Morne Mostert Award winner shares more about his PhD journey at Stellenbosch Business School
Dr Cobus Oosthuizen, a Stellenbosch Business School PhD graduate, was recently awarded the Morne Mostert Award for a Futures-related PhD. The award, now in its fifth year, celebrates scholarly achievement at the highest level of study, which explores significant future shifts. Cobus explored the mind of future leaders in his research titled "A 4IR Integrated Intelligence Taxonomy and Measurement Framework for Top Management".
About this recognition, he says: "I am deeply humbled by the award and the recognition that goes with it. After years of hard work, the pinnacle of my academic career is to be conferred with the degree and recognised with the Morne Mostert Award. In a sense, the award strengthens my stewardship commitment to evangelising the study's findings to promote leadership efficacy in complex dynamic contexts."
In his research, Cobus examines how organisational leaders should prepare themselves to meet the challenges and seize the opportunities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). "This period of rapid technological change requires an evolution in leadership intelligence, and my study sought to define this new intelligence paradigm.
"I developed a 4IR Intelligence Taxonomy using a Delphi study to identify nine crucial types of intelligence for leaders in the 4IR era. These include complexity-, inquiry-, critical-, futures-, adaptive-, creative-, emotional-, ethical-, and collaborative intelligence," he explains.
Using a custom-developed measurement instrument, he tested these types of intelligence and organised them into three higher-order constructs, namely Episteme-Analytical Intelligence, Techne-Inventive Intelligence, and Phronesis-Synergic Intelligence. He says the model was found to be robust and can serve as a foundational theoretical model for understanding leadership intelligence in the 4IR era.
"This research resulted in a practical 4IR Integrated Intelligence Framework that leaders can use to assess and develop their abilities. Implementing this framework could prove pivotal for top management to effectively lead their organisations in this transformative period.
Recommendations for practical application include 360° assessments, increased use of experiential and action learning, and embracing 4IR integrated intelligence practice values," he says.
Choosing an education partner
Cobus chose Stellenbosch Business School because of its "prestigious reputation, long history and being the first African business school to receive the triple crown of international accreditations".
Some other key considerations for him were the more than 30 000 alumni that are indicative of the School's world-class status and its African focus with globally relevant expertise in areas such as sustainable development, futures research, development finance, ethics and corporate governance, responsible leadership development, management coaching and emerging-country economics.
"Finally, having the highest average number of research publication citations for core faculty of any business school in South Africa and Africa clinched my choice," he adds.
"I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone seeking a world-class education and making Stellenbosch Business School your lifelong education and development partner. Someone once said that you are who you surround yourself with – proximity is power – and Stellenbosch Business School is the partner you want to be associated with for your lifelong learning ambitions."
The meaning of responsible leadership
On what responsible leadership means to him, he says: "In three words: 'Practically wise pathfinders.'
"Essentially, sustainable and responsible leaders should be able to identify and solve complex problems. They should review and synthesise information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions. They should also self-direct their learning and thinking, remain relevant and help others to remain relevant. In addition, they must use logic and reason to identify the benefits and risks of alternative solutions or approaches to problems."
He continues: "They must also reflect critically on assumptions about the impact of drivers of change on society and those that influence continuous, sustainable learning. They must inspire constructive, foresight-infused dialogue that enables the emergence of innovation; adapt to internal and external changes; redirect strategic orientation and follower behaviour; tolerate uncertainty and cope in challenging situations spawned by change. Thinking critically to develop new ideas and solutions to opportunities and challenges is also an important quality, as is the ability to shape a culture of experimentation and tolerate failure and new-purpose innovation. Such leaders also recognise and regulate emotions in themselves and others and have the emotional strength to exercise the will to accomplish goals in the face of opposition.
"Lastly, they must be ethically and morally attentive, alert to moral issues for which adequate morality is yet to be established and develop new ethical norms that contribute to a better society while challenging traditions that are no longer adequate. In this way, sustainable and responsible leaders should be able to create positive, hope-filled narratives that enable people to participate in, and benefit from, transformations and change."
Cobus says responsible leadership is managing an organisation holistically, prioritising ethical decision-making, sustainability, and long-term value creation. "This involves considering the needs and interests of various stakeholders, such as employees, customers, shareholders, and the community while addressing environmental and social concerns. A responsible leader cultivates a culture of transparency, accountability, and inclusiveness, encouraging innovation and fostering a sense of shared responsibility for the organisation's impact.
"By balancing economic performance with social and environmental considerations, responsible leaders contribute to the greater good and promote sustainable growth for both their organisation and society as a whole," he says.
Cobus says his entire PhD journey with the business school was a highlight. "It was a growth-producing experience in its entirety. From being blessed with exceptional supervisors, Profs Marius Ungerer and Jako Volschenk, to the emergence of a topic that significantly shifted my perspectives, to excellent academic and administrative support, all contributing to an awesome journey that will always stand out as a highlight in my life."