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The effect of leadership styles on employee morale at Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife.

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Abstract Leadership is increasingly regarded as a cornerstone in management of organizations and viewed as a key driver of business success. It has been consistently acknowledged as the fundamental stream of human experience when viewed as a practise through which groups, organizations and people try to accomplish common goals. This study investigated the effects of leadership styles on employee morale at Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (EKZNW). Leaders in organizations create a vision which their subordinates need to accomplish. In addition, leadership is something that most subordinates need to accomplish. However, poor leadership has an influence on employee morale. Generally, it is a known truth that employee morale plays a critical role in the performance and productivity of an organization. Productivity is related to employee morale, hence happy employees have high morale whereas the opposite is true with disgruntled employees. High morale means that staff are satisfied with their duties and put more effort into the accomplishment of the organizational gaols. Employee morale does affect performance of duties, and consequently it is critical to ensure that measures are put in place to increase employee morale. This study focused on assessing and understanding the experience of employee morale at Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife. The EKZNW is a state owned entity in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of leadership styles on employee morale at Ezemvelo. The objectives were, to determine if the leadership style implemented by EKZNW influences employee morale; to evaluate what determines leadership style at Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife; and to ascertain how the employees at KZN Wildlife perceive the leadership style of the organization. The research was exploratory in nature. A quantitative research approach was used to identify how employees perceive the leadership style of the organization. The total population of the study consisted of all permanent 2360 employees, target population of 390 and the sample size of 120 employees. A purposive sampling method was undertaken to acquire response from the respondents. The primary data collection instrument was the questionnaire, which were self-completed, managed through a drop and pick method to the offices of the selected individuals. Data analysis was undertaken using the Statistical Package for Social sciences (SPSS) version 25. This study discovered that the leadership style has a reasonable significance influence on employee morale and democratic leadership style encourages employees to perform to the optimal. The respondents perceived that leadership style undertaken by the organization was autocratic. Consequently, the employee morale was perceived very low and had impacted negatively on certain aspects of the operations and the overall working environment. The study recommends that Ezemvelo leadership should properly engage employees to develop mechanisms to improve morale and subsequently improve performance. Keywords: Employee morale, High performance team, Leadership, Learning organization, Leadership styles


Master’s Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.