An Integrated Spiritual Leadership Model for the South African Public Service: A Case of Selected Government Departments
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 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 intelligence. 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.