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Exercising leadership in a dynamic context : the interface between political and administrative leadership.

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The legislatures of South Africa are responsible for passing laws, exercising oversight over the executive arm of government and ensuring that the public is involved in the legislative processes of government. Arguably, the legislatures are the vanguard of democracy as it is in the legislatures that the public is represented through their public representatives. Accordingly, to ensure that the legislature is effective, it must be effectively led by both the political leadership as well as the administrative leadership at an institutional level. . The study focused on the leadership issues in relation to the Speakers and Secretaries in the legislative sector, whilst at the same time considering the impact of various portfolios and leadership positions in relation to addressing impediments or support for leadership The study was conducted under a qualitative research paradigm and considered leadership qualities of political leaders and administrative leaders in the legislatures of South Africa and the constitutional, legislative and operational environment in relation to whether it was conducive to exercising effective leadership within legislatures. The research showed that the environment is turbulent and leadership has developed organically in the legislatures, with political leaders being elected into positions and administrative leaders being appointed into positions. Administrative leaders are reliant on political leaders for setting institutional policy, whilst arguably; administrative leaders are responsible for implementing policy. Findings revealed that there exists some disconnect between the understanding of the roles and functions between the two groups exercising leadership in the legislature and the mechanisms and structures that are utilized to do so. Findings revealed that theories of leadership have been exercised by default rather than design, but that the political leadership displays a large capacity for consultation on issues whilst administrative leaders display a largely mechanistic approach and on average, do not display an understanding of political nuances that impact on administrative decisions. Findings revealed that leadership is an emerging concept with a distributed form of leadership as well as an informal delegated form of leadership amongst political leaders which in instances impacts on the administrative leadership of the legislature. Findings exposed barriers, which negatively impacted on political and administrative leaders’ motivation to perform effectively at a leadership level. These barriers included the lack of a proper legislative framework that clarifies roles and functions of specific office bearers and enables the legislature to act independently of the executive. In addition, budgetary constraints as well as party politics impacts largely on the leadership roles in the legislature. Recommendations include, inter alia, passage of legislation that addresses the separation of powers and recognizes the role of the legislature, continuous emphasis of leadership roles and functions to transform political organizations and participants in the sector by deepening understanding of leadership at all levels.


Master of Commerce in Leadership Studies. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Westville 2011.


Political leadership--South Africa., Government executives--South Africa., Leadership--South Africa., Theses--Leadership and management., Administrative leadership.