Leadership in the African Context

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Last updated: February 19, 2019

Chapter one – Effective business leadership for South Africa in 2010 and beyond Page 6 IV. Is there effective leadership in South Africa today? Page 7 V.

Challenges facing South African Leadership todayPage 8 VI. A call for ethical leadershipPage 9 VII. On the other hand: Business leadershipPage 10 VIII. Could early leadership development of future leaders be the solution for effective Page 11 eadership in South Africa beyond 2011? IX.

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ConclusionPage 12 X. ReferencesPage 13 OVERVIEW Introduction to the “Chapter of the book” What is leadership? The study on leadership defines it as the process of influencing, motivating, supporting, facilitating, and encouraging employees in pursuit of organisational goals through the means put together by all members of the business. (Drouillard & Grobler, Kleiner, 1996, p.

31) To unpack the definition a bit further, leadership can be defined as a method of giving eaning to the activities people perform, support them and provide guidance and direction. It is a process of articulating an idea that entails the right values and attitudes. Some people view leadership as sequence of specific traits or characteristics.

Others perceive it as comprised of certain skills and knowledge. Research on leadership has evolved as theories have been developed and advanced by successive generations of researchers. Something constructive has been learned at each stage of development.See figure below the significant milestones in the evolution of leadership theories: 1990’s Behavioural Styles theory Transformational Theory 1970’s 1980’s 1960’s 1950’s Situational Theory Trait Theory Figure 1: Evolution of leadership Theories The original approaches to the study of leadership required to identify a set of traits that distinguished leaders from non leaders.

The research focused on what the personality characteristics, physical and psychological attributes of people who are viewed as leaders were.By 1940, researchers concluded that the search for leadership-defining traits was ineffective. In recent years, though, after advances in personality literature such as the development of the Big Five personality framework (see table below), researchers have had more success in identifying traits that predict leadership. Figure 2: The most widely accepted Big Five personality Model Most importantly, charismatic leadership which is amongst the modern-day approaches to leadership may be viewed as an example of trait approach.Other trait theories associated to a person’s emerging as a leader within a group, include the general mental ability, which psychologists refer to as “G” and which is often called I. Q. in everyday language.

In particular, people who have high mental abilities are more likely to be viewed as leaders in their surroundings. In my opinion though intellect is a positive but modest predictor of leadership. Additional to high IQ, efficient leaders tend to have high emotional intelligence (EQ).Individuals with high EQ demonstrate a high level of self-awareness, inspiration, compassion and social skills. Personally I do not think this particular trait theory is applied or has ever been applied when choosing or appointing many of our South African leaders.

One would argue that intellect when appointing these leaders is the bottom item on the agenda if not absent. What differentiates effective leaders from ineffective ones is their ability to control their own emotions and empathize with other people’s emotions, their internal inspiration, and social skills. Daniel Goldman) During the course of World War II, the study of leadership took on a major new twist. Rather than focusing on the personal qualities of successful leaders, researchers turned their concentration to patterns of leader behaviour (referred to as leadership styles). Individual research of leader behaviour established that followers overwhelmingly preferred managers who had a self-governing style to those with an authoritarian style or a laissez-faire (untroubled) style.The simplified review of these three classic leadership styles is illustrated in the table below: | Authoritarian| Democratic| Laissez-Faire| NATURE| * Leader retains all authority and responsibility * Leader assigns people to clearly defined tasks * Primarily a downward flow of communication| * Leader delegates a great deal of authority while retaining ultimate responsibility * Work is divided and assigned on the basis of the basis of participatory decision making * Active two-way flow f upward and downward communication| * Leader grants responsibility and authority to group * Group members are told to work things out themselves and do the best they can * Primarily horizontal communication among peers | PRIMARY STRENGTH| Stresses prompt, orderly, and predictable performance | Enhances personal commitment through participation| Permits self-starters to do things as they see fit without leader interference| PRIMARY WEAKNESSES| Approach tends to stifle individual initiative| Democratic process is time consuming| Group may drift aimlessly in the absence of direction from leader| Figure 3: Three Classic leadership styles A consistent pattern has emerged from the many studies of effective leadership carried out by Fiedler and others.

Task-motivated leaders seem to be effective in extreme situations when they have either very little control or great deal of control over situational variables. See illustration of Fiedler’s Contingency Theory of leadership below: Highly favourable Moderately favourable Highly unfavourable Nature of the situationRelationship-motivated leaders perform better when the situation is moderately favourable Task-motivated leaders perform better when the situation is highly unfavourable Task-motivated leaders perform better when the situation is highly favourable * Group members and leader enjoy working together. * Group members work on clearly defined tasks.

* Leader has formal authority to control promotions and other rewards Rationale: Working from a base of mutual trust and relative certainty among followers about task and rewards, * A combination of favourable and unfavourable factors Rationale: Followers need support from leader to help them cope with uncertainties about trust. * Group members do not enjoy working together * Group members work on vaguely defined tasks Leader lacks formal authority to control promotions and other rewards Rationale: In the face of shared mistrust and high uncertainty among followers about task and rewards, leader needs to dedicate primary attention to close supervision. Figure 4: Fiedler’s Contingency Theory of Leadership James McGregor Burns drew a distinction in his book between transactional and transformative leadership. He characterised transformational leaders as visionaries who challenge people to achieve exceptionally high levels of morality, motivation and performance. According to Burns, transactional leaders monitor people so that they do the expected, according to plan.

In contrast transformational leaders inspire people to do the unexpected over and above the plan. The distinction between transactional and transformational leaders is illustrated in the table below: Transactional Leader| Transformational Leader| Contingent reward | Charisma | Management by exception (active)| Inspiration| Management by exception (passive)| Intellectual stimulation| Laissez-faire (hands off)| Individualised consideration| The study on leadership will continue to evolve in today’s changing business context. As a result of global, political and social changes, in particular transformation and stringent corporate governance requirements: new approach to study leadership is definitely required.I strongly believe that the development of theoretical leadership concept to understand the emerging new economy leadership in post-apartheid South Africa is vital. Please see figure below illustrating some of the leadership attributes that most of our South African current and future leaders should actually embody.

CHAPTER ONE Effective business leadership for South Africa in 2010 and beyond. ”Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes. ” – Peter Drucker Is there effective leadership in South Africa today? I’ll tell you one thing, the current picture of leadership in this country suggests the lack of effective leadership as the major critical challenge that we are facing right now.South Africa has had a generally “unpleasant experience” with leadership in the past but the funniest thing is even post apartheid we are categorized as underdeveloped because of failed leadership. Current leaders, scholars and communities alike agree that ineffective leadership has failed the people of South Africa. In fact African leadership as a whole has been associated with corruption, dictatorship, greed and ineffectiveness. Another major challenge we’re facing is the leadership development programmes adopted from generic western models that are unable to fully take into account South African cultural complexities.

Scholars such as Professor Lovemore Mbigi have made the link between context and leadership.He argues that “the ultimate task of leadership in African organizations and communities is to develop intelligent cultural strategies rooted in African cultural belief systems and thought, so as to ensure sustainable development and transformation”. (Mbigi: 2005:5) A further study on African leadership suggested that many lessons of leadership excellence can be drawn from past African traditional systems and leadership approaches. Using the case study of King Shaka (Ngambi 2004).

King Shaka displayed, among others the following leadership qualities: * Clear sense of vision and mission * Ability to create a common sense identity * Leadership from the front * Ability to challenge the status quo * Risk taker, and * Value the role of women in governance. (Ngambi 2004:116) Challenges facing South African leadership today, “hopefully” not beyond 2011One thing is for certain one cannot talk about effective leadership or lack thereof and not mention the South African government. Post – apartheid era, the South African constitution created a platform for an accountable, democratic government characterised by transparency, political stability and transformation. The constitution is actually guiding our leaders to pursue the general interest of the South African people, in fact the provision of the constitution highlights the need for transformed public service and good corporate governance. It is evident then that poverty, unemployment, crime, skills and development, education and corruption in this country are no accidents at all.

One would even argue that even post-apartheid South Africa, greed, corruption and ineffective leadership is a contributing factor to some of these socio-economic issues. The huge challenge is, these so called democratically elected leaders do not listen to the very same people who put them there in the first place. My question is who are these leaders? Shouldn’t they be guardians of our society? How can they continue to enrich themselves when most South Africans are dying of HIV/AIDS and the gap between the poor and the rich is widening every day? Most of these leaders should exercise their power in the interest of all fellow South Africans, maintain a high standard of professional ethics and uphold good corporate governance.A Call for ethical Leadership We seem to think that questions about values and ethics should be imposed only by religious leaders, priests or those who consider themselves “holier than thou” In fact questions about ethics and values when it comes to our leaders should concern us all.

Not so long ago we’ve been “entertained” by the media about our current president Mr. Jacob Zuma’s rather “interesting” lifestyle. One can’t help but to wonder about the effectiveness of leadership in South Africa today. Leadership as James McGregor suggests it is a process of morality to the degree that leaders engage with followers on the basis of motives, values and goals.In fact integrity entails an internalised set of values and principles that function That a leader should live by and direct all his actions and decisions.

On the other hand, business leaders in South Africa still after 17 years of democracy, are faced with a number of challenges like globalisation, black economic empowerment, cultural diversity, transformation that require them to adopt a completely different set of leadership competencies and skills. Madi (1995) in fact highlights the urgent need of such leadership competencies by arguing that, action and behaviour of the South African Corporate world and culture reflected somewhere between that of Europe and the USA and not that of Africa.Luthans, Van Wyk, & Walumbwa (2004) points out that, South Africa is a good example of where organizational leaders are on the middle between threat and opportunity and between hope and fear. These leaders have to deal with the post-apartheid organizational culture and business dynamics such as diversity and poverty. These leaders are in fact forced by legislation to adopt and focus on some of these socio economic factors in the workplace.

It’s amazing how the number of these regulatory requirements have increased over the years. They carry heavy fines and penalties should organizations fail to comply. Could early leadership development of future leaders be the solution for effective leadership in South Africa beyond 2011?Most South African organizations have developed leadership programmes to nurture and build young leaders for the future. In fact most of them have adopted some of the leadership theories like Transformational model as a foundation of such development. The interesting part of these leadership development programmes, they incorporate community service in order to promote active citizenship. These young leaders are motivated and taught not to only talk about “change” but to understand it has to start in the mind and it has to be by love and understanding the needs of the South African people.

I strongly believe that leadership and good governance can be learnt.In African cultures learning was primarily through interaction. Because of the world’s pressing leader shortage, and these paradigm-shift dynamics, there is a definite need to continue supporting and nurturing of these future leaders. They have to be motivated and taught that, they have to be endowed with the attributes of courage and self confidence, combined with tolerance, honesty and humility. Future leader programme in the workplace would harness the “youth leadership power” to meet the emerging business challenges. Lesmeister (1996) found that role models were important to leadership development (her study focused on female leaders in higher education).Other factors that Lesmeister found to be important in leadership development included mentors, early family environment, participation in challenging experiences throughout life, and opportunities and experiences for learning leadership.

Mentoring has also been proven to be important for the leadership success of both men and women. Edson (1988) and Irwin (1995) pointed that mentors appeared to be twice as vital to the success of women, whether in business or educational settings. CONCLUSION The changes within, the global physical, social, economic and political environment create the need to continuously reconstruct the original definitions and viewpoints about leadership.

Most of our South African leaders have to understand that Character is essentially what is expected of a leader, and it cannot be bought. It has to be cultivated in the private and tested in the public. Until our leaders fully understand what being “democratically elected” means, the poor who put them there by way of exercising their so called democratic vote will continue to suffer. What happened to the spirit of “Ubuntu”? in which most of these so called African leaders claim to understand and familiar with.


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