Holistic Leadership Development and Its Components

Maserumule and Gutto (2008) argued that leadership, like good governance, is a value-laden concept that is characteristically nebulous—it can mean different things to different people, depending on the context in which it is used. Furthermore, their study showed that much of the accumulated body of general African scholarship as well as scholarship on Africa's development has not sufficiently contextualized discourse on good governance and leadership in Africa. African leadership scholars such as Kinoti and Kimuyu (1997), Adadevoh (2006) and Mbigi (2000) advocated a contextual holistic leadership development model which was also posited by Ruch (2010) to increase opportunities for consistency in quality, maximize the available resources and attract senior-level support—all critical considerations in Africa, a developing continent (Adjibolosoo, 1995). This necessitated looking beyond Kouzes and Posner’s (1987) five practices of exemplary leadership, Kouzes and Posner’s (2006) practices of legacy-building leaders and McCuiston’s (2007) Holistic Leader (not Leadership) Development framework. Further, Gitsham and Downing (2011) as well as McCauley and van Velsor (2004) called for a critical interrogation of different approaches for the development of innovative yet sustainable leadership development.

Avolio (2005) posited that leadership development was a complex human process that involved leaders, followers, dynamic contexts, timing, resources, technology, history, luck and other things not yet discovered. Barr and Barr (1994) argued that effective leaders (in the long haul) need both maturity (that comes from growth, challenge and struggle) and power bases (personal, positional, organizational and political). This calls for new perspectives, mindsets and skills based on research (Rhinesmith, 2009). Further, Keung’s (2011) study showed that cultural intelligence significantly predicted transformational leadership and all five Kouzes and Posner’s (1987) practices. Cultural intelligence, therefore, should be an important consideration in the selection, training and professional development of leaders. Therefore, holistic leadership development design should take into account the work context (Scribner, 1999), be premised on good theoretical foundations (Avolio, 2007; Day et al., 2009), reflect cultural realities (Dorfman et al., 1997; Hofstede, 1980; James, 2008), acknowledge embedded tacit knowledge (Kamoche & Harvey, 2006; Wilber, 2006) and be based on empirical research (Klein & Ziegert, 2004; Ramos, 2009) for the development of its content (Day & O’Connor, 2003).

Though most of Africa’s traditional LD was informal or non-formal (Adadevoh, 2007), it was laden with important ingredients which are largely missing in today’s LD (Haruna, 2009). Concurring, Winston and Ryan (2008) had concluded that servant leadership (SL) was appropriate in various global cultures and recommended that SL should be included in leadership development programmes in Africa, Asia and the Mediterranean as a means of producing humane leaders.

James (2008) argued that leadership development was a high priority for African organizations, but that we knew very little about what causes leaders in Africa to change their behaviour and how. Most leadership development programmes use imported Western models that at best paid only lip-service to the very different cultural and other contexts in Africa. Research conducted in Malawi, Uganda and Kenya found that changes in leadership style, although individual and complex, followed an underlying pattern. External events only catalyzed an inside-out change process. Effective leadership development therefore requires in-depth understanding and application of local contextual and cultural issues. Further, James argued that the process of leadership development was tied to deeper, universal principles of human behaviour. It was these leads that in part prompted this research project.

Ramos (2009) argued that the effectiveness of leadership development could be enhanced if we “focus more on the interior processes of adult development, identity development and self-regulation and less on the exterior level of observable competencies” (p. xiii). Wheatley (2001) referred to this as integral leadership, emphasizing the need for relationships in an interconnected world. Further, Ramos posited that the development of contextually relevant competencies required appropriate methodologies. A key human factor in Africa’s development (Adjibolosoo, 1995) has been identified as the gradual breakdown of Africa’s relational and collective culture (Beugre & Offodile, 2001) leading to a decline in ethics and values (Okumo, 2002) which has contributed significantly to the challenges plaguing the continent (Gichure, 2006; Hellsten & Larbi, 2006; Schwenke, 2010). This decline in morality has also been influenced by Western liberal education (Ntibagirirwa, 2001). In contemporary Western nations, the material and the spiritual have been split from one another, leading to a cry for workplace virtues such as teamwork, responsibility and accountability. Fuelled by fierce competition, lack of virtues leads to corrupt practices (Briskin, 1998).

Presently, most leadership development programmes in Africa are sourced from Western business schools (Harvey & Kamoche, 2004; Van der Westhuizen, 2005) but administered by local universities, especially short courses and executive MBAs which have grown significantly in popularity (G. Ng’ang’a, 2010; Okwemba, 2011). However, Horwtiz (1996) argued that effective leadership development should be regarded as a process and not an event, while Haruna (2009) argued that “focusing on an individual leader alone does not reflect leadership as practiced in African communities”. Concurring, Carroll and Levy (2010) summarized leadership development as a site, a discourse, and a series of practices especially in fluid, dynamic or plural contexts (Friedman, 2008; Hamel, 2002). Further, foreign programmes (Kamoche, 1997) have had little focus on character or holistic development (Adadevoh, 2006; Ruch, 2010)—except some in theological training institutions (Naidoo, 2011)—and have not been contextually relevant (Haruna, 2009), limiting their effectiveness (Kamoche, 1997; Mbigi, 2000) and retrogressing nations (Landell-Mills, 1992; Walumbwa et al., 2011). Similarly, Boateng (2007) observed that (a) Africa’s educational institutions produced individuals with degrees but who are lacking in the competencies required for Africa’s future leaders and (b) many Western- trained leaders struggled to apply their learning in the African context (James, 2008). Middlehurst (2008) posited that leadership learning was the key to narrowing the gap between the current high levels of leadership theory and low levels of practice—a gap that led to a global deficit of effective leaders in all fields and at all levels of responsibility (Adair, 2011). Contrastingly, Agulanna (2006) posited that there were many Africans with moral values and intellectual capabilities of leadership who could be developed. Effective holistic leadership development, therefore, should focus on internal processes (Ramos, 2009) such as value and attitude change, especially in developing nations (Blunt, 1990), and should also value, utilize and develop spirituality (Adadevoh, 2006; Bevan-Brown, 2005; Mbigi, 2000).

 
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