an integrated spiritual leadership model for the south ... an integrated spiritual leadership model
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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
Supervisor: Professor Michelle Esau
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
I dedicate this thesis to my daughters, Dhyan and Ananda Saravanja.
ACRONYMS AND ABBREVIATIONS
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
TABLE OF CONTENTS