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Mirror, mirror: preferred leadership characteristics of South African managers

  • Gregory John Lee
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    Purpose – This paper aims to investigate desired leadership characteristics of South African managers, and link differences in desired traits to contextually crucial demographic group differences and managerial advancement. Design/methodology/approach – South African managers (n=205) ranked ten items of the characteristics of admired leadership scale. Aggregate rank analysis and nonparametric ANOVAs reveal significant preference differences in the sample and demographic sub-groups. The research compares traits across managerial advancement and age, providing an implicit success test. Findings – Managers most highly ranked the three “credibility” characteristics (competence, honesty and inspiration) prevalent in comparative worldwide studies. Key differences exist between managers and employees, many contextually crucial demographic sub-groups, and higher and lower-level managers of younger and older ages. Practical implications – This research provides potentially important information for leadership identification, selection and development, in that it may identify characteristics that current leaders associate with contextual success. The research also identifies discrepancies between employees and managers and demographic groups, which may be sources of dissatisfaction or misunderstanding, and which organizations should address to better align expectations of subordinates and actions of leaders. Individuals might also use the information in self-development, comparing their own views to successful leaders. Originality/value – Significant informational and statistical advantages exist over prior studies. This research provides individual-level analyses, and an explicit test of association with objective success that previous studies have not provided. It includes top management, whereas prior studies have limited samples to subordinates or middle managers. Greater demographic differentiation is provided, allowing for more contextually relevant understanding.

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    Article provided by Emerald Group Publishing in its journal International Journal of Manpower.

    Volume (Year): 32 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 2 (May)
    Pages: 211-232

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    Handle: RePEc:eme:ijmpps:v:32:y:2011:i:2:p:211-232
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    1. Melinda Vaughn & Lori Verstegen Ryan, 2006. "Corporate Governance in South Africa: a bellwether for the continent?," Corporate Governance: An International Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 14(5), pages 504-512, 09.
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