Leadership placement in organisations : a Drathian perspective

Burman, Richard Westley (2013-12)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2013.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: One school of thought on leadership propounds the idea that the individual leader is the source of leadership through personal dominance and intellectual influence. However, organisations are operating in an ever-changing environment and leaders face increasingly complex challenges. Drath proposes that there should be a rethinking of leadership and suggests that broader social meaning-making processes of accomplishing leadership tasks are required, and that good leaders are the end product of good processes of leadership. This research is an assessment of the leadership criteria used by an Executive Placement Company in the selection of senior leaders in organisations, and whether Drath’s theory on organisational leadership, or something approaching this, is present in practice. Following from that, Drath’s theory is evaluated as an alternative means of approaching current leadership issues. The study will attempt to give a better understanding of the criteria that could be applied in placing leaders in organisations, in order to meet the complex challenges faced by leaders in organisations. A qualitative research method with limited triangulation was used. This involved a case study of an Executive Placement Company in Johannesburg. Data collection was in the form of semistructured interviews and the completion of a questionnaire by the five senior employees of the Executive Placement Company involved in the placement of senior leaders. The questionnaire contained open and closed ended questions. A quantitative method was applied as questionnaires were completed by five employees, as well as a qualitative method, which involved conducting semi-structured interviews with five employees. However, as a limited number of questionnaires were used, the research is predominantly qualitative research. The criteria used by the Executive Placement Company, as well as changes in organisational leadership criteria and organisational leadership factors, were identified. Key criteria include the culture, management style and dynamics of the organisations in which the leaders are to be placed. The personal attributes of the leader, such as experience, technical skills and, in particular, behavioural competencies are also important. It is suggested that there have been changes in the criteria used for placement, with organisations appearing to prefer more empowering, participating, engaged, connected and relationship focused leaders. There also seems to be a move away from an autocratic style of leadership towards one that is more holistic and integrated. Various elements of Drath’s theory are present in practice and it is thus suggested that this theory provides an alternative perspective with which to approach leadership issues. The value of the present research is that it gives an indication of actual leadership processes and the criteria that are and should be applied in the placement of leaders in organisations. This research also indicates that difficulties exist in leadership processes due to the application of affirmative action policies in the placement of leaders in organisations. Further research is required in regard to the effect of affirmative action policies in the placement of leaders in organisations.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: ‘n Belangrike en invloedryke skool van denke oor leierskap voer aan dat die individuele leier, deur persoonlike dominansie en intellektuele invloed, die bron van leierskap is. Organisasies bevind hulself egter in omgewings wat voortdurend aan die verander is en hierdeur staar leiers toenemend komplekse uitdagings in die gesig. Gevolglik voer Drath aan dat leierskap herdink moet word en stel voor dat breër sosiale betekenisprosesse, wat ten doel het om leierskapstake te vorm, benodig word en dat goeie leiers dus die eindprodukte van goeie leierskapsprosesse is. Hierdie navorsing behels eerstens ’n assessering van leierskapskriteria, soos aangewend deur die Executive Placement Company in die seleksie van seniorleiers in organisasies en daarmee saam die vraag of Drath se teorie oor organisatoriese leierskap (of iets soortgelyk aan sy teorie) in praktyk voorkom. Tweedens, ondersoek dit die vraag of Drath se teorie ’n alternatiewe manier bied om huidige leierskapskwessies te benader. Dié studie het ten doel om ’n beter verstandhouding daar te stel van die kriteria wat gebruik kan word om leiers in organisasies te plaas ten einde die komplekse uitdagings, wat deur leiers in organisasies ervaar word, die hoof te bied. ’n Kwalitatiewe navorsingsmetode met beperkte triangulering is gebruik. Dit sluit in ’n gevallestudie op ’n Executive Placement Company in Johannesburg. Dataversameling het die vorm aangeneem van semi-gestruktureerde onderhoude en die voltooiing van ’n vraelys deur vyf senior werknemers van die Executive Placement Company, betrokke by die plasing van senior leiers. Die vraelys bevat beide oop- en geslote vrae. Kwantitatiewe- (in die vorm van vraelyste voltooi) en kwalitatiewe metodes (in die vorm van semi-gestruktureerde onderhoude gevoer) is gebruik. Aangesien slegs ’n beperkte getal vraelyste gebruik kon word, is die navorsing hoofsaaklik kwalitatief van aard. Kriteria deur die Executive Placement Company gebruik, sowel as veranderinge in organisatoriese leierskapskriteria en –leierskapsfaktore, is geïdentifiseer. Sleutelkriteria sluit in die kultuur, bestuurstyl en dinamika van die organisasie waar leiers geplaas word. Die persoonlike eienskappe van die leier, soos ervaring, tegniese vaardighede en veral gedragsbevoegdhede, is ook as belangrik geag. Daar word voorgestel dat daar veranderinge aangebring word ten opsige van die kriteria gebruik vir plasing; organisasies toon ’n voorkeur vir leiers wat meer gefokus is op bemagtiging, deelneming, betrokkenheid, verbondenheid en verhoudings. Dit wil verder voorkom of daar wegbeweeg word van ’n outokratiese styl van leierskap na een wat meer holisties en geïntegreerd is. Verskeie elemente van Drath se teorie is teenwoordig en daarom word daar voorgestel dat hierdie teorie ’n alternatiewe perspektief bied om leierskapskwessies te benader. Die waarde van die navorsing lê daarin dat dit ’n indikasie gee van die werklike leierskapprosesse wat gebruik word. Die navorsing dui verder daarop dat daar probleme bestaan in leierskapsprosesse, teweeggebring deur die toepassing van regstellende aksie beleid in die plasing van leiers in organisasies. Toekomstige navorsing word benodig om die invloed van regstellende aksie op leierskaps prosesse in organisasies te bepaal.

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