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.
Peter Jordan grew up on the East Rand in South Africa. He was a high school teacher for nine years and then lectured in history at the Johannesburg College of Education. Peter then moved into industry, as a Training Officer at AECI Explosives and Chemicals (now AEL Mining Services) in 1989.
He gradually moved from training and development to become a human resources generalist, finally being appointed as Group Human Resources Manager. After nine years in this role, Peter retired from AEL at the end of 2010. However he thereafter returned to AEL as a consultant, particularly in organizational transformation.
For most his time at AEL Peter was closely associated with the Legitimate Leadership framework. In the 1990s he was deeply involved in the entrenchment of this model at the AEL manufacturing plants at Modderfontein, Johannesburg.