Critical leader behaviour in the emerging South African economy

Rossouw, Gedeon Josua (2014-12)

Thesis (MCom)–Stellenbosch University, 2014.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Leadership is, without a doubt, one of the most valuable commodities in business. It is no secret that organisations depend greatly on leaders for their success, and that the effectiveness of the organisation is related to the effectiveness of its leaders. Organisations worldwide are continuously searching for the finest leaders to organise and lead their organisation to optimal performance. However, leadership is much more complex than initially meets the eye. A great many researchers have conducted decades of research on the topic and have not yielded irrefutable evidence on leadership. Although research has succeeded in defining different types of leadership and leader influencing, and power tactics, the characteristics, behaviour and situational factors of effective leadership are still under contention. The phenomenal complexity and elusive character of the leadership construct should be considered as a problem whose resolution would greatly enrich our knowledge. For social and organisational psychologists, understanding leadership, its behaviours and processes, forms a fundamental, if not chief element of group and organisational processes. These processes can arguably lead to group, and thus organisational effectiveness. In this study, leadership is explored from the basis of social learning theory and focused specifically on South Africa’s emerging economy. Bandura, the founder of social learning theory, advocates that people learn their behaviour by observing those who are superior and desirable to them, and then imitate their behaviour. According to this theory, leaders have a very direct effect on the behaviour of their subordinates, which enables them to mould employee behaviour by being a good role model. In addition, literature on leadership has corroborated that role modelling is one of the most effective influencers on employee behaviour. This study attempts to uncover which leadership behaviours is conducive to organisational effectiveness. This information can be useful to all other potential or current leaders in the South African economy, and the insights gained from the study can be used as a valuable framework from which they can lead their organisations through their own behaviour. The objective of this research project is thus to come to a deeper understanding of what the critical leadership behaviour in the emerging South African economy looks like. Through acknowledging the complexity of human behaviour and the leadership construct we want to comprehend what behaviour it is that makes leaders successful. Individual, in-depth interviews with a number of South Africa’s most successful business leaders is seemingly the best method of uncovering what these ‘effective leader behaviours’ are. These interviews create an understanding of how successful leaders view leadership and what behaviour they (as the experts on leadership behaviour) deem important. The repertory grid interview technique is utilised in this qualitative study, to uncover how these leaders perceive leadership. This is an attempt at coming closer to understanding what the cunning logic of nature’s design looks like, in terms of effective leader behaviour. This study focuses on South Africa in the current emerging economy, and aims at providing insights into the specific leader behaviour that is conducive to organisational effectiveness. These insights can be used as a starting point from which leaders can cultivate their own behaviour to mould a desired organisational culture, and reach organisational objectives.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Leierskap is ongetwyfeld een van die sakewêreld se waardevolste kommoditeite. Dit is algemene kennis dat organisasies baie afhanklik van goeie leierskap vir organisatoriese sukses is. Daar kan ongetwyfeld aangevoer word dat die effektiwiteit van organisasies direk aan die effektiwiteit van sy leiers gekoppel is. Organisasies wêreldwyd is voortdurend op soek na die beste leiers om hul besighede te organiseer, te inspireer en tot optimale prestasie te lei. Leierskap is egter baie meer kompleks as wat dit aanvanklik voorkom. Dekades se navorsing oor leierskap kon tot op hede nog nie onweerlegbare bewyse rakende leierskap lewer nie. Alhoewel navorsing al der duisende verskillende definisies van leierskap, leierskapstipes, beïnvloedingstaktieke en magstaktieke opgelewer het, kon navorsing oor leierskap nog nie daarin slaag om definitiewe leierskapsgedrag, leiereienskappe of situasionele faktore wat aan effektiewe leierskap gekoppel is, te bepaal nie. Die enorme kompleksiteit en ontwykende aard van die leierskapskonstruk behoort vir die besigheidswêreld ‘n probleem te wees waarvan die oplossing baie waardevol sal wees. Bedryfsielkundiges sal veral baie baat vind by die volledige begrip van leierskap en die gedrag en prosesse wat daarmee gepaard gaan, aangesien leierskapsgedrag as ‘n fundamentele, indien nie ‘n kerndeel van groep- en organisatoriese prossesse se sukses, gesien kan word. Deur leierskap beter te verstaan sal organisasies in ‘n beter posisie wees om groep- en organisatoriese effektiwiteit te verbeter. In die studie onder oë is leierskap ondersoek vanuit die raamwerk van sosiale leerteorie soos geproklameer deur Albert Bandura, met ‘n spesifieke fokus op die huidige en ontluikende Suid-Afrikaanse ekonomie. Bandura voer aan dat as mense, leer ons gedrag aan deur na ander in hoër en geloofwaardige posisies te kyk, en dan hulle gedrag na te boots. Leiers, volgens hierdie teorie, het ‘n baie direkte en wesenlike invloed op hulle volgelinge, en kan daarom werknemergedrag vorm en beïnvloed deur hulle eie gedrag, deur ‘n goeie rolmodel te wees. Hierbenewens bestaan daar ook ‘n magdom literatuur oor leierskap wat aanvoer dat rolmodellering een van die mees effektiewe beïnvloeders van werknemergedrag is. Hierdie studie het gepoog om spesieke leiergedrag wat gunstig vir organisatoriese effektiwiteit is, te verken. Hierdie kennis kan baie nuttig wees vir enige huidige of potensiële sakeleier in Suid-Afrika, aangesien dit hulle sal voorsien van ‘n waardevolle raamwerk waarvolgens hulle, hul werkspanne en organisasies kan lei deur aandag aan hulle eie gedrag te skenk. Die doelstelling van hierdie studie is dus om ‘n dieper begrip van kritieke leierskapsgedrag in ons ontluikende Suid-Afrikaanse ekonomie, te bekom. Deur die kompleksiteit van menslike gedrag en leierskapsgedrag te aanvaar en te waardeer, het die studie probeer verstaan watter gedrag leiers suksesvol maak. Deur individuele in-diepte onderhoude met 12 van Suid-Afrika se mees suksesvolle en bekende leiers te voer, blyk die beste manier te wees om te verstaan wat presies dit is wat hierdie leiers, en ander soortgelyke leiers suksesvol maak. Deur beter te verstaan hoe hierdie suksesvolle leiers leierskap sien, en watter gedrag hulle as bevorderlik beskou, kan ons hopelik nader aan die waarheid kom oor watter gedrag tot organisatoriese effektiwiteit bydra. In hierdie kwalitatiewe studie is daar van die repertoirerooster tegniek (‘repertory grid technique’) gebruik gemaak om agter te kom hoe hierdie leiers leierskap beskou in ‘n poging om nader aan ‘n volle begrip van die ingewikkelde logika van die natuur se ontwerp in terme van leierskapsgedrag te kom. Die studie het gefokus op Suid-Afrika se ontluikende ekonomie, en het gepoog om waardevolle insig te lewer rakende watter leiersgedrag tot organisatoriese effektiwiteit kan bydra. Hierdie insig kan dan gebruik word as ‘n beginpunt en verwysingsraamwerk waarvandaan leiers hulle eie gedrag kan vorm en ontwikkel ten einde ‘n gewensde organisasiekultuur te kweek waarin alle werkemers gunstige en gewensde gedrag kan toon ten einde organisasiedoeltwitte te bereik.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/95827
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