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.


Sylvania Sheppard


Sylvania studied and worked in Cape Town, gaining a B Tech degree in Business Administration. She then worked in administration for Ernst & Young, and thereafter in labour law for the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration in the Arbitration Department as a Professional Assistant.

She subsequently lived in the United Kingdom, Russia and Greece. Following her return to South Africa, she was a Business Manager for an independent school, Pecanwood College in Hartebeespoort Dam.

Sylvania joined Legitimate Leadership in 2016. She has been co-developer of the Afrika Tikkun-Legitimate Leadership Give to Grow programme aimed at developing and growing the youth in South Africa. Her main roles in Legitimate Leadership are project management, client project quality management, sales and marketing management and development of associates.

Sylvania grew up in Cape Town, the youngest of 10 siblings. She now lives in Johannesburg; she is married with three children. Her interest includes, most importantly, family – followed by community service, cooking, hiking and running, and yoga.