Fostering Responsible Leadership | Stellenbosch Business School Skip to main content
Stellenbosch Business School emphasises responsible leadership in a global context, promoting integrity, accountability and societal impact.

There is a lot of talk about responsible leadership in today's South Africa and elsewhere around the world. The need for responsible leaders is pressing when we observe the challenges of competitiveness, climate change, corruption, inequality, growth, and a just transition. The role of businesses and institutions as stakeholders in wider society means leaders from business schools have a key role to play. Responsible leadership is a key part of Stellenbosch Business School’s purpose, and we have a track record in responsible management education dating back decades.

The Business School was at the forefront of responsible leadership initiatives for the management education sector. One of the first responsible leadership conferences was held at Stellenbosch over a decade ago, we have pioneered responsible leadership research for Africa for a number of years, and last year we held another major international event for responsible leadership researchers. In 2024, to celebrate 60 years of the School, leaders of business schools from around the world who make up the Globally Responsible Leadership Initiative (GRLI) will come to Stellenbosch. 

However, more than just talking about it we believe promoting responsible leadership means being responsible leaders ourselves -- we really try to talk the talk. Responsible leadership for us means being a citizen of a wider community; being a steward of the people, resources and organisations, we are part of; having integrity in the decisions and actions we take; and, finally, being accountable for those decisions and actions. 

The most obvious mechanism by which a business school can impact sustainability is through its students and alumni. We have made a deliberate effort to ensure that responsible leadership infuses the modules and classes across all of our programmes. This does not only count of MBA and leadership programmes but also those in Future Studies, Development Finance, Coaching and New Technologies. And at all levels. We all need to be responsible leaders and responsible leadership can act through all disciplines and roles.  

With just over a hundred employees, as a School we can have only a limited direct impact on wider society but when we factor in our many thousand graduates and alumni, we can have a bigger impact. If each of our students is trained and socialized as a responsible leaders the impact is huge through of our graduates as future leaders and managers in organisations where they follow their careers. 

As a business school we can also impact responsible leadership agenda through our knowledge creation, convening spaces, and subsequent thought leadership we undertake. By emphasizing interdisciplinary research business schools are uniquely placed among higher education bodies to meet many of the grand challenges society faces. The research agendas at Stellenbosch Business School span the individual and group levels of leaderships and coaching, the organisational levels of strategy and innovation, and societal levels of policy, regulations and the environment. 

Business Schools are also actors in their ecosystems, and it is here that they need to walk the talk themselves. In our overlapping ecosystems, at Stellenbosch we are proud to be part of the Western Cape, South Africa, the African continent, and indeed a community of leading triple accredited business schools from around the world. At Stellenbosch we face the same challenges as our partners organisations in terms of sustainability, managing diversity and inclusions, and coping with the day-to-day life of working in South Africa - we can try to innovate, learn and share as well as lead the way. 

If as a business school we can walk the talk of responsible leadership we ensure our purpose of developing responsible leaders for a better world touches all aspect of our activities not just as teachers and researchers. Like all leaders are are not perfect and we will make mistakes but as responsible leaders we will be accountable for those, we learn,  and we advance in the interests of the communities and ecosystems where we too are stewards and citizens, just like our student, partners, and alumni.


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