Leadership styles and strategy implementation in the Department of Trade and Industry (dti)
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Many organisations formulate great and unique strategies, but those strategies fail at implementation, hindering their success. Strategy implementation literature indicates that the failure rate in strategy implementation efforts is between 50% and 80%, and most failures emanate from strategy formulation (Rajasekar, 2014:169). Although strategy implementation research has attracted a significant amount of interest, the literature still remains highly uneven and dispersed throughout the overall and specific management domains, with minimal orderly research of any of the key areas pertaining to implementation success (Elbanna, Andrews and Pollanen, 2016; Elbanna, Thanos and Colak, 2014; Bossidy and Charan, 2011). Leadership and strategic management elements have been shown to become ubiquitous over the last two decades with strategy implementation becoming a critical issue for organisational success. If senior managers in the public service are to anticipate and lead successful strategy implementation adroitly to address their service delivery requirements, then there is a need to understand the extent to which their leadership styles determine the success of strategy implementation. This study sets out to explain the relationship between the role of leadership styles as part of strategy implementation by exploring transformational, transactional and laissez-faire leadership styles at the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti) in South Africa. The aim of the study was to determine how the leadership styles of senior managers contribute to the success or failure of strategy implementation in the dti. An explanatory sequential mixed method research design was employed in this study comprising of two phases: Phase 1 was a quantitative study followed by Phase 2, a qualitative study. Phase 1 investigated the leadership styles of senior managers to determine the effectiveness of transformational, transactional and laissez-faire leadership styles as well as the interaction of these leadership styles on the leveraging of core competencies to achieve strategy implementation. Phase 2 involved conducting interviews on selected senior managers and this was followed by survey responses from Phase 1 to gain more insight and a deeper level of understanding on the role of their leadership styles and strategy implementations. Interviews were undertaken through face to face meetings with a sample of nine senior managers. The analysis and results of the quantitative and qualitative study are presented separately followed by a discussion on the interpretation of the analysis, with recommendations for consideration. The findings of this study showed that senior managers who portrayed transformational and transactional leadership styles had a positive influence on strategy implementation and senior managers who portrayed a laissez-faire leadership style had a negative effect on strategy implementation. This indicates that a positive relationship exists between transformational and transactional leadership styles and strategy implementation and a negative relationship exists between the laissez-faire leadership style and strategy implementation. In addition, transformational leadership had a positive influence on the exploration of core competencies while transactional leadership had a positive influence on the exploitation of core competencies. It is therefore recommended that leadership styles be developed through leadership programmes, identifying leadership skills and recognising leadership strengths relevant for strategy implementation. It is also recommended that senior managers identify core competencies and lead core competency engagements as well as strengthen all forms of communication channels during the strategy implementation process. In addition, it is also recommended that senior managers provide the necessary leadership to drive the strategy implementation process and that they lead the process of change to achieve strategy implementation. Where concerns arise, this could be eliminated through a change management process. This study suggests that leadership styles are important for strategy implementation in any organisation and that they can be developed.