Self-knowledge and leadership effectiveness in corporate South Africa

Ngouessy-Guibinga, Gabriel Landry
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This study explored leadership effectiveness and self-knowledge through a constructivist grounded theory paradigm. The research also looked at the journey of some attributes of leadership effectiveness from the leaders’ selves to their bodies according to the dualistic effect, and the impact this has on shaping the effective actions taken by those leaders towards others. It finally presented the impact of those effective actions on others, as well as the manner in which they respond to the effective actions taken by their leaders towards them. The study was guided by the following research objectives: (a) to assess the leaders’ understanding of the concepts of self-knowledge, self-body dualism and leadership effectiveness; (b) to assess the informants’ view on the relationship that could exist between self-knowledge and leadership effectiveness; and (c) to build a theory of leadership effectiveness based on the concept of self-knowledge. Twelve leaders took part in the research, and all the models that emerged from this study are grounded in their presentation of their experiences. The results of this study suggest that the leaders experienced the acquisition of self-knowledge as the journey of a lifetime through continuous spiritual, emotional, verbal and physical exchanges of the self and the body with the external universes these leaders had described through self-doubt, self-reflection, unlearning, challenges, experience and feedback from others. A broader understanding of the way in which the interviewed leaders perceived their individual processes of acquiring self-knowledge and the impact this could have on the shaping of their leadership styles, which would determine whether or not they would be effective leaders, is permitted through the study of the leaders’ quotidian life experiences, which were subsequently mapped in the context of their professional, personal and informal social worlds. The entire self-knowledge acquisition experience was reflected by the inclusion of their individual experiences and knowledge, their social world and the descriptions they gave of these. Lastly, if the journey of self-knowledge for leadership effectiveness is assessed only from the viewpoint of having failed in one’s leadership role, then the whole purpose of undertaking the journey is missed. Immersing oneself in the individual experiences of the interviewed leaders has practical inferences for academics and consultants in the field of self-knowledge-based leadership
A thesis submitted to the Wits Business School in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of PhD in Business Administration, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management Wits Business School, 2020
Self-knowledge, Leadership, Corporate South Africa, Self-body dualism and leadership effectiveness, UCTD