The challenge of leadership in the public sector has far reaching implications for the
entire society given its role in the regulation of the affairs of any society. The
complexities of the public sector decision making and operations as well as their
implications require good leadership. Therefore the identification of leadership potential
at all levels is crucial in order to design the interventions to develop the potential
further. Studies have shown that there is not a lot of research done in the area of
leadership potential identification especially in the public sector. This is also because,
until recently, there has been no widely accepted framework for identification of
leadership potential that is applicable at all levels.
A model of identifying leadership potential has recently been published and this model
has been applied in the identification of leadership potential in the Australian public
sector. This study aims to assess the leadership potential of the public sector
managers from an intentional change perspective. This was done through a
determination of the relationship between the three concepts of ideal self, leadership
potential as well as the current performance of managers in the public sector.
Furthermore, an assessment of the required organizational support to improve
awareness of ideal self by the employees and managers was done. 95 responses from
a variety of middle and senior managers in the Department of Environmental Affairs,
South Africa were collected and analysed. The analysis included Principle Component
Analysis and Correlations to assess the relationships between these three constructs.
Also 12 interviews with middle managers (level 11-12) across most departmental
functions were conducted and analysed.
The results indicated that there does not appear to be any statistically significant
relationship between performance scores and ideal self as well as performance scores
and leadership potential. They, however, indicated that there is a statistically significant
relationship between the ideal self and the leadership potential. Furthermore, the
results showed that to improve the awareness of the ideal self by the employees and
managers and thereby increase their leadership potential, the organization needs to
consider a few things. Those are, training and organizational culture; conversations
with managers; coaching and mentoring; clear succession planning and rotation;
opportunity or space to innovate.