Original Research

Ubuntu leadership as a predictor of employee engagement: A South African study

Kerushan Chetty, Gavin Price
SA Journal of Human Resource Management | Vol 22 | a2462 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhrm.v22i0.2462 | © 2024 Kerushan Chetty, Gavin Price | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 09 October 2023 | Published: 21 March 2024

About the author(s)

Kerushan Chetty, Academic Department, Gordon Institute of Business Science, Johannesburg, South Africa
Gavin Price, Academic Department, Faculty of Leadership, Gordon Institute of Business Science, Johannesburg, South Africa


Orientation: Ubuntu leadership is increasingly being promoted as a suitable leadership philosophy for South African workplaces, necessitating further exploration of its application and outcomes.

Research purpose: This study thus investigates Ubuntu leadership as a predictor of employee engagement (EE) in the South African context, considering ethnicity, age and tenure as moderating variables.

Motivation for the study: The necessity to study perceptions of Ubuntu leadership and its influence of EE lies in the need to understand how this culturally rooted leadership style can enhance organisational performance, employee well-being and inclusivity in diverse workplaces.

Research approach/design and method: The study adhered to a positivist philosophical perspective, employing a descriptive research design with a quantitative approach. Data were collected from 193 South African participants through a self-administered online questionnaire.

Main findings: The study findings indicated that the practice of Ubuntu leadership, as perceived by employees, significantly predicted EE.

Practical/managerial implications: Organisational leaders and managers hold a crucial role in shaping the workplace environment, and their acknowledgment of Ubuntu leadership’s fundamental principles, such as fostering authentic relationships, empathy, collaboration and respect, has the potential to boost EE.

Contribution/value-add: The research outcomes offer valuable insights into how Ubuntu leadership can enhance EE and provide proactive measures for its implementation


Ubuntu leadership; employee engagement; organisational culture; respect; collaboration; empathy.

JEL Codes

M10: General; O35: Social Innovation; Z10: General

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 8: Decent work and economic growth


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