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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

On-line version ISSN 2224-7912
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VAN ZYL, Ebben. The relation between stress and self-leadership characteristics among a group of first-line supervisors working in a state organisation. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2008, vol.48, n.4, pp.454-466. ISSN 2224-7912.

The world is characterized by political, social and economic environmental changes. Africa and Southern Africa is no exception to this global revolution that is sweeping over managerial and organizational thinking. Internationalisation, for instance, brought along world competition which pressurizes companies to utilise their potential more fully. Stress experienced by managers and employees is an outcome of the abovementioned circumstances and needs to be handled. The South African first-line supervisor in particular is experiencing high levels of stress due to the fact that different needs of subordinates and top management need to be accomodated. Furthermore, research indicated that first-line supervisors often possess inadequate power which makes it difficult to enforce instructions. In the state sector, first-line supervisors have inadequate financial resources making it difficult to plan and implement strategies. Notwithstanding the fact that first-line supervisors experience a broad spectrum of stress, limited research is available that describes the relationship between stress and self-leadership characteristics. Researchers indicated that self-leadership characteristics can be an important tool for supervisors to reduce stress levels. It was decided therefore to determine the relation between stress and self-leadership factors among a group of South African first-line supervisors working in a state organisation. This information can help psychologists/employers to maintain a distinctive approach in communicating and handling problems with the specific group. In order to determine the relation between stress and self-leadership characteristics, the 16 Personality Factor Questionnaire as well as The Revised Self-Leadership Questionnaire were applied on an occasional sample of 69 first-line supervisors. Results showed significant relations between the following self-leadership characteristics and stress: self-reward, focus thoughts on natural rewards/positive aspects of tasks, visualizing successful performance, self-observation and self-goal setting. Furthermore self-leadership as a whole correlates with decisiveness and resourcefulness. In the light of the abovementioned results, it is recommended that first-line supervisors reward themselves for good performance (for instance to take time off) and to focus on those tasks which are inherently rewarding. To visualise successful performance, to observe own performance and to set objectives out of that, can also help to reduce stress levels amongst first-line supervisors in the state sector. The abovementioned self-leadership strategies should therefore be included in stress management courses offered to first-line supervisors working in the state sector. Resourcefulness and decisiveness (to prefer taking own decisions and to experience feelings of security, calmness and confidence in self) can also be included in stress management courses. By implementing the abovementioned recommendations, high levels of stress amongst first-line supervisors can be reduced in a pro-active way which will help to improve productivity levels.

Keywords : Stress; selfleadership; first-line supervisors; state organisation; self-reward; self-observation; self-goalsetting; visualising successful performance; focus thoughts on natural rewards; resourcefulness.

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