Transformational Leadership and Work Engagement in the Automotive Retail Industry: A Study of South Africa

  •  Abhinanda Gautam    
  •  Eben Enslin    


Real leadership is needed in the automotive industry’s competitive environment to guide subordinates so that they share goals, attitudes, values, and work towards the achievement of organisational strategies. Macroenvironmental changes such as the slowdown in the South African economy, labour unrest, high unemployment levels, a weakening currency, and new vehicle price increases have had a detrimental effect on automotive retailers and can be blamed partially for dealers struggling to reach targets in recent years. This perpetually fluctuating external environment promotes corresponding internal automotive dealership changes and strategies. This might mean changes to intangible resources like dealership processes, policies, procedures, or physical resources like people, demographics, materials and products. In both cases, strong leadership is required.

The primary aim of this exploratory study was to determine whether sales managers exhibited a predominately transactional or transformational leadership style, and to understand current levels of work engagement of sales executives in motor dealerships’ new and used vehicle sales departments. A secondary aim was to examine the correlation between the prevailing leadership style (either transactional or transformational) of sales managers and the level of work engagement of sales executives.

The research method included a formal quantitative, cross-sectional survey. Data was collected using questionnaires developed by international researchers in the field of transformational and transactional leadership and work engagement. The main findings of this research will contribute to current literature and knowledge relating to work engagement and its interdependence with transformational and transactional leadership.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.