There is convincing evidence that effective leadership is a major contributing factor to small business growth and success. However, attention to leadership focused on founding CEOs abounds at the expense of exploring the distribution of leadership across an organization. This study explored they hybridity of focused and distributed leadership enactment in a fast-growing small business situated in South Africa. The first objective was to form a holistic view of how the members of the organization lead, incorporating leadership focused on key individual leaders and that which is shared and distributed amongst and between others. The second objective was to contextualize leadership hybridity to the South African culture and demands of fast business growth. The third objective was to explore how leaders transform as they navigate the terrains of focused and distributed leadership. The overarching goal was to propose a holistic leadership hybridity framework that appreciates these complexities. A qualitative single case study research design guided the study. The case study database was created from in-depth interviews with leaders and followers, focus group interviews, participant observations of organizational activities, and the review of two documents. Themes emerged to suggest that there is harmonious leadership hybridity that occurs through both the behaviors of critical individual leaders at the top (notably, the CEO) and those emerging from outside of formal structures through distributed leadership across multiple leadership actors and factors. The South African culture of ubuntu seems to support post-heroic leadership but does not exclude acknowledging that growing a business involves a collection of heroic acts. And lastly, leaders and followers who performed leadership within hybridity (i.e., those that can fluidly move between being a leader or a follower) benefited from enhanced self-regulation, amongst other psychosocial benefits. The insight gained from this study could inform leadership development initiatives that are more effective in growing leaders and small businesses in Southern Africa.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Organizational leadership; Organizational change -- South Africa; Executives -- South Africa; Leadership -- South Africa

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Hamilton, Eric R.;