Johannesburg - Black economic empowerment (BEE) business leaders
who in the past succeeded predominantly through political clout rather than
entrepreneurial initiative are no longer regarded as iconic, according to a new
study of leaders in South Africa by the Reputation Institute South Africa.
The survey conducted among economically active people and
called the RepTrak Leader South Africa 2012 rates the leadership qualities of top business, political and BEE figures in
South Africa today.
The survey found there had been a huge shift in the
reputations of BEE business leaders from similar surveys conducted previously.
Mining magnate Patrice Motsepe achieved the highest score in
the survey with 64.56, while BEE leaders Cyril Ramaphosa, Tokyo Sexwale and Saki
Macozoma were placed 13th, 15th and 16th in the survey respectively with scores
of 55.54 (Ramaphosa), 54.75 (Sexwale) and 54.74 (Macozoma).
In overall second place was Cosatu General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi (61.17).
President Kgalema Motlanthe with a rating of 59.93 was overall third, with
MTN’s chief executive officer Sifiso Dabengwa (59.38) and SABMiller’s CEO
Graham McKay (59.31) in fourth and fifth places respectively.
Reputation Institute South Africa’s managing director and senior
lecturer in strategy at Wits Business School, Dr Dominik Heil, said in a
statement: “In previous surveys, BEE leaders were overall seen as
as a vivid demonstration that the ordinary person could make it to the
“Whereas this is presumably still true for Patrice Motsepe,
the prominent players in the BEE space who are seen to have gotten there
predominantly through political clout rather than entrepreneurial initiative
are no longer regarded as proxies for people’s aspirations and are now in the
middle of the spectrum.
“Despite their philanthropic initiatives they have failed to
convince the public that their involvement in the economy has helped to build a
more equitable society or has benefited South Africans at large.
an opportune moment for a new conversation about making black economic
empowerment work for those in real need of empowerment,” Heil adds.
The survey was conducted over a period of several weeks in
January and February 2012. A sample of 1 304 economically active people
provided 3 647 ratings.
All those surveyed were LSM6 and above, had some level
of education, and lived mostly in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape and
Eastern Cape. In order to qualify for the survey, respondents had
to be “somewhat” or “very familiar” with a leader to provide a rating.
Respondents were asked to rate the country’s top
politicians, business leaders and some of the most prominent BEE players.
business leaders chosen to be surveyed were the CEOs of the top 10n listed
companies in South Africa, while the politicians listed in the survey were the
top echelon of government as well as the leaders of the main political parties.
BEE leaders surveyed were chosen after a combination of a
preliminary qualitative research on top-of-mind familiarity about beneficiaries
of BEE deals, and a Google search on number of mentions of these candidates to
verify their prominence.
With an average score of 49.4, politicians in South Africa
performed better than other world political leaders (who scored 43.20 in a
similar survey in 2011) while South African business CEOs, with an average
score of 55.68, fared worse than the global average for business leaders of
The survey had also found that the heads of local banks,
Absa's Maria Ramos and Nedbank's Mike Brown, had the worst reputations among
leaders of the JSE's top 10 listed companies.
Heil says the Reputation Institute conducted this study to
give an informed baseline to the debate about the kind of leadership that is
needed in South Africa in order to achieve a shared vision of society.
He adds: “It was interesting for us at Reputation Institute
to see that overall there is no strong inherent bias for or against political
or business leaders as such and that you could find people of different
sectors, gender and races at the top, in the middle and at the bottom of the
“It needs to be borne in mind that this is a perceptions
study and not a study of the managerial qualities of CEOs and politicians.
is however an important aspect of any leader not just to fulfil their
managerial tasks but also to manage perceptions in the public and among stakeholders
"South Africa comes from a long history of leaders who are
holding themselves accountable to cliques rather than society at large.
“This is further pronounced in South Africa where economic
and political power is highly concentrated in the hands of a relatively few
"This puts leaders on the one hand into particularly prominent
positions and, on the other hand, gives them a role that tends to have a huge
influence on many individuals, stakeholder groups and the entire nation.
failure to manage perceptions appropriately reflects back on the organisations
they lead and has significant consequences for their ability to deliver on
their mandate and strategic objectives.”
Among the qualities that influenced survey participants in
their rating of leaders, the strongest driver was that of being “a strong and
Second most important driver was that of “creating value”,
while “making South Africa a better place” was rated third. “Communicating
effectively” was the least most important driver.
In the context of the current debate on CEO remuneration,
there seems to be no inherent bias against well paid or rich leaders.
seems to be rather whether business leaders contribute to value creation in a
way that justifies their financial reward.
“Those leaders who have done well in the survey seemingly
demonstrate a good understanding of the space that they occupy in society and
are perceived to occupy it with vision, integrity and in a way that earns
respect, even if people don’t agree with everything they say or do,” Heil said.
The ratings of all those surveyed in terms of respondents’
emotional connections to leaders were as follows:
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