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.
Jim held leadership positions at South Africa’s Potchefstroom Boys High – head of house, cricket captain and rugby captain. He represented his province in cricket and was awarded a cricket bursary to study at Nelson Mandela University. He wanted to become a professional cricketer.
There he played for various leading South African cricket teams – and graduated in social sciences with three majors: psychology, industrial psychology and sociology.
Jim’s first job was as a labour relations officer at what is today Bridgestone Firestone South Africa. The labour relations environment in the early 1980s was a virtual war zone – the workplace was the only legal platform for the expression of black aspirations during latter-day apartheid.
Jim was appointed as the youngest director (HR) at Bridgestone Firestone at the age of 32.
In 1995 Bridgestone International bought Firestone International. A condition of purchase was that the local operation would be closed if it was not turned around within six months. Appointed as manufacturing director, Jim led the turnaround process. Six months later the plant had improved productivity by 60 %, and it is still in operation today. This was the first time Jim was exposed to the care and growth framework.
In 1998 Jim established his own business specialising in interim leadership and turnarounds. He has led various successful turnarounds, most notably at AECI Explosives and AEL Coatings, where he again applied the care and growth framework. He has continued to use the framework in subsequent assignments and projects.
Jim has also been involved in the renewable energy industry since 2005. Jim is married and lives in Johannesburg.