As part of the effort to redress some of the imbalances of apartheid, Black top managers
have emerged in many organisations including South African SOEs. The leadership
styles that they predominantly display in the quest to discharge their responsibilities
however remain unexplored and this, arguably, aids the scepticism in some quarters
surrounding the nature of leadership provided by these black executives. This increases
the need for the investigation of the leadership styles of black top managers.
This quantitative study utilised a survey research method and non-probability
sampling to obtain primary data from 232 SOE employees in a cross-sectional
manner. Though the research instrument was an established multifactor leadership
scale, it was assessed with factor analysis, model-fit statistics and Harman’s test.
Consequently, descriptive statistical measures were utilised to summarise the data.
Results show that the component factors of the transformational leadership style
were indistinguishable by the respondents but nonetheless, this style of leadership was perceived as the most displayed by black top managers. Satisfactory discriminant
validity was evident for the factors in the transactional leadership construct
where the contingent reward approach was displayed more in comparison to
Management-by-Exception while the laissez-faire leadership style was viewed as
the least displayed style by black top managers in SOES.
The findings imply that black top manager’s predominant display of the transformational
is reflective of the South African ‘Ubuntu’ philosophy.