A key problem facing leaders at work is to establish a sense of legitimacy for their leadership, to mobilise the consent of their people to being led by them. This only happens when leaders have a sincere and genuine concern for those in their charge and enable their people to realise the very best in themselves. In other words, managers have the right to demand delivery of their people, not because they pay them or because they are in a position of authority, but because they Care for and Grow them.
Care and Growth are the universal criteria for any Legitimate Relationship of Power.
The Legitimate Leadership Model originated from seminal research into trust in management in the South African gold mines in the late 1980s. Contrary to expectation, trust in management in the apartheid era was not consistently low, but varied immensely, both across mines and even in different shafts on the same mine. Trust in management was not found to be a function of working/living conditions, rates of pay, trade union activity, or the sophistication of the company’s human resources policies and systems. Rather, trust in management was granted or withheld on the basis of the employees’ perception of their leadership’s genuine concern for their welfare. The leadership of a mine was seen to be legitimate and worthy, or not, of support on this basis only.
Whether the management of any enterprise is trusted and viewed as legitimate, therefore, is ultimately a function of the intent of the immediate supervisor at any level in the hierarchy.
Over the past 25 years these original findings have been confirmed in diverse organisations across the world.
Wendy was brought up in Zimbabwe, Malawi and Britain. She is married and lives in Wiltshire, England.
Wendy was head girl of her high school, Chaplin High in Zimbabwe. She was a competitive swimmer, squash and hockey player before taking up long distance running. After running the Comrades Marathon (87kms) in 1987, she pursued the greater pleasure of running in the veld around Johannesburg (South Africa) with her two Irish setters. Initially she studied English Literature and Psychology, then completed an MA (Industrial and Organisational Psychology). In the late 1980s she qualified as an industrial psychologist with the South African Medical and Dental Council.
Her first job was on a research project sponsored by South African companies which aimed to advance at work people who had been disadvantaged by the apartheid system She was then employed in the human resources department of what was, at the time, the biggest explosives factory in the world (African Explosives and Chemicals Industries (AECI), Modderfontein). After three years she bought a one-way ticket to India in order to take her retirement in instalments (a piece of advice which she had been given). In the two years she spent on the road, mainly in Asia and the Middle East, she discovered two abiding passions: mountains and the human qualities which enable different people across the world to live meaningful lives.
Back in South Africa, she was engaged to set up a pioneering accelerated development programme sponsored by the Paris Chamber of Commerce in partnership with South African institutions. Launched in 1986, this programme made a significant contribution to nurturing management talent in South Africa for the next 15 years. She returned to the world of explosives manufacturing, which was beset by productivity, quality and, above all, safety concerns – at the core of which was a failure in leadership. In a senior organisational development role in AECI, she worked with leadership to transform the organisation. The golden thread was the care and growth leadership model.
She has since consulted across a wide range of organisations both locally and internationally on the implementation of the Legitimate Leadership Model.
In 2014, she formed Legitimate Leadership to further support organisations, both in South Africa and internationally, to apply the Legitimate Leadership Model. Over the past two decades she has become an internationally-recognised authority on practically achieving transformation in organisations using the care and growth leadership model. A client said: “Wendy embodies the values of Legitimate Leadership of people in the workplace, her actions are invariably consistent with these values. In her extensive consultancy work with us, she has on all occasions added value to the specific issue at hand, at the same time consolidating the leadership ethos, both as a philosophy and as integral to our day to day leadership practices.”