Technical experts as managers and servant leaders

Twane Wessels, Jeremias Jesaja de Klerk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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Abstract

The main aim of this research was to explore how a servant leadership style can assist technical experts as managers to become more effective leaders. Secondary objectives included exploring the leadership challenges that technical expert managers experience, the factors that make it harder or easier for a
technical expert to be a servant leader and investigating to what extent servant leadership can be relevant to their context. Qualitative research through semi-structured interviews was conducted. We found that technical expert managers mostly experience interpersonal and time capacity challenges. Emerging
technical experts prefer a technical expert as a manager for guidance and mentorship, making it easier for technical expert managers to assume a servant leadership style. Having an intrinsic legacy motive beyond just making a technical contribution promotes a servant leadership style. Organisational culture and an organisation’s stage in its growth cycle can make it harder or easier to adopt a servant leadership style. Our findings further confirm that servant leadership includes a purpose of empowerment, encouraging technical expert managers to delegate more. Time constraints and several interpersonal
leadership challenges may be mitigated because servant leaders tend to operate from a stronger relationship domain which helps to enhance a technical expert manager’s capacity to delegate. However, given work deliverables of technical expert managers, we conclude that an appropriate balance between transformational and servant leadership might be an even more advantageous leadership approach.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-101
Number of pages43
JournalSouth African Actuarial Journal
Volume23
Publication statusPublished - 14 Dec 2023

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