International Journal of Applied Philosophy

Volume 36, Issue 2, Fall 2022

Freya Möbus
Pages 263-281

Socratic Leadership

What makes a good leader? This paper takes Socrates in Plato’s early dialogues as the starting point for developing three leadership skills that are still relevant today: being on a mission, thinking in questions, and thinking like a beginner. I arrive at these Socratic leadership skills through an interdisciplinary approach to Plato’s early dialogues that puts Socrates in conversation with a diversity of thinkers: modern-day business leaders and leadership coaches, educators, Zen Buddhists, and art historians. I show that Socratic leadership skills are valued in today’s business world, and I propose concrete exercises that can help anyone acquire these skills. In contrast to Platonic leadership—the leadership skills of the philosopher king—Socratic leadership skills have not been the focus of much investigation. This paper aims to advance a scholarly conversation about Socrates as a leadership model.