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The road less travelled: A Zimbabwean leadership dilemma

Case writer Patrick Cairns (The Case Writing, University of Cape Town, Graduate School of Business)
Case writer Sarah Boyd (The Case Writing, University of Cape Town, Graduate School of Business)
Professor Kurt April (The Case Writing, University of Cape Town, Graduate School of Business)

Publication date: 29 June 2021


Subject area of the teaching case:

The values-based leadership (VBL) themes lend the case to use in courses focussed on individual leadership approaches, personal-professional development, personal mastery, or individual agency in social change and social justice movements. The emerging market context adds a layer of complexity to the protagonist's journey, which may make the case especially relevant for use among students who work in this context or in courses that deal with volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (VUCA).

Student level:

The primary target audience for this case is postgraduate students in a management or professional development program.

Brief overview of the teaching case:

This case offers a leadership profile of lawyer Fadzayi Mahere as she pursues social change at the national level by running for political office in Zimbabwe in 2018. The case recounts Mahere's professional journey through human rights law and local activism, which eventually drives her to run as an independent for a position in the national election. She does this as a response to the dire state of the country: economic crisis, social instability, and political corruption that are making life increasingly untenable for most people. In spite of running a strong grassroots campaign, Mahere loses the election and is faced with the dilemma of whether or not to forego independence and join the dominant opposition party. The case therefore centres around the role of values in leadership, the role of narrative in shaping the decision to lead, and how these things impact a leader's strategy for affecting social change and achieving social justice.

Expected learning outcomes:

  1. Appreciate the systemic nature of social problems in an emerging market context and how this creates different opportunities for a leader to act on a problem

  2. Understand how a leader's identity, in terms of values and experiences, shapes their motivations and informs their strategy for leading a change effort

  3. Understand the dimensions of values-based leadership (VBL) – transformational, authentic, accountability, and ethical leadership – and how the actions of a values-driven leader reflect these

  4. Identify the mechanisms that aspiring leaders practicing VBL can use to build an authentic narrative for key stakeholders to accept and embrace them

  5. Recognise the different strategies a leader can adopt to achieve values-driven outcomes, while maintaining alignment with the different dimensions of VBL



Cairns, P., Boyd, S. and April, K. (2021), "The road less travelled: A Zimbabwean leadership dilemma", .



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