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A leadership framework for organisational sustainability in the banking sector.

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This study was undertaken to examine the key challenges to, and gaps in, achieving an integrated sustainability approach within banks by utilising theoretical underpinnings from both commercial and social entrepreneurship leadership models and frameworks for sustainability leadership. In addressing a gap in the empirical literature, the study was undertaken to determine if specific characteristics, like leadership style or specific skills or behaviours might result in one leader being more effective at social and environmental sustainability performance and practices than another, and why these characteristics might play an important role in addressing sustainable strategy development and implementation gaps within banks. An analysis and integration of empirical sustainable social entrepreneurial leadership characteristic and models is relevant to the creation of a new leadership framework for sustainability, especially when social and ecological sustainability domains are being considered. In order to conduct the study, a positivist approach was applied and a quantitative study was undertaken using a simple random probability sampling method targeting various levels of employees within the bank who carried out typical leadership roles. The population targeted included 320 leaders within the bank and a sample size of 178 was drawn at 95% confidence level and 5% confidence interval. 320 questionnaires were administered and results from 233 usable responses were analysed using SPSS.The findings of the study revealed that specific leadership traits, skills, styles, knowledge, awareness and performance levels towards social and environmental sustainability needed to be improved within the bank. These findings also differed across the various levels of leadership within banks, with executives and branch area managers performing better than personnel at other levels. This was found to negatively affect social and environmental sustainability performance and reflected a lack of accountability, responsibility and commitment for these initiatives in the normal operations of the bank. The study also found that specific leadership styles impacted positively on social and environmental sustainability performance and practices, and that traits, values and behaviours can impact on how leaders prioritize social, environmental and economic sustainability domains to ensure positive sustainability practices. The study found that there is a need for sustainability leadership development within the bank where leaders need to develop specific characteristics in order to ensure that they can develop and implement effective social and environmental sustainability strategies. The key findings and recommendations in this study, and the suggested leadership framework for sustainability, could benefit leaders by enabling them to implement more integrated sustainability approaches and practices into their strategies by developing specific leadership styles, traits, knowledge and skills.


Doctoral Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.