To read the full version of this content please select one of the options below:

Combining interventions: an innovative leadership development program

Magdalena Maria Holtzhausen (Department of Human Resource Management, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa)
Petro Botha (Department of Social Work, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa)

Journal of Management Development

ISSN: 0262-1711

Article publication date: 10 December 2019

Issue publication date: 29 April 2021



The purpose of this paper is to present an innovative leadership development program, which forms part of a corporate social responsibility (CSR) outreach. The program aims to develop the leadership of school principals in under-resourced communities in South Africa, while simultaneously developing the business partners paired with these principals. Through creatively combining various leadership development interventions, the human and social capital of the school principals and collaborating leaders are expanded to prepare them for an uncertain, volatile environment. This paper focuses on the learning experiences of the business partners. The program exposes business leaders to scenarios that develop unique leadership skills.


An empirical study was conducted with a purposive sample of 73 business leaders who completed the 12-month leadership development program. A qualitative approach was followed, consisting of an online survey that predominantly required a narrative description of leaders’ perceptions and experiences. The qualitative feedback was thematically analyzed.


The findings indicated that the use of combined leadership development interventions is important in adequately preparing leaders for the challenges of a changing and unpredictable environment.

Research limitations/implications

The findings of the research are limited by the small sample of 73 business leaders from a population of 294. Inferential statistics could not be conducted and responses to the survey cannot be regarded as representative of the total population. Possible bias may exist through utilizing a purposive sampling technique; however, this was counteracted through rigorous research, cross-checking and quality assurance initiatives.

Practical implications

The presented program innovatively combines the benefits of a CSR program with shared value in human and social capital. Business leaders are exposed to various leadership development interventions. This approach effectively prepares business leaders to deal with multifaceted contextual issues within a diverse, complex and volatile environment. The present paper shows that through successfully cultivating better leadership development initiatives and adopting appropriate and pertinent development programs, human and social capital available for economic progress are appropriately managed and channeled. Furthermore, resource exchange is enhanced through establishing strong interpersonal relations. This collaboration acts as a forerunner to business success. Hence, through adopting such intervention programs and teaching their processes and procedures, the development and implementation of positive public policy can be assisted.

Social implications

The value of the current research on public attitude is that its results imply and create the belief and acceptance that uncertainty and disparity can be alleviated through developing strong interpersonal relations that improve the exchange of resources through the collaboration of public and business stakeholders.


This paper introduces an innovative leadership development program, which, as part of a CSR initiative, aims to improve the leadership of school principals in under-resourced schools, while simultaneously developing the business leaders involved in the initiative. This is done through partnering a school principal with a business leader in a formal participatory leadership development program. Research shows that the unique combinations of leadership development interventions cultivate school principals and business leaders who are emotionally and culturally intelligent, resilient and well prepared to push willingly beyond and across boundaries in unfamiliar environments.



Holtzhausen, M.M. and Botha, P. (2021), "Combining interventions: an innovative leadership development program", Journal of Management Development, Vol. 40 No. 3, pp. 240-252.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited