Submit an evaluation of at least four leadership theories in the form of a properly formatted, APA-compliant taxonomy table. For each of the theories you select, you should include the following:
- The name of the theory
- The year the theory was introduced
- The theorist/author
- Key components of the theory
For each theory presented, be sure to include a minimum of two references to peer-reviewed, scholarly resources, as well as appropriate in-text citations.
Note: Be sure to use the Leadership Theory Taxonomy Template to complete this Assignment.
Northouse, P. G. (2016). Leadership: Theory and practice(7th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
· Chapter 7, “Leader–Member Exchange Theory” (pp. 137–160)
· Chapter 9, “Authentic Leadership” (pp. 200–224)
· Chapter 10, “Servant Leadership” (pp. 225–256)
Leadership theory taxonomy
Theory Year Introduced Theorist/Author Key Components
|Servant Leadership||1970||Robert Greenleaf||Leaders should be attentive, empathetic, and nurturing; putting and empowering followers first allows followers to achieve more (Greenleaf, 2012).|
Greenleaf, R. K. (2012). Servant leadership: A journey into the nature of legitimate power and greatness (25th Anniversary ed. ed.). Mahwah, New Jersey: Paulist Press.
10 Servant Leadership
Servant leadership is a paradox—an approach to leadership that runs counter to common sense. Our everyday images of leadership do not coincide with leaders being servants. Leaders influence, and servants follow. How can leadership be both service and influence? How can a person be a leader and a servant at the same time? Although servant leadership seems contradictory and challenges our traditional beliefs about leadership, it is an approach that offers a unique perspective.
Servant leadership, which originated in the writings of Greenleaf (1970, 1972, 1977), has been of interest to leadership scholars for more than 40 years. Until recently, little empirical research on servant leadership has appeared in established peer-reviewed journals. Most of the academic and nonacademic writing on the topic has been prescriptive, focusing on how servant leadership should ideally be, rather than descriptive, focusing on what servant leadership actually is in practice (van Dierendonck, 2011). However, in the past 10 years, multiple publications have helped to clarify servant leadership and substantiate its basic assumptions.
Everyday Servant Leadership
Similar to earlier leadership theories discussed in this book (e.g., skills approach and behavioral approach), servant leadership is an approach focusing on leadership from the point of view of the leader and his or her behaviors. Servant leadership emphasizes that leaders be attentive to the concerns of their followers, empathize with them, and nurture them. Servant leaders put followers first, empower them, and help them develop their full personal capacities. Furthermore, servant leaders are ethical (see Chapter 13, “Leadership Ethics,” for an extended discussion of this topic) and lead in ways that serve the greater good of the organization, community, and society at large.
Servant Leadership Defined
What is servant leadership? Scholars have addressed this approach from many different perspectives resulting in a variety of definitions of servant leadership. Greenleaf (1970) provides the most frequently referenced definition:
[Servant leadership] begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. . . . The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant—first to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served. The best test . . . is: do those served grow as persons; do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society; will they benefit, or, at least, will they not be further deprived? (p. 15)
Although complex, this definition sets forth the basic ideas of servant leadership that have been highlighted by current scholars. Servant leaders place the good of followers over their own self-interests and emphasize follower development (Hale & Fields, 2007). They demonstrate strong moral behavior toward followers (Graham, 1991; Walumbwa, Hartnell, & Oke, 2010), the organization, and other stakeholders (Ehrhart, 2004). Practicing servant leadership comes more naturally for some than others, but everyone can learn to be a servant leader (Spears, 2010). Although servant leadership is sometimes treated by others as a trait, in our discussion, servant leadership is viewed as a behavior.
Historical Basis of Servant Leadership
Robert K. Greenleaf coined the term servant leadership and is the author of the seminal works on the subject. Greenleaf’s persona and writings have significantly influenced how servant leadership has developed on the practical and theoretical level. He founded the Center for Applied Ethics in 1964, now the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership, which provides a clearinghouse and focal point for research and writing on servant leadership.
Being a Servant Leader
Serving on Southwest
Greenleaf worked for 40 years at AT&T and, after retiring, began exploring how institutions function and how they could better serve society. He was intrigued by issues of power and authority and how individuals in organizations could creatively support each other. Decidedly against coercive leadership, Greenleaf advocated using communication to build consensus in groups.
Greenleaf credits his formulation of servant leadership to Hermann Hesse’s (1956) novel The Journey to the East. It tells the story of a group of travelers on a mythical journey who are accompanied by a servant who does menial chores for the travelers but also sustains them with his spirits and song. The servant’s presence has an extraordinary impact on the group. When the servant becomes lost and disappears from the group, the travelers fall into disarray and abandon the journey. Without the servant, they are unable to carry on. It was the servant who was ultimately leading the group, emerging as a leader through his selfless care of the travelers.
In addition to serving, Greenleaf states that a servant leader has a social responsibility to be concerned about the “have-nots” and those less privileged. If inequalities and social injustices exist, a servant leader tries to remove them (Graham, 1991). In becoming a servant leader, a leader uses less institutional power and control while shifting authority to those who are being led. Servant leadership values community because it provides a face-to-face opportunity for individuals to experience interdependence, respect, trust, and individual growth (Greenleaf, 1970).
Ten Characteristics of a Servant Leader
In an attempt to clarify servant leadership for practitioners, Spears (2002) identified 10 characteristics in Greenleaf’s writings that are central to the development of servant leadership. Together, these characteristics comprise the first model or conceptualization of servant leadership.
1. Listening. Communication between leaders and followers is an interactive process that includes sending and receiving messages (i.e., talking and listening). Servant leaders communicate by listening first. They recognize that listening is a learned discipline that involves hearing and being receptive to what others have to say. Through listening, servant leaders acknowledge the viewpoint of followers and validate these perspectives.
2. Empathy. Empathy is “standing in the shoes” of another person and attempting to see the world from that person’s point of view. Empathetic servant leaders demonstrate that they truly understand what followers are thinking and feeling. When a servant leader shows empathy, it is confirming and validating for the follower. It makes the follower feel unique.
Unexpected Servant Leaders
3. Healing. To heal means to make whole. Servant leaders care about the personal well-being of their followers. They support followers by helping them overcome personal problems. Greenleaf argues that the process of healing is a two-way street—in helping followers become whole, servant leaders themselves are healed.
4. Awareness. For Greenleaf, awareness is a quality within servant leaders that makes them acutely attuned and receptive to their physical, social, and political environments. It includes understanding oneself and the impact one has on others. With awareness, servant leaders are able to step aside and view themselves and their own perspectives in the greater context of the situation.
5. Persuasion. Persuasion is clear and persistent communication that convinces others to change. As opposed to coercion, which utilizes positional authority to force compliance, persuasion creates change through the use of gentle nonjudgmental argument. According to Spears (2002), Greenleaf’s emphasis on persuasion over coercion is perhaps related to his denominational affiliation with the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).
6. Conceptualization. Conceptualization refers to an individual’s ability to be a visionary for an organization, providing a clear sense of its goals and direction. This characteristic goes beyond day-to-day operational thinking to focus on the “big picture.” Conceptualization also equips servant leaders to respond to complex organizational problems in creative ways, enabling them to deal with the intricacies of the organization in relationship to its long-term goals.
7. Foresight. Foresight encompasses a servant leader’s ability to know the future. It is an ability to predict what is coming based on what is occurring in the present and what has happened in the past. For Greenleaf, foresight has an ethical dimension because he believes leaders should be held accountable for any failures to anticipate what reasonably could be foreseen and to act on that understanding.
8. Stewardship. Stewardship is about taking responsibility for the leadership role entrusted to the leader. Servant leaders accept the responsibility to carefully manage the people and organization they have been given to lead. In addition, they hold the organization in trust for the greater good of society.
9. Commitment to the growth of people. Greenleaf’s conceptualization of servant leadership places a premium on treating each follower as a unique person with intrinsic value that goes beyond his or her tangible contributions to the organization. Servant leaders are committed to helping each person in the organization grow personally and professionally. Commitment can take many forms, including providing followers with opportunities for career development, helping them develop new work skills, taking a personal interest in the their ideas, and involving them in decision making (Spears, 2002).
10. Building community. Servant leadership fosters the development of community. A community is a collection of individuals who have shared interests and pursuits and feel a sense of unity and relatedness. Community allows followers to identify with something greater than themselves that they value. Servant leaders build community to provide a place where people can feel safe and connected with others, but are still allowed to express their own individuality.
These 10 characteristics of servant leadership represent Greenleaf’s seminal work on the servant as leader. They provide a creative lens from which to view the complexities of servant leadership.
Building a Theory About Servant Leadership
For more than three decades after Greenleaf’s original writings, servant leadership remained a set of loosely defined characteristics and normative principles. In this form it was widely accepted as a leadership approach, rather than a theory, that has strong heuristic and practical value. Praise for servant leadership came from a wide range of well-known leadership writers, including Bennis (2002), Blanchard and Hodges (2003), Covey (2002), DePree (2002), Senge (2002), and Wheatley (2002). At the same time, servant leadership was adopted as a guiding philosophy in many well-known organizations such as The Toro Company, Herman Miller, Synovus Financial Corporation, ServiceMaster, Men’s Wearhouse, Southwest Airlines, and TDIndustries (Spears, 2002). Although novel and paradoxical, the basic ideas and prescriptions of servant leadership resonated with many as an ideal way to run an organization.
More recently, researchers have begun to examine the conceptual underpinnings of servant leadership in an effort to build a theory about it. These studies have resulted in a wide array of models that describe servant leadership using a multitude of variables. For example, Russell and Stone (2002) developed a practical model of servant leadership that contained 20 attributes, nine functional characteristics (distinctive behaviors observed in the workplace), and 11 accompanying characteristics that augment these behaviors. Similarly, Patterson (2003) created a value-based model of servant leadership that distinguished seven constructs that characterize the virtues and shape the behaviors of servant leaders.
Servant Leadership Framework
SOURCE: Adapted from van Dierendonck, D. (2011). Servant leadership: A review and syntheses. Journal of Management, 37(4), 1228–1261.
Other conceptualizations of servant leadership have emerged from researchers’ efforts to develop and validate instruments to measure the core dimensions of the servant leadership process. Table 10.1 provides a summary of some of these studies, illustrating clearly the extensiveness of characteristics related to servant leadership. This table also exhibits the lack of agreement among researchers on what specific characteristics define servant leadership. While some of the studies include common characteristics, such as humility or empowerment, none of the studies conceptualize servant leadership in exactly the same way. In addition, Table 10.1 demonstrates how servant leadership is treated as a trait phenomenon (e.g., courage, humility) in some studies while other researchers regard it as a behavioral process (e.g., serving and developing others). Although scholars are not in agreement regarding the primary attributes of servant leadership, these studies provide the groundwork necessary for the development of a refined model of servant leadership.
Model of Servant Leadership
This chapter presents a servant leadership model based on Liden, Wayne, Zhao, and Henderson (2008) and Liden, Panaccio, Hu, and Meuser (2014) that has three main components: antecedent conditions, servant leader behaviors, and leadership outcomes (Figure 10.1). The model is intended to clarify the phenomenon of servant leadership and provide a framework for understanding its complexities.
As shown on the left side of Figure 10.1, three antecedent, or existing, conditions have an impact on servant leadership: context and culture, leader attributes, and follower receptivity. These conditions are not inclusive of all the conditions that affect servant leadership, but do represent some factors likely to influence the leadership process.
Context and Culture.
Servant leadership does not occur in a vacuum but occurs within a given organizational context and a particular culture. The nature of each of these affects the way servant leadership is carried out. For example, in health care and nonprofit settings, the norm of caring is more prevalent, while for Wall Street corporations it is more common to have competition as an operative norm. Because the norms differ, the ways servant leadership is performed may vary.
Dimensions of culture (see Chapter 16, “Culture and Leadership”) will also influence servant leadership. For example, in cultures where power distance is low (e.g., Nordic Europe) and power is shared equally among people at all levels of society, servant leadership may be more common. In cultures with low humane orientation (e.g., Germanic Europe), servant leadership may present more of a challenge. The point is that cultures influence the way servant leadership is able to be achieved.
Figure 10.1 Model of Servant Leadership
SOURCE: Adapted from Liden, R. C., Panaccio, A., Hu, J., & Meuser, J. D. (2014). Servant leadership: Antecedents, consequences, and contextual moderators. In D. V. Day (Ed.), The Oxford handbook of leadership and organizations. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press; and van Dierendonck, D. (2011). Servant leadership: A review and syntheses. Journal of Management, 37(4), 1228–1261.
As in any leadership situation, the qualities and disposition of the leader influence the servant leadership process. Individuals bring their own traits and ideas about leading to leadership situations. Some may feel a deep desire to serve or are strongly motivated to lead. Others may be driven by a sense of higher calling (Sendjaya, Sarros, & Santora, 2008). These dispositions shape how individuals demonstrate servant leadership. In addition, people differ in areas such as moral development, emotional intelligence, and self-determinedness, and these traits interact with their ability to engage in servant leadership.
The Ripple Effect
Antecedents of Servant Leadership
The receptivity of followers is a factor that appears to influence the impact of servant leadership on outcomes such as personal and organizational job performance. Follower receptivity concerns the question “Do all followers show a desire for servant leadership?” Research suggests the answer may be no. Some followers do not want to work with servant leaders. They equate servant leadership with micromanagement, and report that they do not want their leader to get to know them or try to help, develop, or guide them (Liden, Wayne, et al., 2008). Similarly, Meuser, Liden, Wayne, and Henderson (2011) found empirical evidence showing that when servant leadership was matched with followers who desired it, this type of leadership had a positive impact on performance and organizational citizenship behavior. The opposite was seen when there was no match between servant leadership and the desire of followers for it. It appears that, for some followers, servant leadership has a positive impact and, for others, servant leadership is not effective.
Servant Leader Behaviors
The middle component of Figure 10.1 identifies seven servant leader behaviors that are the core of the servant leadership process. These behaviors emerged from Liden, Wayne, et al.’s (2008) vigorous efforts to develop and validate a measure of servant leadership. The findings from their research provide evidence for the soundness of viewing servant leadership as a multidimensional process. Collectively, these behaviors are the central focus of servant leadership. Individually, each behavior makes a unique contribution.
Conceptualizing refers to the servant leader’s thorough understanding of the organization—its purposes, complexities, and mission. This capacity allows servant leaders to think through multifaceted problems, to know if something is going wrong, and to address problems creatively in accordance with the overall goals of the organization.
For example, Kate Simpson, a senior nursing supervisor in an emergency room of a large hospital, uses conceptualizing to lead her department. She fully understands the mission of the hospital and, at the same time, knows how to effectively manage staff on a day-to-day basis. Her staff members say Kate has a sixth sense about what is best for people. She is known for her wisdom in dealing with difficult patients and helping staff diagnose complex medical problems. Her abilities, competency, and value as a servant leader earned her the hospital’s Caregiver of the Year Award.
Servant Leader Beginnings
Emotional healing involves being sensitive to the personal concerns and well-being of others. It includes recognizing others’ problems and being willing to take the time to address them. Servant leaders who exhibit emotional healing make themselves available to others, stand by them, and provide them with support.
Emotional healing is apparent in the work of Father John, a much sought-after hospice priest on Chicago’s South Side. Father John has a unique approach to hospice patients: He doesn’t encourage, give advice, or read Scripture. Instead he simply listens to them. “When you face death, the only important thing in life is relationships,” he says. “I practice the art of standing by. I think it is more important to come just to be there than to do anything else.”
Putting Followers First.
Putting others first is the sine qua non of servant leadership—the defining characteristic. It means using actions and words that clearly demonstrate to followers that their concerns are a priority, including placing followers’ interests and success ahead of those of the leader. It may mean a leader breaks from his or her own tasks to assist followers with theirs.
Dr. Autumn Klein, a widely published health education professor at a major research university, is responsible for several ongoing large interdisciplinary public health studies. Although she is the principal investigator on these studies, when multiauthored articles are submitted for publication, Dr. Klein puts the names of other researchers before her own. She chooses to let others be recognized because she knows it will benefit them in their annual performance reviews. She puts the success of her colleagues ahead of her own interests.
Helping Followers Grow and Succeed.
This behavior refers to knowing followers’ professional or personal goals and helping them to accomplish those aspirations. Servant leaders make followers’ career development a priority, including mentoring followers and providing them with support. At its core, helping followers grow and succeed is about aiding these individuals to become self-actualized, reaching their fullest human potential.
Community Health Nursing
An example of how a leader helps others grow and succeed is Mr. Yon Kim, a high school orchestra teacher who consistently receives praise from parents for his outstanding work with students. Mr. Kim is a skilled violinist with high musical standards, but he does not let that get in the way of helping each student, from the most highly accomplished to the least capable. Students like Mr. Kim because he listens to them and treats them as adults. He gives feedback without being judgmental. Many of his former students have gone on to become music majors. They often visit Mr. Kim to let him know how important he was to them. Yon Kim is a servant leader who helps students grow through his teaching and guidance.
Behaving ethically is doing the right thing in the right way. It is holding to strong ethical standards, including being open, honest, and fair with followers. Servant leaders do not compromise their ethical principles in order to achieve success.
An example of ethical behavior is how CEO Elizabeth Angliss responded when one of her employees brought her a copy of a leaked document from their company’s chief competitor, outlining its plans to go after some of Angliss’s largest customers. Although she knew the document undoubtedly had valuable information, she shredded it instead of reading it. She then called the rival CEO and told him she had received the document and wanted him to be aware that he might have a security issue within his company. “I didn’t know if what I received was real or not,” she explains. “But it didn’t matter. If it was the real thing, someone on his end did something wrong, and my company wasn’t going to capitalize on that.”
Empowering refers to allowing followers the freedom to be independent, make decisions on their own, and be self-sufficient. It is a way for leaders to share power with followers by allowing them to have control. Empowerment builds followers’ confidence in their own capacities to think and act on their own because they are given the freedom to handle difficult situations in the way they feel is best.
For example, a college professor teaching a large lecture class empowers two teaching assistants assigned to him by letting them set their own office hours, independently grade student papers, and practice teaching by giving one of the weekly class lectures. They become confident in their teaching abilities and bring new ideas to the professor to try in the classroom.
Creating Value for the Community.
Servant leaders create value for the community by consciously and intentionally giving back to the community. They are involved in local activities and encourage followers to also volunteer for community service. Creating value for the community is one way for leaders to link the purposes and goals of an organization with the broader purposes of the community.
An example of creating value for the community can be seen in the leadership of Mercedes Urbanez, principal of Alger High School. Alger is an alternative high school in a midsize community with three other high schools. Mercedes’s care and concern for students at Alger is remarkable. Ten percent of Alger’s students have children, so the school provides on-site day care. Fifteen percent of the students are on probation, and Alger is often their last stop before dropping out entirely and resuming criminal activities. While the other schools in town foster competition and push advanced placement courses, Alger focuses on removing the barriers that keep its students from excelling and offers courses that provide what its students need including multimedia skills, reading remediation, and parenting.
Under Mercedes, Alger High School is a model alternative school appreciated at every level in the community. Students, who have failed in other schools, find they have a safe place to go where they are accepted and adults try to help them solve their problems. Law enforcement supports the school’s efforts to help these students get back into the mainstream of society and away from crime. The other high schools in the community know that Alger provides services they find difficult to provide. Mercedes Urbanez serves the have-nots in the community, and the whole community reaps the benefits.
Although servant leadership focuses primarily on leader behaviors, it is also important to examine the potential outcomes of servant leadership. The outcomes of servant leadership are follower performance and growth, organizational performance, and societal impact(see Figure 10.1). As Greenleaf highlighted in his original work (1970), the central goal of servant leadership is to create healthy organizations that nurture individual growth, strengthen organizational performance, and, in the end, produce a positive impact on society.
Follower Performance and Growth.
In the model of servant leadership, most of the servant leader behaviors focus directly on recognizing followers’ contributions and helping them realize their human potential. The expected outcome for followers is greater self-actualization. That is, followers will realize their full capabilities when leaders nurture them, help them with their personal goals, and give them control.
Servant Leadership Review
Another outcome of servant leadership, suggested by Meuser et al. (2011), is that it will have a favorable impact on follower in-role performance—the way followers do their assigned work. When servant leaders were matched with followers who were open to this type of leadership, the results were positive. Followers became more effective at accomplishing their jobs and fulfilling their job descriptions.
Finally, another expected result of servant leadership is that followers themselves may become servant leaders. Greenleaf’s conceptualization of servant leadership hypothesizes that when followers receive caring and empowerment from ethical leaders they, in turn, will likely begin treating others in this way. Servant leadership would produce a ripple effect in which servant leaders create more servant leaders. Further research is needed, however, to test this hypothesis.
In addition to positively affecting followers and their performance, initial research has shown that servant leadership has an influence on organizational performance. Several studies have found a positive relationship between servant leadership and organizational citizenship behaviors (OCBs), which are follower behaviors that go beyond the basic requirements of their duties and help the overall functioning of the organization (Ehrhart, 2004; Liden, Wayne, et al., 2008; Neubert, Kacmar, Carlson, Chonko, & Roberts, 2008; Walumbwa et al., 2010).
Servant leadership also affects the way organizational teams function. Hu and Liden (2011) found that servant leadership enhanced team effectiveness by increasing the members’ shared confidence that they could be effective as a work group. Furthermore, their results showed that servant leadership contributed positively to team potency by enhancing group process and clarity. However, when servant leadership was absent, team potency decreased, despite clearer goals. In essence, it frustrates people to know exactly what the goal is, but not get the support needed to accomplish the goal.
Current research on organizational outcomes is in its initial stages. Further study is needed to substantiate the direct and indirect ways that servant leadership is related to organizational performance.
Cultural Servant Leadership
Another outcome expected of servant leadership is that it is likely to have a positive impact on society. Although societal impact is not commonly measured in studies of servant leadership, there are examples of servant leadership’s impact that are highly visible. One example we are all familiar with is the work of Mother Teresa whose years of service for the hungry, homeless, and unwanted resulted in the creation of a new religious order, the Missionaries of Charity. This order now has more than 1 million workers in over 40 countries that operate hospitals, schools, and hospices for the poor. Mother Teresa’s servant leadership has had an extraordinary impact on society throughout the world.
In the business world, an example of the societal impact of servant leadership can be observed at Southwest Airlines (see Case 10.3). Leaders at Southwest instituted an “others first” organizational philosophy in the management of the company, which starts with how it treats its employees. This philosophy is adhered to by those employees who themselves become servant leaders in regards to the airline’s customers. Because the company thrives, it impacts society by providing jobs in the communities it serves and, to a lesser extent, by providing the customers who rely on it with transportation.
In his conceptualization of servant leadership, Greenleaf did not frame the process as one that was intended to directly change society. Rather, he visualizes leaders who become servants first and listen to others and help them grow. As a result, their organizations are healthier, ultimately benefiting society. In this way, the long-term outcomes of putting others first include positive social change and helping society flourish.
Summary of the Model of Servant Leadership
In summary, the model of servant leadership consists of three components: antecedent conditions, servant leader behaviors, and outcomes. The central focus of the model is the seven behaviors of leaders that foster servant leadership: conceptualizing, emotional healing, putting followers first, helping followers grow and succeed, behaving ethically, empowering, and creating value for the community. These behaviors are influenced by context and culture, the leader’s attributes, and the followers’ receptivity to this kind of leadership. When individuals engage in servant leadership, it is likely to improve outcomes at the individual, organizational, and societal levels.
Iron Man Helps the Homeless
How Does Servant Leadership Work?
The servant leadership approach works differently than many of the prior theories we have discussed in this book. For example, it is unlike the trait approach (Chapter 2), which emphasizes that leaders should have certain specific traits. It is also unlike path–goal theory (Chapter 6), which lays out principles regarding what style of leadership is needed in various situations. Instead, servant leadership focuses on the behaviors leaders should exhibit to put followers first and to support followers’ personal development. It is concerned with how leaders treat followers and the outcomes that are likely to emerge.
So what is the mechanism that explains how servant leadership works? It begins when leaders commit themselves to putting their followers first, being honest with them, and treating them fairly. Servant leaders make it a priority to listen to their followers and develop strong long-term relationships with them. This allows leaders to understand the abilities, needs, and goals of followers, which, in turn, allows these followers to achieve their full potential. When many leaders in an organization adopt a servant leadership orientation, a culture of serving others within and outside the organization is created (Liden, Wayne, et al., 2008).
Servant leadership works best when leaders are altruistic and have a strong motivation and deep-seated interest in helping others. In addition, for successful servant leadership to occur, it is important that followers are open and receptive to servant leaders who want to empower them and help them grow.
It should be noted that in much of the writing on servant leadership there is an underlying philosophical position, originally set forth by Greenleaf (1970), that leaders should be altruistic and humanistic. Rather than using their power to dominate others, leaders should make every attempt to share their power and enable others to grow and become autonomous. Leadership framed from this perspective downplays competition in the organization and promotes egalitarianism.
Finally, in an ideal world, servant leadership results in community and societal change. Individuals within an organization who care for each other become committed to developing an organization that cares for the community. Organizations that adopt a servant leadership culture are committed to helping those in need who operate outside of the organization. Servant leadership extends to serving the “have-nots” in society (Graham, 1991). Case 10.2 in this chapter provides a striking example of how one servant leader’s work led to positive outcomes for many throughout the world.
In its current stage of development, research on servant leadership has made several positive contributions to the field of leadership. First, while there are other leadership approaches such as transformational and authentic leadership that include an ethical dimension, servant leadership is unique in the way it makes altruism the central component of the leadership process. Servant leadership argues unabashedly that leaders should put followers first, share control with followers, and embrace their growth. It is the only leadership approach that frames the leadership process around the principle of caring for others.
Second, servant leadership provides a counterintuitive and provocative approach to the use of influence, or power, in leadership. Nearly all other theories of leadership treat influence as a positive factor in the leadership process, but servant leadership does just the opposite. It argues that leaders should not dominate, direct, or control; but rather, leaders should share control and influence. To give up control rather than seek control is the goal of servant leadership. Servant leadership is an influence process that does not incorporate influence in a traditional way.
Third, rather than imply that servant leadership is a panacea, research on servant leadership has shown there are conditions under which servant leadership is not a preferred kind of leadership. Findings indicate that servant leadership may not be effective in contexts where followers are not open to being guided, supported, and empowered. Followers’ readiness to receive servant leadership moderates the potential usefulness of leading from this approach (Liden, Wayne, et al., 2008).
Fourth, recent research has resulted in a sound measure of servant leadership. Using a rigorous methodology, Liden, Wayne, et al. (2008) developed and validated the Servant Leadership Questionnaire (SLQ), which appears at the end of the chapter. It comprises 28 items that identify seven distinct dimensions of servant leadership. Studies show that the SLQ is unique and measures aspects of leadership that are different from those measured by the transformational and leader–member exchange theories (Liden, Wayne, et al., 2008; Schaubroeck, Lam, & Peng, 2011). The SLQ has proved to be a suitable instrument for use in future research on servant leadership.
In addition to the positive features of servant leadership, this approach has several limitations. First, the paradoxical nature of the title “servant leadership” creates semantic noise that diminishes the potential value of the approach. Because the name appears contradictory, servant leadership is prone to be perceived as fanciful or whimsical. In addition, being a servant leader implies following, and following is viewed as the opposite of leading. Although servant leadership incorporates influence, the mechanism of how influence functions as a part of servant leadership is not fully explicated in the approach.
Second, there is debate among servant leadership scholars regarding the core dimensions of the process. As illustrated in Table 10.1, servant leadership is hypothesized to include a multitude of abilities, traits, and behaviors. To date, researchers have been unable to reach consensus on a common definition or theoretical framework for servant leadership (van Dierendonck, 2011). Until a larger body of findings is published on servant leadership, the robustness of theoretical formulations about it will remain limited.
Third, a large segment of the writing on servant leadership has a prescriptive overtone that implies that good leaders “put others first.” While advocating an altruistic approach to leadership is commendable, it has a utopian ring because it conflicts with individual autonomy and other principles of leadership such as directing, concern for production, goal setting, and creating a vision (Gergen, 2006). Furthermore, along with the “value-push” prescriptive quality, there is an almost moralistic nature that seems to surround servant leadership. As a result, many practitioners of servant leadership are not necessarily researchers who want to conduct studies to test the validity of servant leadership theory.
Finally, it is unclear why “conceptualizing” is included as one of the servant leadership behaviors in the model of servant leadership (see Figure 10.1). Is conceptualizing actually a behavior, or is it a cognitive ability? Furthermore, what is the rationale for identifying conceptualizing as a determinant of servant leadership? Being able to conceptualize is undoubtedly an important cognitive capacity in all kinds of leadership, but why is it a defining characteristic of servant leadership? A clearer explanation for its central role in servant leadership needs to be addressed in future research.
Servant leadership can be applied at all levels of management and in all types of organizations. Within a philosophical framework of caring for others, servant leadership sets forth a list of behaviors that individuals can engage in if they want to be servant leaders. The prescribed behaviors of servant leadership are not esoteric; they are easily understood and generally applicable to a variety of leadership situations.
Unlike leader–member exchange theory (Chapter 7) or authentic leadership (Chapter 9), which are not widely used in training and development, servant leadership has been used extensively in a variety of organizations for more than 30 years. Many organizations in the Fortune 500 (e.g., Starbucks, AT&T, Southwest Airlines, and Vanguard Group) employ ideas from servant leadership. Training in servant leadership typically involves self-assessment exercises, educational sessions, and goal setting. The content of servant leadership is straightforward and accessible to followers at every level within the organization.
Liden, Wayne, et al. (2008) suggest that organizations that want to build a culture of servant leadership should be careful to select people who are interested in and capable of building long-term relationships with followers. Furthermore, because “behaving ethically” is positively related to job performance, organizations should focus on selecting people who have high integrity and strong ethics. In addition, organizations should develop training programs that spend time helping leaders develop their emotional intelligence, ethical decision making, and skills for empowering others. Behaviors such as these will help leaders nurture followers to their full potential.
Servant leadership is taught at many colleges and universities around the world and is the focus of numerous independent coaches, trainers, and consultants. In the United States, Gonzaga University and Regent University are recognized as prominent leaders in this area because of the academic attention they have given to servant leadership. Overall, the most recognized and comprehensive center for training in servant leadership is the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership (www.greenleaf.org).
In summary, servant leadership provides a philosophy and set of behaviors that individuals in the organizational setting can learn and develop. The following section features cases illustrating how servant leadership has been manifested in different ways.
Emotional Intelligence in Servant Leaders
This section provides three case studies (Cases 10.1, 10.2, and 10.3) that illustrate different facets of servant leadership. The first case describes the servant leadership of a high school secretary. The second case is about Dr. Paul Farmer and his efforts to stop disease in Haiti and other parts of the world. The third case is about the leaders of Southwest Airlines who created a servant leadership culture that permeates the company. At the end of each case, several questions are provided to help you analyze the case from the perspective of servant leadership.
Everyone Loves Mrs. Noble
Sharon Noble is in charge of the main office at Essex High School, a position she has held for nearly 30 years. She does not have a college degree, but that does not seem to hinder her work as “secretary” for the school. She is an extravert, and people say her jokes are corny, but she runs the office efficiently and well, getting along with teachers and students and dealing with the rules and procedures that govern day-to-day Essex school life.
When people describe Sharon, they say that she is wise and seems to know just about everything there is to know about the school. She understands the core curriculum, testing, dress code, skip policy, after-school programs, helicopter parents, and much more. If students want to have a bake sale, she tells them the best way to do it. If they want to take Advanced Placement courses, she tells them which ones to take. The list of what she knows is endless. For years parents have told one another, “If you want to know anything about the school, go to Mrs. Noble—she is Essex High School.”
There is nothing pretentious about Mrs. Noble. She drives an old car and wears simple clothes. Students say they’ve never seen her wear makeup. But nevertheless, she is still “with it” when it comes to student fads and eccentricities. When students had long hair and fringed vests in the 1970s, Sharon was cool with it. She never mocks students who are “way out” and seems to even enjoy these students. When students wear clothes to get attention because they feel ostracized, Sharon is accepting and even acknowledges the “uniqueness” of their act, unless it violates the dress code. In those cases, she talks nonjudgmentally with students about their clothing, guiding them to make different choices to stay out of trouble.
Even though it isn’t technically in her job description, Mrs. Noble excels at helping juniors prepare applications for college. She knows all the requirements and deadlines and the materials required by the different universities. She spends hours pushing, nudging, and convincing students to stay on task and get their applications submitted. She doesn’t care if students go to Ivy League schools, state schools, or community colleges; but she does care if they go on to school. Mrs. Noble regrets not having been able to attend college, so it is important to her that “her” students do everything they can to go.
At times her job is challenging. For example, the principal made teaching assignments that the faculty did not like, and Sharon was the one they shared their concerns with. She was a great listener and helped them see the differing perspectives of the situation. One year, when a student was in a car accident and unable to come to school for several months, Sharon personally worked with each one of the student’s teachers to get her assignments, delivered them to the student’s home, and picked them up when they were complete. When the seniors held a dance marathon to raise money for cancer research, it was Sharon who pledged the most, even though she didn’t make very much as the school’s secretary. She wanted to make sure each senior participating had at least one pledge on his or her roster; in most cases it was Sharon’s.
In 2010, the class of 1989 had its 25-year reunion, and of all the memories shared, the most were about Sharon Noble. Essex High School had a wonderful principal, many good teachers, and great coaches, but when alumni were asked, who runs the school? The answer was always “Mrs. Noble.”
1. What servant leader behaviors would you say Mrs. Noble demonstrates?
2. Who are Mrs. Noble’s followers?
3. Based on the model of servant leadership (Figure 10.1), what outcomes has Mrs. Noble’s servant leadership attained?
4. Can you think of someone at a school or organization you were part of who acted like Mrs. Noble? Describe what this person did and how it affected you and the school or organization.
Doctor to the Poor
“Education wasn’t what he wanted to perform on the world . . . He was after transformation.”
—Kidder (2003, p. 44)
When Paul Farmer graduated from Duke University at 22, he was unsure whether he wanted to be an anthropologist or a doctor. So he went to Haiti. As a student, Paul had become obsessed with the island nation after meeting many Haitians at local migrant camps. Paul was used to the grittier side of life; he had grown up in a family of eight that lived in a converted school bus and later on a houseboat moored in a bayou. But what he observed at the migrant camps and learned from his discussions with Haitian immigrants made his childhood seem idyllic.
In Haiti, he volunteered for a small charity called Eye Care Haiti, which conducted outreach clinics in rural areas. He was drawn in by the deplorable conditions and lives of the Haitian people and determined to use his time there to learn everything he could about illness and disease afflicting the poor. Before long, Paul realized that he had found his life’s purpose: He’d be a doctor to poor people, and he’d start in Haiti.
Paul entered Harvard University in 1984 and, for the first two years, traveled back and forth to Haiti where he conducted a health census in the village of Cange. During that time he conceived of a plan to fight disease in Haiti by developing a public health system that included vaccination programs and clean water and sanitation. The heart of this program, however, would be a cadre of people from the villages who were trained to administer medicines, teach health classes, treat minor ailments, and recognize the symptoms of grave illnesses such as HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria.
His vision became reality in 1987, thanks to a wealthy donor who gave $1 million to help Paul create Partners In Health (PIH). At first it wasn’t much of an organization—no staff, a small advisory board, and three committed volunteers. But its work was impressive: PIH began building schools and clinics in and around Cange. Soon PIH established a training program for health outreach workers and organized a mobile unit to screen residents of area villages for preventable diseases.
In 1990, Paul finished his medical studies and became a fellow in infectious diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. He was able to remain in Haiti for most of each year, returning to Boston to work at Brigham for a few months at a time, sleeping in the basement of PIH headquarters.
It wasn’t long before PIH’s successes started gaining attention outside of Haiti. Because of its success treating the disease in Haiti, the World Health Organization appointed Paul and PIH staffer Jim Yong Kim to spearhead pilot treatment programs for multiple-drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB). Paul’s attention was now diverted to the slums of Peru and Russia where cases of MDR-TB were on the rise. In Peru, Paul and PIH encountered barriers in treating MDR-TB that had nothing to do with the disease. They ran headlong into governmental resistance and had to battle to obtain expensive medications. Paul learned to gently navigate governmental obstacles, while the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation stepped in with a $44.7 million grant to help fund the program.
In 2005, PIH turned its attention to another part of the world: Africa, the epicenter of the global AIDS pandemic. Beginning its efforts in Rwanda, where few people had been tested or were receiving treatment, PIH tested 30,000 people in 8 months and enrolled nearly 700 in drug therapy to treat the disease. Soon, the organization expanded its efforts to the African nations of Lesotho and Malawi (Partners In Health, 2011).
But Paul’s efforts weren’t just in far-flung reaches of the world. From his work with patients at Brigham, Paul observed the needs of the impoverished in Boston. The Prevention and Access to Care and Treatment (PACT) project was created to offer drug therapy for HIV and diabetes for the poor residents of the Roxbury and Dorchester districts. PIH has since sent PACT project teams across the United States to provide support to other community health programs.
By 2009, Partners in Health had grown to 13,600 employees working in health centers and hospitals in 8 countries (Partners In Health, 2013), including the Dominican Republic, Peru, Mexico, Rwanda, Lesotho, Malawi, Navajo Nation (U.S.), and Russia. Each year the organization increases the number of facilities and personnel that provide health care to the residents of some of the most impoverished and diseased places in the world. Paul continues to travel around the world, monitoring programs and raising funds for PIH in addition to leading the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School.
1. Would you characterize Paul Farmer as a servant leader? Explain your answer.
2. Putting others first is the essence of servant leadership. In what way does Paul Farmer put others first?
3. Another characteristic of a servant leader is getting followers to serve. Who are Paul’s followers, and how did they become servants to his vision?
4. What role do you think Paul’s childhood had in his development as a servant leader?
Servant Leadership Takes Flight
A young mother traveling with a toddler on a long cross-country flight approached the flight attendant looking rather frantic. Because of weather and an hour-and-a-half wait on the runway to take off, the plane would arrive at its destination several hours late. The plane had made an intermediate stop in Denver to pick up passengers but not long enough for travelers to disembark. The mother told the attendant that with the delays and the long flight, her child had already eaten all the food she brought and if she didn’t feed him soon he was bound to have a total meltdown. “Can I get off for five minutes just to run and get something for him to eat?” she pleaded.
“I have to recommend strongly that you stay on the plane,” the attendant said, sternly. But then, with a smile, she added, “But I can get off. The plane won’t leave without me. What can I get your son to eat?”
Turns out that flight attendant not only got the little boy a meal, but brought four other children on board meals as well. Anyone who has traveled in a plane with screaming children knows that this flight attendant not only took care of some hungry children and frantic parents, but also indirectly saw to the comfort of a planeload of other passengers.
This story doesn’t surprise anyone familiar with Southwest Airlines. The airline’s mission statement is posted every 3 feet at all Southwest locations: Follow the Golden Rule—treat people the way you want to be treated.
It’s a philosophy that the company takes to heart and begins with how it treats employees. Colleen Barrett, the former president of Southwest Airlines, says the company’s cofounder and her mentor, Herb Kelleher, was adamant that “a happy and motivated workforce will essentially extend that goodwill to Southwest’s customers” (Knowledge@Wharton, 2008). If the airline took care of its employees, the employees would take care of the customers, and the shareholders would win, too.
From the first days of Southwest Airlines, Herb resisted establishing traditional hierarchies within the company. He focused on finding employees with substance, willing to say what they thought and committed to doing things differently. Described as “an egalitarian spirit,” he employed a collaborative approach to management that involved his associates at every step.
Colleen, who went from working as Herb’s legal secretary to being the president of the airline, is living proof of his philosophy. A poor girl from rural Vermont who got the opportunity of a lifetime to work for Herb when he was still just a lawyer, she rose from his aide to become vice president of administration, then executive vice president of customers, and then president and chief operating officer in 2001 (which she stepped down from in 2008). She had no formal training in aviation, but that didn’t matter. Herb “always treated me as a complete equal to him,” she says.
It was Colleen who instituted the Golden Rule as the company motto and developed a model that focuses on employee satisfaction and issues first, followed by the needs of the passengers. The company hired employees for their touchy-feely attitudes and trained them for skill. Southwest Airlines developed a culture that celebrated and encouraged humor. The example of being themselves on the job started at the top with Herb and Colleen.
This attitude has paid off. Southwest Airlines posted a profit for 35 consecutive years and continues to make money while other airlines’ profits are crashing. Colleen says the most important numbers on the balance sheet, however, are those that indicate how many millions of people have become frequent flyers of the airline, a number that grows every year.
1. What type of servant leader behaviors did Herb Kelleher exhibit in starting the airline? What about Colleen Barrett?
2. How do the leaders of Southwest Airlines serve others? What others are they serving?
3. Southwest Airlines emphasizes the Golden Rule. What role does the Golden Rule play in servant leadership? Is it always a part of servant leadership? Discuss.
4. Based on Figure 10.1, describe the outcomes of servant leadership at Southwest Airlines, and how follower receptivity may have influenced those outcomes.
Many questionnaires have been used to measure servant leadership (see Table 10.1). Because of its relevance to the content, the Servant Leadership Questionnaire (SLQ) by Liden, Wayne, et al. (2008) was chosen for inclusion in this chapter. It is a 28-item scale that measures seven major dimensions of servant leadership: conceptualizing, emotional healing, putting followers first, helping followers grow and succeed, behaving ethically, empowering, and creating value for the community. Using exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis, Liden, Wayne, et al. established the multiple dimensions of this scale and described how it is uniquely different from other leadership measures.
By completing the SLQ you will gain an understanding of how servant leadership is measured and explore where you stand on the different dimensions of servant leadership. Servant leadership is a complex process, and taking the SLQ is one way to discover the dynamics of how it works.
Servant Leadership Questionnaire
Instructions: Select two people who know you in a leadership capacity such as a coworker, fellow group member, or follower. Make two copies of this questionnaire and give a copy to each individual you have chosen. Using the following 7-point scale, ask them to indicate the extent to which they agree or disagree with the following statements as they pertain to your leadership. In these statements, “He/She” is referring to you in a leadership capacity.
SOURCE: Reprinted (adapted version) from “Servant Leadership: Development of a Multidimensional Measure and Multi-Level Assessment,” by R. C. Liden, S. J. Wayne, H. Zhao, and D. Henderson, 2008, The Leadership Quarterly, 19, 161–177. Copyright © Reprinted with permission from Elsevier Science.
Using the questionnaires on which others assessed your leadership, take the separate scores for each item, add them together, and divide that sum by two. This will give you the average score for that item. For example, if Person A assessed you at 4 for Item 2, and Person B marked you as a 6, your score for Item 2 would be 5.
Once you have averaged each item’s scores, use the following steps to complete the scoring of the questionnaire:
1. Add up the scores on 1, 8, 15, and 22. This is your score for emotional healing.
2. Add up the scores for 2, 9, 16, and 23. This is your score for creating value for the community.
3. Add up the scores for 3, 10, 17, and 24. This is your score for conceptual skills.
4. Add up the scores for 4, 11, 18, and 25. This is your score for empowering.
5. Add up the scores for 5, 12, 19, and 26. This is your score for helping followers grow and succeed.
6. Add up the scores for 6, 13, 20, and 27. This is your score for putting followers first.
7. Add up the scores for 7, 14, 21, and 28. This is your score for behaving ethically.
· High range: A score between 23 and 28 means you strongly exhibit this servant leadership behavior.
· Moderate range: A score between 14 and 22 means you tend to exhibit this behavior in an average way.
· Low range: A score between 8 and 13 means you exhibit this leadership below the average or expected degree.
· Extremely low range: A score between 0 and 7 means you are not inclined to exhibit this leadership behavior at all.
The scores you received on the Servant Leadership Questionnaire indicate the degree to which you exhibit the seven behaviors characteristic of a servant leader. You can use the results to assess areas in which you have strong servant leadership behaviors and areas in which you may strive to improve.
Originating in the seminal work of Greenleaf (1970), servant leadership is a paradoxical approach to leadership that challenges our traditional beliefs about leadership and influence. Servant leadership emphasizes that leaders should be attentive to the needs of followers, empower them, and help them develop their full human capacities.
Servant leaders make a conscious choice to serve first—to place the good of followers over the leaders’ self-interests. They build strong relationships with others, are empathic and ethical, and lead in ways that serve the greater good of followers, the organization, the community, and society at large.
Based on an idea from Hermann Hesse’s (1956) novel The Journey to the East, Greenleaf argued that the selfless servant in a group has an extraordinary impact on the other members. Servant leaders attend fully to the needs of followers, are concerned with the less privileged, and aim to remove inequalities and social injustices. Because servant leaders shift authority to those who are being led, they exercise less institutional power and control.
Scholars have conceptualized servant leadership in multiple ways. According to Spears (2002), there are 10 major characteristics of servant leadership: listening, empathy, healing, awareness, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, commitment to the growth of people, and building community. Additional efforts by social science researchers to develop and validate measures of servant leadership have resulted in an extensive list of other servant leadership attributes.
Liden, Panaccio, et al. (2014) have created a promising model of servant leadership that has three main components: antecedent conditions, servant leader behaviors, and leadership outcomes. Antecedent conditions that are likely to impact servant leaders include context and culture, leader attributes, and follower receptivity. Central to the servant leader process are the seven servant leader behaviors: conceptualizing, emotional healing, putting followers first, helping followers grow and succeed, behaving ethically, empowering, and creating value for the community. The outcomes of servant leadership are follower performance and growth, organizational performance, and societal impact.
Research on servant leadership has several strengths. First, it is unique because it makes altruism the main component of the leadership process. Second, servant leadership provides a counterintuitive and provocative approach to the use of influence wherein leaders give up control rather than seek control. Third, rather than a panacea, research has shown that there are conditions under which servant leadership is not a preferred kind of leadership. Last, recent research has resulted in a sound measure of servant leadership (Servant Leadership Questionnaire) that identifies seven distinct dimensions of the process.
The servant leadership approach also has limitations. First, the paradoxical nature of the title “servant leadership” creates semantic noise that diminishes the potential value of the approach. Second, no consensus exists on a common theoretical framework for servant leadership. Third, servant leadership has a utopian ring that conflicts with traditional approaches to leadership. Last, it is not clear why “conceptualizing” is a defining characteristic of servant leadership.
Despite the limitations, servant leadership continues to be an engaging approach to leadership that holds much promise. As more research is done to test the substance and assumptions of servant leadership, a better understanding of the complexities of the process will emerge.
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