The Origins of the Care and Growth Leadership Model

The Care and Growth leadership model is at the very forefront of the modern understanding of leadership. Anyone who is serious about understanding leadership needs to take the time to become familiar with the principles of Care and Growth leadership and the principles of intent that are at the root of the Care and Growth Thematic.

I want to briefly take a moment to describe the origins of the Care and Growth leadership model; and Care and Growth thematic more generally.

Research in the South African Mining Industry

In 1982 Etsko Schuitema, the founder of Care and Growth, was employed by the Chamber of Mines Research Organisation. The research organisation that employed Etsko at the time was funded by the gold mining members of the South African Chamber of Mines. It was constituted by a number of laboratories that focused on research in support of the gold mining industry.

Most of these laboratories  focused on technical research applicable to deep level mines such as ventilation, rock mechanics, explosive science and so on. However, the Chamber did have a laboratory that they used to refer to as the “Human Resources Laboratory”. The Human Resources Laboratory, or “HRL”, specifically focused on people issues in the industry. It was this laboratory that employed Etsko as a young Social Anthropologist. The Chamber employed Etsko specifically to explore what they referred to as “the human problem on mines”.

Research into conflict on South African mines.

The project that Etsko contributed to when he first joined the HRL focused on conflict. This work was primarily historical in character and was concerned with documenting conflict as it developed in the industry. Etsko and his HRL colleagues would go to mines that had experienced some conflict incident and would interview everyone associated with the incident. They would then send an incident report to the mine and charge the mine for it.

By 1984 the mining industry was becoming resistant to having to pay for this work. The industry was resistant precisely because the research was historical in character. Managers at the time did not want to be told about what conflicts had arisen in the industry; or how many people were killed in those incidents. They did not find this information particularly helpful.

Rather, managers on mines were far more interested in knowing if they could expect a conflict on their mine in the future. In other words, mine managers wanted a predictive tool that informed them of when conflict was imminent. Armed with this information, mine managers could then something proactive about conflict and hopefully prevent violence. These were, after all, highly charged and conflict ridden political times in South Africa.

Designing an instrument that predicts conflict

It was to this end that the HRL asked Etsko to develop an instrument that would measure the climate of employee opinion on a mine. More specifically, the HRL wanted Etsko to design a dipstick that they could implement in mines where management suspected that there may be an conflict brewing.  Etsko ran with the idea with an eye to developing an instrument that could suggest remedial measures to toxic industrial relations.

Ultimately, Etsko developed an instrument that looked at a range of factors. But, fundamentally, his instrument focused on the issue of trust in management. He assumed at the time that if employees trusted their managers, then the climate of employee opinion was basically healthy.

The Care and Growth Leadership Model and resolving conflict

By the end of 1987, Etsko and his colleagues had applied this instrument on a number of operations through the industry.  Off the back of this, the research team had developed a number of key insights that accounted for employee commitment and engagement. The HRL then instructed Etsko to develop a remedial model.

Etsko harnessed the insights coming out of the research to develop what we now know as the Care & Growth Leadership Model. Care & Growth, as a remedial approach, was then successfully tested on a number of mines between 1988 and 1989. By the end of 1989, Etsko and his colleagues had conducted research on 37 shafts in the industry. This research involved just less than 10000 employees. This extensive research gave us the Care & Growth Model.

Taking the Care and Growth Leadership Model international

By this time Etsko had become convinced that the insights gained from this primary research were universally applicable. Etsko now had the unshakeable conviction that the insights that were used to help conflict ridden South African gold mines had a contribution to make to the rest of the world. On the back of this conviction, Etsko decided to take the leap of faith required to fly the ideas. So, he left the chamber of mines to apply the Care and Growth leadership model in other contexts. Since that time the Care and Growth leadership model has been applied in over 27 countries on 5 continents. It has transformed organisations that are as diverse as large mobile operators and small agribusiness operations.

In every instance we have vindicated the key insights that emerged in the original research at the chamber of mines. We are now more convinced than ever that we have the key to organisational success. More fundamentally, we believe that we have the key to understanding human success. Surprisingly, the key is located in your Intent!

If you want to exponentially expand your leadership understanding, I would recommend that you read Leadership: The Care and Growth Model

Otherwise, connect with us on our LinkedIn Group

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