Education – Cultivating the Next Generation of Leaders

According to a 2024 study by The Outlier, approximately 40% of students who start school do not complete Grade 12. In 2012, 1,208,973 learners began Grade 1, by 2023, only 928,050 of these students had reached Grade 11, and just 740,566 enrolled in Grade 12. This means that 468,407 students—nearly 40%—dropped out along the way. Due to this high dropout rate, some analysts and politicians argue that the actual pass rate is just over 55%. All this in a year where, according to the Department of Basic Education, the Matric Class of 2023 has achieved the highest pass rate in the history of the National Senior Certificate (NSC) examinations, clearly the data being celebrated hides the magnitude of problem facing not only youth but our education system as a whole.

Considering the above as well as the dynamic and ever-evolving landscape of South African education, the concept of transformational leadership is gaining traction as a vital mechanism for nurturing and unleashing young leaders. At the heart of this approach is developing individuals who possess strong character, competence and who excel in collaboration, thereby being able to make a profound impact on their communities and beyond. The KLA King’s Leadership Academy (KLA) offers a comprehensive model that illustrates how educational institutions can effectively raise and release leaders into society.

The Culture Model: Building a Foundation for Leadership

The Kings Leadership Academy (KLA) culture model is pivotal in shaping future leaders. Based on the understanding that if you ‘raise the culture the culture will raise the leader” This model emphasizes three core components: Character, Competence, and Collaboration.

  1. Character: Defined by one’s inner distinctive qualities, character encompasses beliefs, values, and assumptions. It is the bedrock of integrity and resilience. The development of character involves a reflective journey where individuals explore their core values, worldview, and personal identity. Questions such as “What type of leader do I want to be?” encourage deep introspection and self-awareness, which are crucial for authentic leadership.
  2. Competence: This pertains to the outer manifestation of one’s inner qualities. Competence is about the ability to tangibly influence one’s environment through a combination of knowledge, skill, and will. Leaders are trained to apply their capabilities effectively to create meaningful changes, thereby demonstrating their competence.
  3. Collaboration: Leadership does not thrive in isolation. The ability to partner with others to create a positive culture is essential. By fostering collaboration, leaders can leverage diverse perspectives and skills, enriching the leadership process and ensuring inclusive growth.

Core Values: The Pillars of Leadership

The Kings Leadership Academy’s core values—Integrity, Influence, and Identity—are the pillars that support this leadership model.

  • Integrity: Leaders must uphold honesty, ethics, and moral principles in all actions and decisions. Integrity builds trust, reliability, and accountability, essential traits for effective leadership.
  • Influence: By inspiring students to recognize their potential to effect change, KLA fosters a mindset of social responsibility and community engagement. Leaders are equipped with the skills to create positive and sustainable impact.
  • Identity: Embracing individual uniqueness, diversity, and authenticity is crucial. Encouraging self-awareness, self-confidence, and a strong sense of purpose helps students to navigate their leadership journey with clarity and conviction.

The Journey and the Future

The journey of developing young leaders is both reflective and interactive. Students are encouraged to engage deeply with their environment and those around them. By addressing fundamental questions about their identity and values, students build a strong foundation for their leadership journey.

The future envisioned by Kings Leadership Academy is one where leaders possess resilient character, practice inclusive collaboration, and exhibit transformative competence. These leaders are expected to make a significant impact on their communities, driving positive and sustainable change.


Transformational leadership in South African education, as exemplified by the this Kings Leadership Academy model, is a powerful approach to raising and releasing young leaders. By focusing on character, competence, and collaboration, and underpinned by the core values of integrity, influence, and identity, educational institutions can cultivate leaders who are not only prepared to face the challenges of today but are also equipped to drive the positive changes of tomorrow. Through this model, the future of South Africa’s leadership landscape looks promising, with young leaders ready to make a lasting impact on the world.

By Jason Sandows