Original Research

Spiritual leadership within the ambit of African Management philosophies using interactive qualitative analysis

Khumbulani Sibanda, Anton Grobler
Acta Commercii | Vol 23, No 1 | a1069 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ac.v23i1.1069 | © 2023 Khumbulani Sibanda, Anton Grobler | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 13 June 2022 | Published: 06 March 2023

About the author(s)

Khumbulani Sibanda, Graduate School of Business Leadership, Faculty of Leadership, University of South Africa, Midrand, South Africa
Anton Grobler, Graduate School of Business Leadership, Faculty of Leadership, University of South Africa, Midrand, South Africa


Orientation: This research is about a focus group of managers and their experiences relating to spiritual leadership in the South African context.

Research purpose: To critically examine mainstream spiritual leadership, within the context of African management philosophies (AMP), towards describing and prosing a southern African spiritual leadership scale.

Motivation for the study: A systematic literature review revealed a stark gap in empirical evidence of the existence of spiritual leadership as a harbinger of employee contentment, welfare, and organisational success in Africa.

Research design, approach and method: Through the interactive qualitative analysis (IQA) process, data from eight managers were collected and analysed, and an interrogation of the existence of spiritual leadership via the African lens using AMP typologies was conducted. An exploratory qualitative study was conducted via a focus group of eight managers drawn using biased sampling based on ‘distance and power’ analysis to the phenomena of spiritual leadership.

Main findings: Connection to nature principles (nurturing) are a primary driver to employee welfare. Life as a universal current’s elements (compassion and empathy) influence Ubuntu principles, national culture principles (a set of behaviours, customs, and beliefs) and Indigenous knowledge systems (unadulterated knowledge). Ubuntu also influences co-operative teamwork (togetherness) which is a circulator in the scale that triggers intrinsic motivation which is impacted by traditionalism (adherence to accepted customs and beliefs), and communalism principles (belonging to a community). Intrinsic motivation impacts employee turnover which is influenced by engagement, performance, productivity, and mythology (African myths and lore). Employee turnover ultimately influences employee welfare which is a primary outcome.

Contribution or value add: This research helps undergird spiritual leadership in the South African context by equipping leaders with a new paradigm that uses local management principles that measures its enablers and inhibitors.


Leadership; spiritual leadership; scale development; interactive qualitative analysis; African management philosophies.


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