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Change the world


The world of work is changing, and business needs to adapt the way in which leadership development training is done to match the needs of emerging managers.


This was one of several significant findings in the research of Dr Leola Britton, who graduated with a Doctorate in Business Administration from Nelson Mandela University in Gqeberha this month.

Human resources specialist Dr Britton has been the Talent and Leadership Development Executive at Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa (CCBSA) in Johannesburg for the past three years.

She titled her thesis: “A leadership framework required for emerging managers within the new world of work”.

It drew on insights from senior figures at a major law firm and an international paper and pulp manufacturer.

After an 180 degree assessment, Dr Britton redesigned a leadership development programme for both firms. She tested this on emerging leaders, and then compared before and after to see if there had been any improvement.

The study considered key aspects such as strategic thinking capabilities, networking, stakeholder engagement and other factors.

Professor Paul Poisat, of the University’s Faculty of Business and Economic Sciences, supervised Dr Britton’s PhD and said her research made a valuable contribution.

“Her results proved that emerging leaders who had completed the training course showed significant improvement in the new competencies identified,” said Prof Poisat.

“Leola’s study contributes to our understanding of the leadership competencies required for emerging leaders within the ‘new world of work’.”

As registered psychometrist and coach with a career path in various fields, Dr Britton has worked in both global and local sectors including fast-moving consumer goods, manufacturing, government, legal services and insurance.

“The world of work is changing, and it's also changing the demographic profile of future leaders,” said Dr Britton. What is more, “the new world of work is something that a lot of old organisations don't understand.”

She said one way of understanding this world was to use the newer BANI model rather than the older VUCA acronym. In VUCA, leaders deal with a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambivalent world.  By comparison, the BANI model stands for a brittle, anxious, non-linear and incomprehensible, and many “old” values and rules are no longer valid.

In a post-Covid era marked by increasing chaos, along with international conflicts and the effects of climate change, many researchers see BANI as a more useful tool.

In addition, Dr Britton said, “our leaders are approximately 10 to 15 years younger than what they were many years ago and we often find that the depth of our current leadership pool is missing”.

Dr Britton addressed this lack of “leadership gravitas” in her doctorate: “I looked at the leadership framework that organsations should consider for their emerging leaders as well as the types of development programmes needed to ensure that our emerging leaders are fit for purpose for the future.”

She gathered her data through interviews with the leadership layer in both organisations.

“In a nutshell, I picked these people's brains to ask: what's your view on leadership? What do you think are the leadership requirements for our emerging leaders? What things are important to you? And then I did a series of focus groups with a variety of leaders within both organisations.”

Her results supported her theory of a 70/20/10 model of leadership development, where leaders learn:

  • 70% of what they need to succeed on-site at work,
  • 20% from in-company coaching, and
  • 10% in the classroom.

”The new thinking is that the bulk of the learning you retain happens on the job. Because the world is changing so quickly, we don't have the time to send somebody on a sabbatical to go and study,” she said.

Coaching in-house by senior colleagues also could boost confidence and help to dispel feelings of “imposter syndrome”.

Born and raised in Gqeberha, Dr Britton’s educational background includes an honours degree in psychology, a Master’s degree in sociology specialising in group dynamics, and now her doctorate in business administration, all from Nelson Mandela University.

Despite living and working in Johannesburg, she was keen to return to her alma mater.

“I think that the university is underrated and the programmes offered are often of a higher standard than the norm. Even though we mainly corresponded by email or via Teams, the support I got from my professors was second to none so studying at Nelson Mandela University for me was a complete no-brainer.”

Having grown up in Parkside, and with family and friends still in the city, graduation was a joyous event.

And, as the first of two Business and Economic Sciences doctorates to be capped on her graduation day last week, Dr Britton received a standing ovation when she crossed the stage.

“The acknowledgement from the crowd was amazing, I felt like a celebrity!”

For all your graduation content across your social media platforms, please use #MandelaUniGrad24. We would love to collate, share and celebrate this amazing achievement with you on official University platforms.

Contact information
Mrs Debbie Derry
Deputy Director: Communication
Tel: 041 504 3057