and that set into motion a chain of phenomena that are positive and
constructive, a moral decision in favour of the “good”. Personal and Professional
Leadership, likewise, holds that man is responsible (response + able) for his
actions (Smith, 2001:7), and that negative intentions will necessarily have
negative consequences. As Covey (1989:91) remarks: “We are free to choose our
response in any situation, but in doing so, we choose the attendant consequence.
‘When we pick up one end of the stick, we pick up the other’”. As a universal
principle, the idea of Karma, or cause-effect, is not unique to Buddhism or any
other religious perspective:
“The principles I am referring to are not esoteric, mysterious, or ‘religious’
ideas…These principles are a part of most every major enduring religion, as
well as enduring social philosophies and ethical systems” (Covey, 1989:91).
Viewing man in cross-existential karmic terms (which is not necessarily an
imperative in Personal and Professional Leadership), emphasises the importance
of personal decisions and the effect that this has on directing one’s life
(which is an imperative in Personal and Professional Leadership). As *Hershock
(2000) remarks: truly resolving some present trouble or crisis means realising the
Karma (the complex of intentions) that has conditioned its arising, and doing
whatever is needed in order to ensure that these conditions will not be repeated.
This means that suffering can only be resolved “when one both understands where
one’s intentions have erred and takes whatever measures are required to make
sure that this is the last that we find our narration blocked or subverted in this way”
(ibid.). In this sense, Covey (1989:73) remarks that it is not what happens to us in
life that is of paramount importance, but rather our chosen response to what
happens to us. It is an anthropological presupposition in Personal and
Professional Leadership that man has the freedom to choose his response and
hence to redirect the direction and the quality of his life (Smith, 2001:7).
Essential anthropological characteristics of the Buddhist perspective that
are relevant to Personal and Professional Leadership
1. Man is a social being and he is interconnected to all other human beings
and to the Transcendent. Man is not free to choose his interrelatedness and
interdependence, it is “given”. As Smith (2002:81) remarks: “Human beings
are social beings. Association with others is a fundamental human need. Our
happiness, our self-esteem, our moods, our capacity to flourish, all are
influenced enormously by our relationships”. This leaves man with the
responsibility and accountability, at both individual and societal levels, to
harness the forces of “good” and to create a society in which man is able to be
authentic and real.
2. Man realises his true humanness when he transcends self and chooses
the quality of his interdependence with others. This is only accomplished
by self-discipline and forming relationships from the spiritual dimension. Thus
the vertical and horisontal dimensions meet in this perspective. “A fundamental
characteristic of every human being and part of their nature is
spirituality…although we are reliant on our fellow man, these relationships don’t
come as naturally as one would expect…” (Smith, 2002:87). Thus, the inherent
need for relatedness to others is also often the source that prevents man from
becoming all that he can be and the value that people van bring to each other.
3. Man chooses his own lot. Despite the “givens” of existence, man has the
freedom to choose his response and to cause his own effects. Choices have
consequences, and man is capable of choosing his consequences by his
intentions. Smith (2002:41) likewise emphasises that: “…each of us
determines our own well-being, irrespective of our circumstances…our
behaviour is the result of our decisions or choices, not our conditions and
In summary, then, the following summary of a religious anthropological perspective
can be made:
% 7 $ & ! !" #
SPIRITUAL AND 1. The Judaeo- Man-is-for-God: Man’s freedom is limited by
RELIGIOUS Christian the imperative to choose for God
perspective of man
PERSPECTIVES Man’s freedom is a freedom for God
2. The Islamic Man’s fullest purpose and meaning is in
perspective of man God
All people have the potential to live
meaningful and fulfilled moral lives
Man has the potential for morality
Man has the freedom to choose the
meaning in his life’s situations: he has to
accept what he cannot change, and engage
with that which he can change
Man is a religious and spiritual being: the
spiritual dimension is the core dimension
Man has the capacity for personal
relationships of love, at intimate and social
Man is a relational being: I-it, I-you and I-
3. The Eastern Every human being is related to every other
spiritual human being and to the whole cosmos
perspective of man
People are given-together
Man’s world is one of co-responsibility and
Man is a social and moral being
Inner peace is gained through mastery of
self and the ego and transcending into
meaningful relationships with the world and
Man has full responsibility for his choices,
made or unmade
Choice and thought lead to deeds, and
deeds lead to consequences: man is
responsible for his actions
Man is not a “set of fixed characteristics”
since he is in constant flux and change
-( % "
In the philosophical perspectives that follow, it will be demonstrated that the
anthropology of Personal and Professional Leadership, besides being rooted in a
monotheistic perspective, is also rooted in philosophical perspectives that have gained
much prominence since the Renaissance, in an eclectic manner. In this regard, the
following perspectives are discussed here: naturalism, idealism and pragmatism.
3.1 The naturalist perspective
Although the roots of this perspective are already found in the old Greek atomistic
philosophy, the modern influences are a result of the Renaissance and its
attendant scientific discoveries. Philosophy and natural science, in this
perspective, are intertwined. Whereas Plato absolutised the reasonable dimension
of man, Aristotle moved away from this by emphasising that not only “form” was
important, but also “matter” (Coetzee, 1965:43). In this perspective, the
philosophical investigation of science should be assisted and constrained by
*Downes (2001) remarkss that naturalists are usually more easily identified by
what they are against, than by a common core of methods or approaches that they
share. This perspective emphasises the need for scientific investigation in the
endeavour to understand man and his world. Man is seen as a product of
mechanistic, evolutionary and genetic factors, at best and, as such, a part of
nature (Van Wyk, 1979:24). “Self” is defined purely in terms of the physical, the
genetic and the materialistic. The physical reality is primary and thus human
behaviour is defined in terms of physical interaction with a physical environment
(Gunter, 1961:38). Since man is determined and regulated by genetic and natural
laws, he is not free (Blanchard, 2000:88; Gunter, 1961:42).
However, as McGuffin and Gottesman (1985:17) point out, genetic predisposition
to, for example, certain psychological phenomena, does not mean that these
conditions are “untreatable”. It is a “serious and surprisingly persistent
misconception” (ibid.). With its emphasis on the physical and the natural, an
interface is found with the Personal and Professional Leadership emphasis
on the interconnectedness of body and mind. Of particular importance to
Personal and Professional Leadership is the question about whether man lives a
genetically and unalterably pre-determined life, or whether behaviour is formed by
the dynamic interaction between man and his physical and social environment. In
his critique of deterministic theories, Covey (1989:67-68) points out that there are
three predominant models: (1) genetic determinism that postulates that: “…your
grandparents did it to you. That’s why you have such a temper…it’s in your DNA”
(67-68), (2) psychic determinism that postulates that “your parents did it to you.
Your upbringing, your childhood experience essentially laid out your personal
tendencies and your character structure” (68), and, (3) environmental determinism
that postulates that “your boss is doing it to you – or your spouse, or that bratty
teenager, or your economic situation, or national policies” (68).
It is a characteristic Personal and Professional Leadership emphasis that man has
the ability to choose the quality of this life, irrespective of predisposing genetic and
environmental factors, and yet without disregarding the limiting constraints of such
factors (Smith, 2002:41). If man were merely a “product” and a genetically
determined being, then the Personal and Professional Leadership case for
personal change and proactive responsibility would be unimpressive. As McGuffin
and Gottesman (1985:30, italics mine) remark:
“Old-fashioned ideas about the equating of genes with determinism have no
place in modern genetic theories…Throughout infancy, childhood,
adolescence, adulthood, and senescence, there is a dynamic epigenetic
interplay between the changing environment and the changing genetic
constitution. Each new stress may evoke latent genetic possibilities that reveal
unknown strengths or weaknesses”.
Essential anthropological characteristics of the naturalist perspective that
are relevant to Personal and Professional Leadership
1. Man is a genetic being and a complex unity of physical and metabolical
processes. This perspective emphasises the “nature” component of the
“nature versus nurture” debate. A Personal and Professional Leadership
perspective takes account, for example, of the possible dynamic interaction
between genetic predisposing factors and sociocultural factors to conditions
such as major depressive disorders (*Mendlewicz & Rainer, 1977; Tsuang,
1978), or the combination of environmental and genetic factors in phenomena
such as drug abuse and delinquency (*Schukit, 1980). The tendency to
overemphasise the genetic at the cost of the sociocultural in this perspective
needs to take account of the view of the Royal College of Psychiatrists that
points out that “there is no good reason to consider the sociocultural and
genetic explanations as mutually exclusive and opposed” (Strang & Connell,
2. Of particular relevance to Personal and Professional Leadership is the extent to
which man has responsibility for his personal choices if they were conditioned
by external factors in the external environment. Personal and Professional
Leadership accepts the influence of genetic factors and the conditioned
environment on human behaviour, but it questions the automatic stimulus
response mode of classical conditioning. Covey (1994:83), for example,
expands the response repertoire between stimulus and response and assumes
that man is capable of being proactive since he has potential to choose his
attitude in situations. Hence man is capable of mitigating environmental
influences by means of self-awareness, imagination, conscience and
independent will (Covey, 1989:71). Whereas a naturalist perspective suggests
that man is reactive in the sense that he cannot will things to happen (Jones,
1998:1), a Personal and Professional Leadership perspective suggests that
man is proactive and that he has the ability to choose his response in any given
situation (Smith, 2001:7).
3.2 The idealist perspective
Idealism has its roots in Socratic thinking. In contrast with the naturalistic
perspective, the idealist chooses apriorism as a point of departure, that is,
knowledge comes from within and is inborn and innate. Both man and the external
world are reasonable. Discovery of the reasonable structure of the world ensures
the acquisition of knowledge, and thus man discovers his own reasonableness and
awakens to self-consciousness (Gunter, 1961:108). Knowledge of “truth” is inborn
because the reasonable soul is a projection of the rational world. But, at birth, a
person is not conscious of this reasonableness since his reasonable soul inhabits a
mortal body. The external world awakens and “reminds” man’s soul of his apriori
knowledge of the “truth”. Knowledge, therefore, is “reminding” (Gunter, 1961:108).
The world is seen as a teleological developmental process from lower to higher
forms (111). Although the idealist does not necessarily exclude evolution, he
explains it, contrary to the naturalist’s perspective, in terms of reasonable and
universal principles and laws, and not merely in terms of biological and natural
principles and laws (112). Evolution is goal-oriented: the progressive actualisation
of reasonableness which acts as a reasonable “draw” and not as a physical-
Essential anthropological characteristics of the naturalist perspective that
are relevant to Personal and Professional Leadership
1. In the Idealist perspective, the physical, lower “self” is contrasted with the
reasonable, higher “self”, but the link between the body and the soul is
fundamental. Although reason and body are distinguished, they are not
separated, and hence the idealist perspective, like the Personal and
Professional Leadership perspective, views man in holistic terms and stresses
the interrelatedness of mind and body as mutually influencing dimensions of
human existence. In addition to the physical and mental dimensions, Personal
and Professional Leadership adds four other dimensions: the spiritual (core),
the emotional, the social, and the work and financial dimension (Smith,
2002:59). As already pointed out in the discussion of the religious perspectives
of man, the core and foundational dimension is the spiritual, with the supportive
and “anchor” physical dimension as a “second layer foundation” (ibid.).
2. Another interface between the Idealist perspective and the Personal and
Professional Leadership perspective is the importance that is given to the
mental dimension. As Smith (2002:73) remarks:
“Your thoughts are immensely powerful. It can be applied as a constructive
or destructive force in your life. The power of thought is around us in our
daily living, e.g.: telepathy, power of one’s intuition, the placebo effect and
The idealist perspective also views man’s behaviour in teleological terms:
behaviour is goal-oriented.
3. Man is a principle-centered being. Although man, as self-conscious
reasonableness, is free in his actions and self-determining, he is never the less
subjected to the objective, divine principles that he shares in part within, in his
reasonable self. Similarly, Covey (1989:34-35) acknowledges universal
principles (such as fairness, integrity, honesty, human dignity, service,
potential, growth, patience, nurturance and encouragement):
“Principles are guidelines for human conduct that are proven to have
enduring, permanent value. They’re fundamental. They’re essentially
unarguable because they are self-evident. One way to quickly grasp the
self-evident nature of principles is to simply consider the absurdity of
attempting to live an effective life based on their opposites” (italics mine).
4. Man is a cultural being who imprints, through cultural creation, his reason
onto nature, and thus he actualises his potential. The world of culture is the
medium through which reasonable selves interact in order for the individual to
become a person, that is, the internal apriori. It is in this cultural interaction that
man becomes what he ought to be: reasonable-moral, responsible, free and
self-determining. It is essentially by means of social relations that man
actualises his apriori potential. The task and duty of man is to become
himself. Self-actualisation is the development of his inborn potential under the
control of his reasonable, higher self. It is, therefore, man’s task to develop
from a natural to a cultural being.
3.3 The pragmatist perspective
Although this perspective has its roots in the Greek sophists, it was only toward the
end of the 19th century that the name “pragmatist” was given to this ancient Greek
perspective (Gunter, 1961:164). It has had a particular impact on the American
continent with its pragmatist sense and is often referred to as a “philosophy of
action” (ibid.). Pragmatists seek a philosophy that bestows a sense of dignity on
human life and that emphasises the goal-oriented character of the whole psychic
life. It pleads for the freedom and equality of all, for personal responsibility and the
demands of will and affect (Gunter, 1961:165), as opposed to the demands of the
intellect in the natural and idealistic perspectives.
Pragmatists desire to return to concrete experience in the here-and-now which is
also the only acknowledged source of knowledge (Gunter, 1961:166). Experience
constantly changes and hence truth is not static but rather a dynamic, constant
unfolding. Hence, there are no apriori truths that are eternal and changeless as in
the idealist perspective. Truth is constituted in the process of experience and is
always relative to the situation and the individual who experiences it. Ideas,
concepts and principles are true if they work. Experience is the source of truth and
it is measured against its usefulness.
Essential anthropological characteristics of the pragmatist perspective that
are relevant to Personal and Professional Leadership
1. Whereas the idealist perspective emphasises thinking based on apriori
presuppositions, the pragmatist perspective emphasises activity. Man’s will is
fundamental and his action is primary. Thus the pragmatist emphasises the
connection between thinking and doing. In this perspective, thinking is the
instrument of doing. In other words, man does not think for the sake of “truth”,
but for the sake of action. Contrary to the idealist’s perspective, thinking is
seen as a process of taking action, and it is only one, secondary aspect of
experience. Action, experience and thinking cannot be separated. Personal
and Professional Leadership, likewise, emphasises the importance of thinking
in behaving. Palmer (2000:57-59) and Smith (2002:36-37) discuss the
cognitive model of *Ellis (1962) that illustrates this link, where:
• A refers to positive or negative activators
• B refers to the thinking “belief-window” or perceptions
• C refers to the consequences of behaviour
• D refers to the disputing of the negatively held thinking on the belief-window
• E refers to a potentially effective, and new outlook on life, dependent on an
effective dispute of negative thinking
Man is not merely a physical organism who interacts with his environment
according to physical and natural principles, but he is an active and dynamic,
thinking and behaving being. In the Pragmatist perspective, thinking is the result
and a part of man’s struggle to exist and to make a better physical, external
existence. Thinking is therefore aimed at problem-solving in this process. Thus
thinking is aimed at the future. Man is free, therefore, insofar as he has the
potential to grow, and he has this potential because he is capable of learning from
experience. Freedom is the ability to choose among experiences and to solve
problems and thus to remove obstacles in the way of personal growth.
However, Personal and Professional Leadership would place problem-solving and
rational thinking, essentially, against the backdrop of the “bigger picture”, that is,
“Being” whose power and effect is described by Cashman (2000:135) as: “having
the power to transform yourself physically and emotionally when you are feeling
tired and stressed…problems turning to opportunities, irritation to compassion,
alienation to connection”. And thus, man is seen as more than merely an adapting-
being-in-the-world, in search of more suitable existentially physical conditions.
“…feeling, thinking, and action all have one non-changing ‘thing’ in common –
Being. To feel, to think, to act, we first must be. The pure state of Being underlies
all areas of life” (Smith:2002,114).
In summary, then, the philosophical perspective can be summarised as follows:
7 $ & ! !" #
TRADITIONAL 1. Naturalist perspective Man is a genetic being and a
of man complex unity of physical
PERSPECTIVES Human behaviour is a result of
conditioning from the environment
Education is dehumanising and
2. Idealist perspective of Man can be educated and guided
man to self-growth
Man and the external world are
Inborn “truth” is dormant and is
awakened by the external world
The body and the soul are
expressions of the same system,
albeit the soul is “higher” than the
Man is a self-conscious being and
hence he is self determined and
can set goals and to attain them
Man is a value-being and when he
fulfills the demands of morality, he
Man is a cultural being and
actualises his potential through his
3. Pragmatist perspective Man is in constant dynamic
of man interaction with his world
Man can adapt to his environment
Man continually becomes, as a
dynamic biological organism, by
means of his internal dynamics
Man’s will is fundamental and his
action is primary
Man thinks for the sake of action,
not for the sake of “truth”
Thinking is aimed at problem-
The thinking-doing link is
Man can learn from experience
and change as a result of this
.( +) # % "
In this section, only the existential-phenomenological and the Marxist perspectives are
discussed as examples of contemporary anthropological thinking.
4.1 The Existential-phenomenological perspective
At the core of human existence, in the existentialist perspective, according to
Maddi (1989:139), is “the emphasis on being genuine, honest, and true and on
making decisions and shouldering responsibility for them”. In other words, the core
tendency in man is “to achieve authentic being”, which refers to “the special quality
of existing that is characteristic of humans, a quality that heavily involves mentality,
intelligence, and awareness” (138). However, life and its inherently frightening and
demanding nature make it impossible for most people to live authentically. This
constant striving to become authentic, honest and true is best understood in terms
of the immediate, vividly appreciated experience of life, and not in terms of a
naturalistic analysis of the constituent parts of this experience.
Karl and Hamalian (1973:11) likewise point out that it is a characteristic
existentialist emphasis that man feels alienated from an absurd world, recognising
it as meaningless and negative, and hence his experience of “soul-scarring
anxieties” (11). In this sense, an existentialist perspective is relevant to the
experience of modern man in a time of “swift change when the sensitive individual
finds himself fragmented and virtually destroyed by the exigencies of modern life”
(ibid.). It is for this reason that an existentialist perspective is a “philosophy of
disorientation” (12) that seeks answers in the immediate phenomenological
experience of man in his everyday life.
And so it becomes a perspective that reveals “the anguished journey of the spirit
through the dark night of nothingness” (ibid.). Van Peursen (1948:8-9) remarks
that the importance of an existentialist perspective is particularly relevant in a world
of fundamental uncertainty, wars, immorality, epidemics and social threats. Man
discovers in this experience his limitations and feels his inherent self-confidence
undermined. The known, the safe and the accepted have become relative and
uncertain. Gunter (1961, p. 243) adds that man, in this world-experience, has had
to trade in the experience of safety and security for anxiety and doubt. With this
comes the realisation that suffering, pain and death are unavoidable and thus man
questions the meaning and purpose of life and of the world. In this existential
experience, the rationality and idealistic thinking of the naturalists and idealists,
discussed earlier, seem a far cry from the experience of man in this world. Instead,
man is thrown back onto himself and is tasked with inquiring about his fundamental
reason for being, the very heart of the existentialist perspective!
Engler (1985:466) points out that, in the existentialist perspective, man cannot play
the role of an uninvolved and detached observer because he is already a
participant in the unfolding drama of existence. As Allen (1953:3) puts it:
“Existentialism is an attempt at philosophising from the standpoint of the actor
instead of, as has been customary, from that of the spectator”. Essentially, then,
the existential perspective is one that seeks to understand the struggle for personal
authenticity and meaningfulness in an increasingly “absurd” world and thus man’s
response to life has to be intensely personal. Engler (1985:467) remarks:
“Existentialism begins with personal existence. It asks, ‘What does it mean to
be a self?’ It questions the purpose and nature of existence. It views each
individual as an agent with free choice who is responsible for his or her actions.
Each one of us carves out our own destiny. We are literally what we do. The
existentialist posture leads to an emphasis on choice and responsibility and to
the view that a worthwhile life is one that is authentic, honest, and genuine”.
Viktor Frankl (1975:28-29) suggested that the way man can find meaning in this
existentially absurd and meaningless world is by engaging with it as a “whole”
person, which refers to the body-psyche-spirit unity, but by centering on the
spiritual dimension. Similarly, Personal and Professional Leadership views man in
holistic terms, centered on the spiritual dimension (Smith, 2002:61). Wholeness, in
this context, means the integration of somatic, psychic and spiritual aspects and
that without the spiritual as its essential ground and center, this wholeness cannot
exist. As Frankl remarks: “We mean to emphasise that the person has a
psychophysical overlay, whereas the person is spiritual” (28). Comparing the
existentialist perspective with that of the naturalists and idealists, it is clear that it is
explicitly anti-rationalistic and anti-systematic (Gunter, 1961: 247). In particular,
the existentialist perspective revolts against the primacy of reason and its
preference for a set and closed system.
To existentialists it is the concrete, physical situation and experience of man that is
important. However, reason is not disregarded but given its rightful place in the
bigger picture of human existence. In the existentialist perspective, the point of
departure is lived experience. Man is not, as in the naturalist and realist
perspectives, an object in a world of objects, or a being in a purely spiritual world,
as in the idealist perspective. In these perspectives, man is an abstraction and the
real, concrete and existing man is absent. To existentialists, man is neither object
among objects, nor pure spirit or pure reason (ibid.). If man is to succeed in this
world, he will have to engage with it in his totality and make responsible choices.
Essential anthropological characteristics of the existential-
phenomenological perspective that are relevant to Personal and Professional
1. Man is a complex being, and essentially indescribable.
2. Man is incomplete and open-ended: man continually “becomes”.
3. Man is a temporal being-unto-death.
4. Man is a whole and integrated being, centered on the spiritual dimension.
5. Man is truly man in his directedness towards others.
6. Man is essentially free to choose his response, especially towards the things
that cannot be changed or chosen (e.g.: race, age, gender, history, etc.).
4.2 The Marxist perspective
Stevenson and Haberman (1998:130) point out that a discussion of the Marxist
perspective of man needs to take care not to be coloured by our retrospective
knowledge of the rise and fall of communism in the 20th century. This is a point of
view that is too easily forgotten in a discussion of a Marxist perspective, especially
as it applies to the anthropological view of this perspective. Essentially, Karl Marx
was an atheist, and hence the general trend in his thought is deterministic and
materialistic (134). His method was rational-scientific. However, Marx claimed to
have found “the truly scientific method” for studying the historical development of
human society (135), a claim that is sustained throughout this perspective.
However, Marx was not a reductionist, and he longed for the day when there would
be a “single science” that included physics, psychology, sociology, biology and
In this, a Personal and Professional Leadership perspective shares an inclusive
and interdisciplinary approach to studying man form a variety of scientific
perspectives, and on a variety of levels and dimensions. However, similar to a
Marxist perspective, much emphasis is placed in the Personal and Professional
Leadership perspective on the human dimension of work and career (Smith,
2002:82-84), albeit the Personal and Professional Leadership perspective does not
view this dimension as the “essential” dimension as in a Marxist perspective.
The Marxist perspective rejects the notion of a “fixed, individual human
nature” (Stevenson & Haberman, 1998:140) and proposes that “what is true of
people in one society or period may not be true of them in another place and time”
(ibid.). On the contrary, a Personal and Professional Leadership perspective holds
to a generic anthropology that that can be described as the “fixed, individual
human nature” (ibid.) or the “essential human nature” (3). However, the value for
Personal and Professional Leadership of the Marxist perspective rests therein that
it comprehensively addresses two cardinal aspects of the integrated and
multidimensional Personal and Professional Leadership view of man, namely the
social-work dimension. This essay explores the Marxist perspective in this regard.
*Hirszowicz (1998) points out that the Marxist view of man is characterised by
three basic elements: The recognition of the right to individual development; a
joint social responsibility for the satisfaction of individual wants; and, the
realisation of social relationships. In this essay, emphasis is placed on “labour”,
and its relevance to the Personal and Professional Leadership perspective, in
terms of the above three elements, since, to Marx, the “human essence” is labour
(Roseberry, 1997:27). In the Marxist perspective, consciousness is determined by
the material conditions of life. But, a Marxist perspective does not hold that
consciousness is entirely determined by material events (Stevenson & Haberman,
1998:140). Instead of identifying consciousness with brain processes, a Marxist
perspective emphasises the essentially social nature of man. Man is an active
being, and people who act within and upon socially, politically and culturally
constituted relationships, institutions and conventions, reproducing some whilst
changing others, make “real history” (Marx, 1974:146).
Although a Personal and Professional Leadership perspective acknowledges the
social dimension of man, it does not place it at the center and it does not view this
dimension as the foundational, core dimension. Instead, a Personal and
Professional Leadership perspective places the spiritual dimension at the core
(Smith, 2002:59). In a Marxist perspective, every human act is essentially a
social act “which presupposes the existence of other people standing in certain
relations to him or her” (Stevenson & Haberman, 1998:140). The kind of individual
that one is, and what one does, are determined by the kind of society one lives in.
A Personal and Professional Leadership perspective also underlines the individual-
society interface and the importance of a study of the phenomenology of man’s life
world and its perceived impact on man’s sense of freedom to be and to act. The
particular interface between a Marxist and Personal and Professional Leadership
perspective is that “sociology is not reducible to psychology” (ibid.).
With the characteristic Marxist emphasis on the “sociology” (society), it commits
the same sin as the contemporary social scientific emphasis on the “psychology”
(individual). In this regard, *Amselle and De Jager (1993) point out that the history
of social sciences has shown a tendency to pass from sociologism and objectivism,
to individualism, interactionsism and phenomenology. “Within this new paradigm,
one trains one’s sights on the individual and, particularly, on the outside individual
who creates the group” (ibid.).
A Personal and Professional Leadership perspective circumvents the sociology-
psychology dichotomy by viewing man as multidimensional, inclusive of both. It is
against this backdrop that the dimension of labour, and its relevance to a Personal
and Professional Leadership perspective, is now discussed. Despite the Marxist
emphasis on the social, changeable nature of man, there is at least one universal
generalisation that a Marxist perspective is willing to make about human nature:
“…we are active, productive beings, we are different by nature from other animals
because we produce our means of subsistence…we make conscious plans for our
livelihood” (Stevenson & Haberman, 1998:140).
It is indeed a Marxist characteristic to link the productive, value-adding individual
and the larger society, in terms of a constantly changing and transforming societal
dynamic (Jordaan & Jordaan, 1989:820; Roseberry, 1997:27). Some people
succeed in contributing to a changing society, while others fail to do so. Of special
importance to Personal and Professional Leadership is the Marxist view of
“alienation” which is viewed as a “lack of fulfillment in industrial labour” (Stevenson
& Haberman, 1998:141).
“Marx describes this alienation of labour as consisting in the fact that the work
is not part of the worker’s nature; he does not fulfill himself in his work but feels
miserable, physically exhausted, and mentally debased. His work is forced on
him as a means for satisfying other needs, and at work he does not ‘belong to
himself’, he is under the control of other people” (Stevenson & Haberman,
In the Marxist perspective, man is distinguished from animal by means of labour
(Steigerwald, 1979:104), but in the capitalist system, especially, man is alienated
because man is controlled and governed by what he produces (Van der Walt &
Postma, 1987:123). In other words, what man is, is determined by his production,
that which he produces, and how he produces (ibid.). The Marxist perspective
seems to be saying that “alienation” consists in a lack of community, so people
cannot see their work as contributing to a group of which they are members. As
Stevenson and Haberman (1998:144) remark: “Perhaps we can express Marx’
main point in a paraphrase of Jesus’ saying about the Sabbath: production is
intended for man, not man for production”. In this sense, Marx postulated that man
must be free to sell his labour to the possessor of capital, and that he must be
freed from ownership or control, in a community of producers (Roseberry, 1997,
35). Although not a specific imperative in Personal and Professional Leadership,
the value of this view underlines the importance of volitional labour, based on
personal skill and talent.
Likewise, a Personal and Professional Leadership perspective emphasises that
man is tasked with adding value to society, as individual, and that engaging in
labour that expresses individual talent and skills, in service of others, is what
constitutes fulfillment in the career-professional dimension. Cashman (2000:20)
echoes this fundamental assumption in Personal and Professional Leadership:
“Leadership is authentic self-expression that creates value”, with a clear balance
between self and others, yet with priority of the self. In addition, the production-
man interface is illustrated by a fundamental principle in Personal and Professional
Leadership: the balance between “what is produced”, and the “producing asset”,
man. Discussing this principle in terms of Aesop’s fable of the goose and the
golden eggs, Covey (1989:54) remarks:
“If you adapt a pattern of life that focuses on golden eggs and neglects the
goose, you will soon be without the asset that produces the golden eggs. On
the other hand, if you only take care of the goose with no aim toward the
golden eggs, you soon won’t have the wherewithal to feed yourself or the
Essential anthropological characteristics of the Marxist perspective that are
relevant to Personal and Professional Leadership
1. There is no fixed, static human nature: man constantly changes and adapts to
2. Man has the right to individual development.
3. People have a joint social responsibility for the satisfaction of individual wants
4. Man is essentially a social being who is tasked with active production that
adds value to society at large.
7 $ & ! !" #
20th CENTURY 1. The existential- Man has to be true, genuine, honest,
PERSPECTIVES phenomenological authentic and sincere
perspective of man
OF MAN Man is a spiritual creature that seeks
for purpose and meaning in life
Man has to make decisions and
shoulder full responsibility for them
Man struggles in anguish to live in
this modern world
Man is confronted with his personal
death, isolation, freedom and anxiety
Man is a holistic being, centered on
the spiritual dimension
Man becomes authentic and “real” in
his connectedness with others
2. The Marxist Man has no “fixed human nature”
perspective Man has the right to individual
Man has joint social responsibility for
the satisfaction of societal wants and
Man is essentially a social being, and
every solitary human act is, in fact, a
Man is a productive being that adds
value to his world and livelihood
Man often feels alienation in his work
which is the result of a lack of
fulfillment in industrial labour, and a
lack of community
Man is tasked with adding value to
This chapter aims at enriching the anthropological presuppositions of Personal and
Professional Leadership by exploring certain eclectic interfaces with spiritual and
religious perspectives of man, traditional philosophical perspectives of man, and with
20th century perspectives of man. Although certain pertinent and specific interfaces
were reported with the above-mentioned anthropological perspectives, it was pointed out
throughout that the study of man is indeed far-reaching and inexhaustible. In the next
chapter, the summary and findings of this essay are reported, as well as the limitations
of this essay and recommendations for future research. In order to demonstrate the
relevance to Personal and Professional Leadership, the essential anthropological
presuppositions are presented in terms of man’s six life-dimensions: spiritual, physical,
social, emotional, intellectual, financial-work.
# 6" ! ! !
Chapter 1 introduces the research orientation and design by discussing the research
context, the research problem, aim and methodology, and the paradigm within which the
research will be conducted. It is pointed out that there is a need for a renewed interest
in anthropology in the contemporary, post-modernist, world since man has experienced
large-scale and fundamental societal and personal changes, and is constantly asking
meaning-laden questions about himself and his place in this rapidly-changing world. In
Chapter 2 a concept analysis of “anthropology” and “Personal and Professional
Leadership” is undertaken. This chapter also reports the already-existing
anthropological presuppositions of Personal and Professional Leadership. The aim with
this discussion is to identify, analyse and discuss the already-existing anthropological
presuppositions and perspective of Personal and Professional Leadership. In Chapter 3
a literature study is undertaken that enriches the anthropological presuppositions of
Personal and Professional Leadership. The following perspectives are discussed: (1)
spiritual and religious perspectives of man (the Judaeo-Christian perspective, the Islamic
perspective, and the Eastern spiritual perspective of man: Buddhism), (2) traditional
philosophical perspectives of man (the naturalist perspective, the idealist perspective,
the pragmatist perspective), (3) 20th century perspectives of man (the existential-
phenomenological perspective, the Marxist perspective). It is demonstrated that there
are several interfaces between the anthropological presuppositions of Personal and
Professional Leadership (PPL) and the perspectives that are discussed in this essay.
The aim with this discussion is to enrich the already-existing anthropological
presuppositions of Personal and Professional Leadership. Chapter 4 summarises the
findings of the research, and contributes to a specifically characteristic Personal and
Professional Leadership view of man since it presents its findings (essential
anthropological presuppositions) in terms of man’s six life-dimensions: spiritual,
physical, social, emotional, intellectual and finance-work.
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The findings of this essay, taken from the various sources that were studied, are
summarised and presented in terms of man’s six life-dimensions. The anthropological
presuppositions are numbered in order to facilitate easier reading and because of their
Man is a multi-dimensional being (Frankl, 1975:28-29; Smith, 2002:61). Although six
life-dimensions are distinguished in PPL, they are not separated. In this sense, PPL has
an holistic view of man.
Man is a spiritual being. The spiritual dimension is the “core dimension”. As a result,
man has the need for a Higher Being (Smith, 2002:61; Stevenson & Haberman,
1998:74; Zohar & Marshall, 2000:4).
Man has the potential to become “spiritually intelligent”. People can learn how to
optimize this dimension in their lives and live spiritually-centered, meaningful and
fulfilling lives “from the inside-out” (Zohar & Marshall, 2000:226-227).
Man continuously searches for meaning and purpose in life. As “seeker” who wants to
“be someone”, man is a seeker of meaning: the meaning of personal existence, and the
meaning of people and things that across his path in life (Cashman, 2000:67; Covey,
1992:297; Frankl, 1975:28-29).
Man is a principle-centered and value-centered being. A distinction is made between
universal “principles” and personal “values”. Man’s life is founded on what is believed to
“matter most” (Covey, 1989:74-75; Zohar & Marshall. 2000:22-23).
Man wants to “be someone”: unique, special and unrepeatable. People have the need
to be successful in life, to express themselves in a personal and unique way and to find
fulfillment in life (Cashman, 2000:67; Mol, 1985:52-53).
Man has the potential for morality. People have the potential to distinguish between
“right” and “wrong”, “good” and “bad” (Murata & Chittick, 1996:124, 129; Smith, 2001:6;
Stevenson & Haberman, 1998:75; Zohar & Marshall, 2000:5, 96).
Man is a creative and imaginative being. People can reframe and recreate the meaning
of their worlds and their options in life (Cashman, 2000:177; Engler, 1985:473; Scheffler,
Man has the ability to reflect on his life and to know himself. People have the capacity
for self-awareness, and as such, they have the capacity to understand and solve their
problems (Allen, 1953:3; Engler, 1985:466; Goleman, 1996:46-48; Maddi, 1989:138).
Man has the inborn need to learn and to develop himself. People need to grow,
develop, and to “become”. This is the self-actualising tendency in man (Covey, 1989:34;
Smith, 1988:37; Smith, 2001:4).
Man is personally responsible for the quality of his life. With choices come
consequences, and people to own the consequences of their thoughts, feelings and
actions (Covey, 1989:91; Smith, 2001:7).
Man is in need of safety and security. This need is parallel to the level of experienced
helplessness. The need for safety and security is not only in the physical dimension, but
it is also experienced in each of the life-dimensions (Smith, 2001:7).
Man has the potential to become “physically intelligent”. People can learn how to
optimise this dimension in their lives, and live lives that are characterised by health and
well-being (Goleman, 1996:164-166; Zohar & Marshall, 2000:29-30).
Man is a bordered and limited being. People did not choose to be born with the genetic-
physical limitations that they have. Man is a physical being who is bound by time and
space, a being-unto-death (Murata & Chittick, 1996:115).
Man is a social being. People need to belong, to be loved, and to be accepted in
meaningful and fulfilling relationships (Engler, 1985:473; Lerner, 1989:9; Moore,
Man has the potential to become “socially intelligent”. People can learn how to optimise
this dimension in their lives, and experience meaningful and fulfilling relationships
(Goleman, 1996:42, 148, 160; Johnson, 1990:2).
Man is a cultural being. People actualise their personal potential in community with
others and create communal and value-specific meaning in the cultures and sub-cultures
to which they belong (*Hirszowicz, 1998; Marx, 1974:146; Roseberry, 1997:35).
Man is an emotional being. People experience their world in a uniquely personal
manner (Goleman, 1996:xi-xii).
Man has the potential to become “emotionally intelligent”. People can learn how to
optimize this dimension in their lives, and have they potential for managing and
regulating their own and others’ emotions (Goleman, 1996:42-44; le Roux & de klerk,
Man is “response able”. People are proactive beings and have the potential to reflect
before they respond, and redirect themselves (Covey, 1989:91; *Herschock, 2000;
Man has the freedom to choose his response in life. People are not determined by
circumstances and need not be victims to the vicissitudes of life. Because people are
“response able”, they can make choices (Jordaan & Jordaan, 1989:33; Kruger, 1984:99).
Man has the potential to become “mentally intelligent”. People can learn how to optimize
this dimension in their lives, and make conscious, constructive choices to improve the
quality of their lives (*Ellis, 1962; Palmer, 2000:57-59; Smith, 2002:73).
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Man has the need to work and to leave a meaningful and value-adding legacy in life. As
a being who needs to “be someone” and express himself in a way that adds value to
others, man has the need to leave a legacy behind in his finance-work dimension
(Chasman, 2000:20; Roseberry, 1997:35; Steigerwald, 1979:104; Stevednson &
Hamalian, 1998, 141).
Man has the potential to become “professionally intelligent”. People can learn how to
optimise this dimension in their lives, and have meaningful, fulfilling and successful
careers (Covey, 1989:54).
In terms of the above-mentioned anthropological presuppositions, a last one is added:
Man is a needy being. People are characterised by certain physical and psychological
needs such as: survival needs, freedom of choice, responsibility, acceptance, self-worth
and competence as expressions of self-regard, punishment, equal-worth, a hierarchy in
life, freedom of speech, risk, private and collective ownership and obedience (Covey,
1989:49; Smith, 1988:2; Smith 2001:4).
2. LIMITATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF THIS ESSAY
It has already been pointed out that the possible sources are inexhaustible from which
interfaces with a PPL-anthropology are possible. Although certain commonalities are
found with the spiritual and religious perspectives, traditional philosophical perspectives
and contemporary 20th-21st century perspectives, much more depth and scope could be
explored in these, and other perspectives. For example, a closer investigation may be
done of the variations within each of these, and other, perspectives. In addition, it may
prove to be a fruitful exercise to attempt a classification of the anthropological
presuppositions by making use of the “Pyramid of Lesadership” (Personal Leadership,
Interpersonal Leadership, and, Professional Leadership). It may also be useful to
explore in more depth contemporary 20th-21st century perspectives on man, and
specially a post-modernist perspective. In all, the anthropological presuppositions of
PPL form part of the points of departure of PPL, and hence an analysis of these points of
departure and their implications for the PPL-practice may be explored in order to “fine-
tune” even more the presuppositions that are outlined in this essay.
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