Original Research

Exploring the learnings derived from catalytic experiences in a leadership context

Daphna S. Horowitz, René van Eeden
SA Journal of Human Resource Management | Vol 13, No 1 | a598 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhrm.v13i1.598 | © 2015 Daphna S. Horowitz, René van Eeden | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 07 October 2013 | Published: 25 June 2015

About the author(s)

Daphna S. Horowitz, PEAC Solutions, Johannesburg, South Africa
René van Eeden, Department of Psychology, University of South Africa, South Africa


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Abstract

Orientation: Personal leadership comprises self-awareness, authenticity, inspiration and passion. The concept of personal leadership was explored together with its relationship with leadership-related learnings derived from a catalytic experience.

Research purpose: The objective of the study was to explore the leadership-related learnings derived from a catalytic experience and any connection between these learnings, personal leadership and leadership in an organisational context.

Motivation for the study: Measurement of leaders’ performance remains largely focused on the results achieved. The importance of personal leadership in the corporate environment is often ignored and even questioned. Recognising that there is a relationship between personal leadership and professional leadership enables leaders to connect who they are being and what they are doing. This can enhance their leadership.

Research design, approach and method: The study was conducted using a qualitative approach, specifically narrative enquiry. The sample comprised seven leaders who have had catalytic experiences in their lives. In-depth interviews were conducted and thematic analysis was used to identify themes on the leadership-related learnings gained from the leaders’catalytic experiences.

Main findings: Elements of personal leadership and the processes involved in the development of personal leadership were identified. It was furthermore shown that challenging experiences serve as learning opportunities and that time for reflection is essential in this learning process.

Practical/managerial implications: Leadership lessons are best learnt through experience.Using challenging experiences as learning opportunities may assist leaders in their growth and development.

Contribution: Leadership effectiveness and organisational effectiveness may be enhanced by a more holistic view of leadership that includes elements of personal leadership.


Keywords

development; personal leadership; self-awareness; narrative inquiry

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