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  • An Integrated Spiritual Leadership Model for the

    South African Public Service: A Case of

    Selected Government Departments

    Penelope Karen Law

    Thesis submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for a Doctoral Degree in the

    Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences at the University of

    Western Cape

    Supervisor: Professor Michelle Esau

    May 2013

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    Current leadership models have been unable to develop leaders who are

    capable of successfully addressing organisational challenges such as the

    unethical conduct, poor performance and low morale in the South African

    public service. Literature suggesting that spiritual leadership may improve

    organisational performance is emerging. The purpose of this study is to

    propose and present an Integrated Spiritual Leadership (ISL) model that is

    relevant to the South African public service and which can address

    burgeoning organisational challenges.

    In order to realise this research purpose, the study examined theoretical

    perspectives pertaining to spirituality, spiritual leadership and workplace

    spirituality. After leadership theories within the traditional and spiritual

    paradigms had been discussed and compared, spiritual leadership emerged

    as a comprehensive leadership theory. The literature on spiritual leadership

    also examines empirical evidence showing the way in which spiritual

    leadership may enhance organisational performance. The analysis of spiritual

    leadership models exposed a gap in the literature and highlighted the dearth

    of spiritual leadership research in the African and, especially, in the South

    African context.

    The development of the ISL model was based on a comparative analysis of

    the nine published leadership models of the following researchers and which

    are premised on spiritual leadership principles – Danah Zohar and Ian

    Marshall, Kevin Cashman, Stephen Covey, Gilbert Fairholm, The Memorial

    Hermann, Louis Fry, Jeffry Ferguson and John Milliman, Margaret Benefiel,

    and Sangeeta Parameshwar.

    The ISL model comprises three core levels, namely, the spiritual leadership,

    team and organisational levels. These levels are all interconnected and

    aligned. The spiritual leadership level is characterised by four key attributes,

    namely, higher purpose and vision, core positive values, application of

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    personal intelligences and changing from the inside out. In terms of the public

    service the three levels of the ISL model may influence individual, team and

    organisational outcomes by promoting the effective and efficient expenditure

    of public funds, improved service delivery and increased employee well-being.

    However, in view of the fact that the model was based on Western

    international models it was necessary to establish the relevance of the ISL

    model within the South African public service context. This study was situated

    in the national and provincial government departments in the South African

    public service. A qualitative, phenomenological study was conducted to

    ascertain the deep, richly textured perceptions regarding the relevance of the

    ISL model as regards the public service. In-depth interviews with 22

    respondents, including public service managers, service providers and

    students of spiritual leadership training, were conducted in order to garner

    their opinions about the ISL model. In addition, a quantitative survey was

    conducted to determine the extent to which the respondents perceived the ISL

    model’s constructs to be relevant for public service managers. The survey

    was completed by 233 public service managers from public service

    departments in both provincial and national government departments.

    Both the survey and the interview respondents perceive the ISL model to be

    relevant for public service managers. However, the findings are relevant for

    Gauteng public service departments only as the data collected were not

    sufficiently representative of all the provinces in South Africa. Many of the

    respondents were of the opinion that managers who embrace and model

    spiritual leadership principles such as higher purpose and core positive values

    are well equipped to overcome organisational challenges. However, although

    there was general agreement as regards the constructs of the ISL model,

    there was no conclusive agreement on the ranking of the personal

    intelligences.1 A lack of technical competence influenced the survey

    participants to prioritise IQ above the other intelligences, whilst the interview

    1 For the purposes of this study, mental intelligence (IQ), emotional intelligence (EQ), spiritual intelligence (SQ) and physical intelligence (PQ) are deemed to be personal intelligences.

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    respondents rated spiritual intelligence (SQ) as the highest form of


    The study recommends that a comprehensive approach is required if the ISL

    model is to be implemented successfully and in a sustainable way. It emerged

    that if senior managers were to endorse and promote the ISL model, this may

    result in the model being implemented more successfully. A specialised unit

    should continuously promote and monitor the realisation of the relevant

    department’s purpose and values. Relevant stakeholders should be involved

    to ensure widespread acceptance and endorsement, while the organisational

    strategy, systems, structure and culture should be aligned to the purpose,

    values and principles of the ISL model in order to promote organisational

    performance and employee well-being. In addition, service providers who

    develop the ISL model into a training and development intervention should

    foster deep learning so that public service leaders and managers fully

    embrace and internalise the principles of the ISL model.

    Finally, this study recommended future research. A follow-up study should be

    conducted to determine the relevance of this ISL model as regards all the

    provinces in the country as well as local government. In addition, a

    longitudinal study is recommended to determine the impact of the

    implementation of the ISL model on the South African public service.

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    I declare that this thesis in my own work. It is being submitted for the degree

    of Doctor of Philosophy in the Faculty of Economics and Management

    Sciences, School of Government, University of Western Cape.

    I further testify that this work has not been submitted for any other degree or

    at any other university or institution of higher learning.

    Signed: ……………………………………..

    May 2013

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    This completion of this thesis would have not been possible without the

    incredible support of so many people. I am intensely grateful to the following


    • Professor Michelle Esau, my supervisor, who provided guidance,

    support and insights.

    • The 233 survey and 12 interview respondents who participated in this

    study. I never realised how precious a completed survey is until this


    • Marko Saravanja for his unwavering support and encouragement,

    especially when it seemed as if this journey would never end.

    • Dhyan and Ananda Saravanja for remaining so patient and

    understanding throughout this journey.

    • To my family, friends and colleagues who provided advice, support,

    wisdom and encouragement.

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    I dedicate this thesis to my daughters, Dhyan and Ananda Saravanja.

  • viii


    COGTA Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs DARD Department of Agriculture and Rural Development DCS Department of Correctional Services DEA Department of Environmental Affairs DED Department of Economic Development DET Department of Environment and Tourism DHA Department of Home Affairs DJCD Department of Justice and Constitutional Development DLGH Department of Local Government and Housing DOA Department of Agriculture DOE Department of Education DOH Department of Health DOJ Department of Justice DOL Department of Labour DOT Department of Transport DPSA Department of Public Service Administration DPW Department of Public Works DRT Department of Roads and Transport DSD Department of Social Development DSL Department of Safety Security and Liaison DST Department of Science and Technology dti Department of Trade and Industry DWA Department of Water Affairs EQ Emotional intelligence IQ Mental intelligence ISL Integrated Spiritual Leadership NPA National Prosecuting Authority MEC PALAMA

    Member of Executive Council Public Administration Leadership and Management Academy

    PQ Physical intelligence SARS South African Revenue Service SQ Spiritual intelligence

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    ABSTRACT ...........................................................