About Us

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.

What are the roots of the Legitimate Leadership Model?

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.

Where has the Legitimate Leadership Model been applied? 

Over the past 25 years the original research findings have been applied in more than 250 diverse organisations around the world. Legitimate Leadership Partners and Associates work with clients globally both on-site and from their home locations in the United Kingdom, South Africa, Canada, Belgium and Finland.


Our core consulting team of Legitimate Leadership directors and associates are supported by an exceptional back office team and specialist staff, as well as a broad network of consultants, coaches and mentors who work together to enable the shift from TAKING to GIVING.


Leonie van Tonder


Leonie van Tonder was born and raised in Klerksdorp, a mining community in South Africa.

The first 18 years of her career were spent in the nursing profession, three of those as the Matron of the mine hospital at Vaal Reefs in Orkney.  This experience gave Leonie some insight into the mining world from the health and safety/accident perspective.

When she left nursing, she joined the commercial world where she held a number of executive and senior leadership positions until she retired for the first time in 2009, after twenty-three years with the FirstRand Group.  During this time, she held the positions of Chief Underwriter at Momentum Life, Head of New Business at Aegis, Head of Administration at Origin and CEO of Share Services at First National Bank, where at one stage she had over 3 000 people in her business unit. The most recent position was COO at Afrika Tikkun for 5years.

She has been working with the Legitimate Leadership framework for the last twenty years.  Successfully rolling it out in different and diverse environments.  The last and most successful intervention that she led was in Afrika Tikkun, a non-profit organisation (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BrP1IXvTvxM).

To quote Leonie, “I believe in Legitimate Leadership, I live it every day and I have seen the most amazing turn arounds in the hardest of managers to the most basic of ordinary people.”

She continues to work with the Legitimate Leadership principles and practices as an Associate of Legitimate Leadership sharing her wealth of experience in leadership with Legitimate Leadership clients.