Compare two different leadership styles.

FROM THE TEXTBOOK “LEADERSHIP- Concepts & practice” By Peter Northouse. Reference. Northhouse, P. (2019). Leading Public Organizations. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. LEADERSHIP STYLES EXPLAINED What behaviors do you exhibit as a leader? Do you like to be in control and keep up on the activities of your followers? Or do you believe in a more hands-off approach in leading others, letting them make decisions on their own? Whatever your behaviors are as a leader, they are indicative of your leadership style. Leadership style is defined as the behaviors of leaders, focusing on what leaders do and how they act. This includes leaders’ actions toward followers in a variety of contexts. As noted in the previous section, your leadership style is driven by your personal leadership philosophy. In the following section, we discuss the most commonly observed leadership styles associated with Theory X and Theory Y: authoritarian, democratic, and laissez-faire. While none of these styles emerges directly from Theory X or Theory Y, the authoritarian and democratic styles closely mirror the ideas set forth in these theories, respectively. The primary work on styles of leadership was by Lewin, Lippitt, and White (1939), who analyzed the impact of various leadership styles on small group behavior. Using groups of 10-year-old boys who met after school to engage in hobby activities, the researchers analyzed what happened when their adult leaders used one of three styles: authoritarian, democratic, or laissez-faire. The groups of boys experienced each of the three styles of leadership for a six-week period. The outcome of the study by Lewin and colleagues was a detailed description of the nature of the leadership behaviors used for each of the three styles (White & Lippitt, 1968). They also described the impact each of these three styles had on group members. The following sections describe and elaborate on their findings and the implications of using each of these leadership styles. Be aware that these styles are not distinct entities (e.g., like personality traits). They overlap each other. That is, a leader can demonstrate more than one style in any given situation. For example, a leader may be authoritarian about some issues and democratic about others, or a leader may be authoritarian at some points during a project and democratic at others. As leaders, we may display aspects of all of these styles. Authoritarian Leadership Style In many ways, the authoritarian leadership style is very similar to Theory X. For example, authoritarian leaders perceive followers as needing direction. The authoritarian leader needs to control followers and what they do. Authoritarian leaders emphasize that they are in charge, exerting influence and control over group members. They determine tasks and procedures for group members but may remain aloof from participating in group discussions. Authoritarian leaders do not encourage communication among group members; instead, they prefer that communication be directed to them. In evaluating others, authoritarian leaders give praise and criticism freely, but it is given based on their own personal standards rather than based on objective criticism. Some have argued that authoritarian leadership represents a rather pessimistic,



negative, and discouraging view of others. For example, an authoritarian leader might say something like “Because my workers are lazy, I need to tell them what to do.” Others would argue that authoritarian leadership is a much-needed form of leadership—it serves a positive purpose, particularly for people who seek security above responsibility. In many contexts, authoritarian leadership is used to give direction, set goals, and structure work. For example, when employees are just learning a new job, authoritarian leadership lets them know the rules and standards for what they are supposed to do. Authoritarian leaders are very efficient and successful in motivating others to accomplish work. In these contexts, authoritarian leadership is very useful. What are the outcomes of authoritarian leadership? Authoritarian leadership has both pluses and minuses. On the positive side, it is efficient and productive. Authoritarian leaders give direction and clarity to people’s work and accomplish more in a shorter period. Furthermore, authoritarian leadership is useful in establishing goals and work standards. On the negative side, it fosters dependence, submissiveness, and a loss of individuality. The creativity and personal growth of followers may be hindered. It is possible that, over time, followers will lose interest in what they are doing and become dissatisfied with their work. If that occurs, authoritarian leadership can create discontent, hostility, and even aggression. In addition, authoritarian leadership can become abusive leadership, where these leaders use their influence, power, and control for their personal interests or to coerce followers to engage in unethical or immoral activities. For example, a coach who withholds playing time from athletes who openly disagree with his play calls or a boss who requires salaried employees to work up to 20 hours of overtime each week or “be replaced with someone who will” are both examples of the dark side of authoritarian leadership. While the negative aspects of authoritarian leadership appear to outweigh the positive, it is not difficult to imagine contexts where authoritarian leadership would be the preferred style of leadership. For example, in a busy hospital emergency room, it may be very appropriate for the leader in charge of triaging patients to be authoritarian with various types of emergencies. The same could be true in other contexts, such as the chaperone of a middle school canoe trip, or the coach of a high school team during the state finals basketball tournament. Despite the negatives of authoritarian leadership, this form of leadership is common and necessary in man situations. Democratic Leadership Style The democratic leadership style strongly resembles the assumptions of Theory Y. Democratic leaders treat followers as fully capable of doing work on their own. Rather than controlling followers, democratic leaders work with followers, trying hard to treat everyone fairly, without putting themselves above followers. In essence, they see themselves as guides rather than as directors. They give suggestions to others, but never with any intention of changing them. Helping each follower reach personal goals is important to a democratic leader. Democratic leaders do not use “top-down” communication; instead, they speak on the same level as their followers. Making sure everyone is heard is a priority. They listen to followers in supportive ways and assist them in becoming self-directed. In addition, they promote communication between group members and in certain situations are careful to draw out the less-articulate members of the group. Democratic leaders provide information, guidance, and suggestions, but do so without giving orders and without applying pressure. In their evaluations of followers, democratic leaders give objective praise and criticism.



The outcomes of democratic leadership are mostly positive. First, democratic leadership results in greater group member satisfaction, commitment, and cohesiveness. Second, under democratic leadership there is more friendliness, mutual praise, and group mindedness. Followers tend to get along with each other and willingly participate in matters of the group, making more “we” statements and fewer “I” statements. Third, democratic leadership results in stronger worker motivation and greater creativity. People are motivated to pursue their own talents under the supportive structure of democratic leadership. Finally, under a democratic leader group members participate more and are more committed to group decisions. The downside of democratic leadership is that it takes more time and commitment from the leader. Work is accomplished, but not as efficiently as if the leader were authoritarian. Laissez-Faire Leadership Style The laissez-faire leadership style is dissimilar to both Theory X and Theory Y. Laissez-faire leaders do not try to control followers as Theory X leaders do, and they do not try to nurture and guide followers as Theory Y leaders do. Laissez-faire stands alone as a style of leadership; some have labeled it nonleadership. The laissez-faire leader is a nominal leader who engages in minimal influence. As the French phrase implies, laissez-faire leadership means the leader takes a “hands-off, let it ride” attitude toward followers. These leaders recognize followers but are very laid back and make no attempt to influence their activities. Under laissez-faire leadership, followers have freedom to do pretty much what they want to do whenever they want to do it. Laissez-faire leaders make no attempt to appraise or regulate the progress of followers. Given that laissez-faire leadership involves nominal influence, what are the effects of laissez-faire leadership? Laissez-faire leadership tends to produce primarily negative outcomes. The major effect is that very little is accomplished under a laissez-faire leader. Because people are directionless and at a loss to know what to do, they tend to do nothing. Giving complete freedom results in an atmosphere that most followers find chaotic. Followers prefer some direction; left completely on their own, they become frustrated. Without a sense of purpose and direction, group members have difficulty finding meaning in their work; they become unmotivated and disheartened. As a result, productivity goes down. However, there are situations where the laissez-faire style is successful. People who are self-starters, who excel at individualized tasks and don’t require ongoing feedback, may prefer working under laissez-faire leaders. For example, Angela is the president of a website development company who uses independent contractors from across the globe. In certain respects, you could describe her leadership style as laissez-faire. The programmers who develop the websites’ code are in Poland, the designer is in India, the content writer is in the United Kingdom, and Angela is in the United States. When developing a site, Angela maps out and communicates the basic framework for the website and then relies on all of the individual contractors to determine the tasks they need to do for the site’s development. Because their tasks can be dependent upon another’s—for example, the designer needs the programmers to write the code to make the page display graphics and images in a certain way—they do communicate with one another, but because of time zone differences, this is mostly done by email. As their leader, Angela is kept apprised of issues and developments through an electronic project management system they share, but because all of the contractors are experts at what they do and trust the other team members to do what they do best, she lets



them problem-solve issues and concerns with one another and rarely gets involved. While there are a few situations where laissez-faire leadership is effective, in a majority of situations, it proves to be unsuccessful and unproductive. LEADERSHIP STYLES IN PRACTICE Each leader has a unique style of leadership. Some are very demanding and assertive while others are more open and participative. Similarly, some leaders could be called micromanagers, while others could be labeled nondirective leaders. Whatever the case, it is useful and instructive to characterize your leadership regarding the degree to which you are authoritarian, democratic, or laissez-faire. It is important to note that these styles of leadership are not distinct entities; it is best to think of them as occurring along a continuum, from high leader influence to low leader influence (see Figure 4.1). Leaders who exhibit higher amounts of influence are more authoritarian. Leaders who show a moderate amount of influence are democratic. Those who exhibit little to no influence are laissez-faire. Although we tend to exhibit primarily one style over the others, our personal leadership styles are not fixed and may vary depending on the circumstances. Consider what your results of the Leadership Styles Questionnaire on page 95 tell you about your leadership style. What is your main style? Are you most comfortable with authoritarian, democratic, or laissez-faire leadership? If you are the kind of leader who likes to structure work, likes to lay out the ground rules for others, likes to closely supervise your followers, thinks it is your responsibility to make sure followers do their work, wants to be “in charge” or to know what others are doing, and believes strongly that rewarding and punishing followers is necessary, then you are authoritarian. If you are the kind of leader who seldom gives orders or ultimatums to followers, instead trying to work with followers and help them figure out how they want to approach a task or complete their work, then you are primarily democratic. Helping each follower reach his or her own personal goals is important to a democratic leader. In some rare circumstances, you may find you are showing laissez-faire leadership. Although not a preferred style, it is important to be aware when one is being laissez-faire. Laissez-faire leaders take a very low profile to leadership. What followers accomplish is up to them. If you believe that your followers will thrive on complete freedom, then the laissez-faire style may be the right style for you. However, in most situations, laissez-faire leadership hinders success and productivity. SUMMARYY SUMMARYMMARY All of us have a philosophy of leadership that is based on our beliefs about human nature and work. Some leaders have a philosophy that resembles Theory X: They view workers as unmotivated and needing direction and control. Others have a philosophy similar to Theory Y: They approach workers as self-motivated and capable of working independently without strong direct influence from a leader. Our philosophy of leadership is played out in our style of leadership. There are three commonly observed styles of leadership: authoritarian, democratic, and laissez-faire. Similar to Theory X, authoritarian leaders perceive followers as needing direction, so they exert strong influence and control. Resembling Theory Y, democratic leaders view followers as capable of self-direction, so they provide counsel and support. Laissez-faire leaders leave followers to function on their own, providing nominal influence and direction. Effective leadership demands that we understand our philosophy of leadership and how it forms the foundations for our style of leadership. This understanding is the first step to becoming a more informed and competent leader.



Servant Leadership ( by Northouse Peter). DESCRIPTION _____________________________________ 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. 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. 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 faceto- 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. 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 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. This has resulted in a wide array of models that describe servant leadership that incorporate a multitude of variables. For example, Russell and Stone (2002) developed a practical



model of servant leadership that contained 20 attributes, 9 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 7 constructs that characterize the virtues and shape the behaviors of servant leaders. 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 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). Table 10.1 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. Most recently, Coetzer, Bussin, and Geldenhuys (2017) analyzed the existing literature and created a framework that summarizes the functions of servant leadership to make it more practical in organizations. They highlight 8 servant leadership characteristics (authenticity, humility, integrity, listening, compassion, accountability, courage, and altruism), 4 competencies, and 10 measures and 3 outcomes of servant leadership. Although scholars are not in agreement regarding the primary attributes of servant leadership, all 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. Antecedent Conditions 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. Leader Attributes. 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. Recent research has attempted to determine if there are specific leader traits that are important to servant leadership. Emotional intelligence, or the leader’s ability to monitor the feelings, beliefs, and internal states of the self and followers, has been identified as an important attribute for a leader implementing a servant-leader ideology (Barbuto, Gottfredson, & Searle, 2014; Beck, 2014; Chiniara & Bentein, 2016). An empirical study by Hunter and colleagues (2013) concluded that “leaders scoring high in agreeableness and low in extraversion were more likely to be perceived as servant leaders by their followers” (p. 327). In addition, a study by Sousa and van Dierendonck (2017) determined that having humility can make a servant leader more impactful regardless of his or her hierarchical position in an organization. Follower Receptivity. 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 et al., 2008). Similarly, empirical studies have shown 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 (Meuser, Liden, Wayne, & Henderson, 2011; Otero-Neira, Varela-Neira, & Bande, 2016; Ozyilmaz & Cicek, 2015). 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 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. 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. Emotional Healing. 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. 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. 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. 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 serves the havenots in the community, and the whole community reaps the benefits. Other researchers have used the servant leadership behaviors as identified by Liden et al.’s (2008) work as well as the work of Page and Wong (2000), Sendjaya and Sarros (2002), Dennis and Bocarnea (2005), and Barbuto and Wheeler (2006) as the foundation for efforts to understand the essential behaviors of servant leadership and how they are established in an organization. For example, Winston and Fields (2015) developed and validated a Outcomes 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. 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. For example, studies of servant leadership in a sales setting in Spain found that sales managers’ servant leadership was directly related to salespeople’s performance within the organization and indirectly related to salespeople’s identification with the organization. In addition, it enhanced the salespeople’s adaptability and proactivity by positively affecting their self-efficacy and intrinsic motivation (Bande, Fernández-Ferrín, Varela-Neira, & Otero-Neira, 2016; Otero-Neira et al., 2016). Hunter et al. (2013) found that servant leadership fosters a positive service climate, induces followers to help coworkers and sell products, and reduces turnover and disengagement behaviors. In addition, Chiniara and Bentein (2016) found that when servant leaders attended to followers’ needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness, it had a positive impact on followers’ task performance and organizational citizenship behavior. 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 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. 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 et al., 2008). Summary of Servants leadership 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. STRENGTHS ______________________________________ 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; 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 et al., 2008). Fourth, recent research has resulted in a sound measure of servant leadership. Using a rigorous methodology, Liden 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 et al., 2008; Schaubroeck, Lam, & Peng, 2011). The SLQ has proved to be a suitable instrument for use in research on servant leadership. CRITICISMS _______________________________________ 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. SUMMARY _______________________________________ 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 (Coetzer et al., 2017; Winston & Fields, 2015). Liden, Panaccio, et al. (2014) 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. sharpen your skills with saGe edge at REFERENCES ______________________________________ Bande, B., Fernández-Ferrín, P., Varela-Neira, C., & Otero-Neira, C. (2016). Exploring the relationship among servant leadership, intrinsic motivation and performance in an industrial sales setting. The Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, 31(2), 219–231. Barbuto, J. E., Jr., Gottfredson, R. K., & Searle, T. P. (2014). An examination of emotional intelligence as an antecedent of servant leadership. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 21(3), 315. Barbuto, J. E., Jr., & Wheeler, D. W. (2006). Scale development and construct clarification of servant leadership. Group and Organizational Management, 31, 300–326. Beck, C. D. (2014). Antecedents of servant leadership: A mixed methods study. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 21(3), 299. Bennis, W. (2002). Become a tomorrow leader. In L. C. Spears & M. Lawrence (Eds.), Focus on leadership: Servant-leadership for the twenty-first century (pp. 101–110). New York, NY: Wiley. Blanchard, K., & Hodges, P. (2003). The servant leader: Transforming your hearts, heads, hands, and habits. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson. Chiniara, M., & Bentein, K. (2016). Linking servant leadership to individual performance: Differentiating the mediating role of autonomy, competence and relatedness need satisfaction. The Leadership Quarterly, 27(1), 124. Coetzer, M. F., Bussin, M., & Geldenhuys, M. (2017). The functions of a servant leader. Administrative Sciences, 7(1), 5. doi: Covey, S. R. (2002). Foreword. In R. K. Greenleaf (Ed.), Servant leadership: A journey into the nature of legitimate power and greatness (pp. 1–14). New York, NY: Paulist Press. Dennis, R. S., & Bocarnea, M. (2005). Development of the servant leadership assessment instrument. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 26, 600–615. DePree, M. (2002). Servant-leadership: Three things necessary. In L. C. Spears & M. Lawrence (Eds.), Focus on leadership: Servant-leadership for the twenty-first century (pp. 27–34). New York, NY: Wiley.



Leadership, Leadership Styles, and Servant Leadership Franco Gandolfi and Seth Stone

References Gandolfi, F., & Stone, S. (2018). Leadership, Leadership Styles, and

Servant Leadership. Journal of Management Research (09725814), 18(4), 261–269.




Research on leadership has become a prominent scholarly and professional pursuit in an ever-changing, highly complex, and multi-dimensional globalized world. In spite of an over-abundance of scientific and anecdotal work, a myriad of leadership-related questions have remained unanswered. The purpose of this conceptual paper is to demystify leadership and to bring clarity to what leadership and leadership styles are, identify critical attributes of effective leadership, and demonstrate that servant leadership meets the criteria for effective leadership.

Keywords: Leadership, Leadership Styles, Servant Leadership



There perhaps has never been a more important time to shine the spotlight of the wide-ranging discussion on leadership to the style of servant leadership. The lists of potential reasons for such a shift are many. First, it requires little more than a brief scan of daily news headlines to recognize that the world is entrenched in a leadership crisis. Second, leadership has become increasingly more difficult, complex, and multi-faceted for organizations of all types globally, thereby bringing new questions and challenges regarding the “best” type of leader, which ironically has done little more than cloud the overarching discussion on leadership (Gandolfi & Stone, 2016). Further, despite the significant body of literature on

Franco Gandolfi

Vice Chancellor Manipal International University (MIU) Nilai, Negeri Sembilan – 71800 Malaysia

Seth Stone



leadership, it continues to remain one of the most misunderstood business phenomena to date (Gandolfi, 2016). If the goal is to understand the consequences of leadership and its various styles, specifically servant leadership, it is important first to bring clarity to what leadership is and why it is such a pivotal concept.

Though there has been substantial research completed and authenticated with regard to what are now considered mainstream styles of accepted leadership, such as democratic, transactional, and transformational leadership, there is very little research on servant leadership by way of actual comparison (Gandolfi, Stone, & Deno, 2017). Robert Greenleaf (1970) had brought servant leadership into the corporate spotlight, but not without resistance and much skepticism, as it took nearly thirty years to begin garnering any meaningful attention from leadership experts and scholars (Gandolfi et al., 2017). At this juncture, in the midst of trying to understand leadership itself, it is imperative to simultaneously understand what servant leadership is and is not (Brown & Bryant, 2015), as a means to make a compelling case for its application alongside other accepted leadership


Adjunct Professor Regent University Virginia Beach, Virginia – 23464, USA styles.

The purpose of this paper is to help bring clarity both to what leadership and leadership styles actually are, as well as identify critical attributes of effective leadership. The objective is to demonstrate that servant leadership meets the criteria for effective leadership and is potentially highly desirable for organizations of all type and industry in the 21st Century and beyond. This paper will begin with a brief explanation of the importance of leadership, as well as provide working definitions for both leadership and leadership styles. It will then distill the key attributes of effective leadership and make the case that servant leadership holds a rightful place amongst other leadership styles. This is done by providing a historical context, as well as how and why servant leadership works and must be applied in today’s organizations.


While there is much disagreement with regard to what leadership actually is, the one commonality that can be found across virtually all of the existing leadership literature is that leadership is important. While this point may appear rather obvious, it should not be lost on us. The reason being is that when leadership is ineffective, absent, or toxic the result is that people, organizations, communities, and even entire societies are impacted, sometimes in the most devastating ways (Gandolfi & Stone, 2016). Leadership failures are well-documented and, at times, appear to be the rule, not the exception. Ken Lay of Enron, Dennis Kozlowski of Tyco, and the infamous Bernie Madoff are just a few well-documented business examples that can be pointed to the past few decades alone. More recent examples include the much publicized FIFA leadership fiasco and the Volkswagen integrity crises and, even more recently, the clear lack of leadership at the Olympic Games in Brazil. The latter was evidenced by complete leadership failure both by the athletes who represented their respective countries as well as the local leadership (Gandolfi & Stone, 2016). There are always lessons and takeaways in the moment that spark discussions on ethics, policies, and even government regulations. However, leadership problems persist even in spite of these efforts. It appears that poor


leadership has become a systemic issue on a global level, thus it is not surprising to see more and more cases such as these to arise. In fact, a Gallup study that examined the relationships between employees and their managers found that of 7,200 people surveyed who left their jobs; roughly half did so because of a bad



manager (Snyder, 2015). This insight shows that no organization or industry is immune from poor leadership leading some to believe that it could even be characterized as ubiquitous (Gandolfi & Stone, 2016). Poor leadership takes its toll on every imaginable stakeholder from those inside and outside the organizations. This reality places leadership in a state of crisis on a global level. Therefore, there must be a sense of urgency in the uncovering of the most desirable and effective methods for leading organizations.

How a leader chooses to behave, or in more academic terminology how a leader accesses a repertoire of styles, impacts the various stakeholders profoundly. Chaleff (2009) posits that all important social accomplishments require complex group efforts and, thus, leadership and followership are both necessary in the pursuit of a common purpose. This inherently forces leaders to emerge, but the type of leader that rises to the top will indeed make or break the organization. From a purely organizational perspective, without clearly drawn maps to the future, an organization tends to be hamstrung by its past (Miller, 1995). It is the responsibility of leadership to move organizations to a desired future state without losing sight of those who will get it there. It is an extremely difficult balancing act. However, it is what makes leadership so incredibly significant and demonstrates why the chosen leadership style is a decision with the highest of stakes the global community faces today.


There are countless definitions of leadership that exist. Yet, a proper understanding of why leadership is so significant and why the chosen leadership style is so important becomes

Journal of Management Research


particularly valuable to introduce working definitions of both leadership and leadership style. Gandolfi (2016) asserts that the combination of five components render a potent working definition of leadership – (i) there must be one or more leaders, (ii) leadership must have followers, (iii) it must be action oriented with a legitimate (iv) course of action, and there must be (v) goals and objectives. Working from these five criteria, the following definition was selected for the purpose of this article:

“A leader is one or more people who selects, equips, trains, and influences one or more follower(s) who have diverse gifts, abilities, and skills and focuses the follower(s) to the organization’s mission and objectives causing the follower(s) to willingly and enthusiastically expend spiritual, emotional, and physical energy in a concerted coordinated effort to achieve the organizational mission and objectives.” (Winston & Patterson, 2006, p. 7)

Winston and Patterson (2006) provide a definition as it relates to the components needed for defining leadership as stated above. Additionally, this definition provides an unequivocal demonstration that leadership is not one-dimensional. Rather, leadership requires a deep understanding about the role of people in the ultimate success of the mission and vision of the organization (Gandolfi & Stone, 2016). This assists in moving leadership out of a theoretical realm into a very tangible and pragmatic space, giving room to explore leadership styles and how they connect to a definition such as this.

While a significant body of research exists addressing various leadership styles, there is a surprising shortcoming of research examining the notion of a leadership “style” (Gandolfi & Stone, 2016). It is almost a forgone assumption that there is general understanding and consensus with regard to what a leadership style is, which is erroneous and does not serve the greater discussion on leadership well. Such a lack of clarity could be contributing to the widely disparate views on leadership (Gandolfi et al., 2017).

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Buchanan (2013) opines that the world has moved through different phases of leadership since the early part of the 20th Century. Specifically, there was first the concept of “command-and-control” that prevailed into the 1980s, which was followed by “empower-and-track” through the mid 2000’s, and, finally, “connect-and- nurture,” which is the current approach. While this timeframe may not hold universally true, it provides a high-level justification as to why different leadership styles have emerged. Additionally, early theories of leadership had made the assumption that good leadership was based on traits (Shazia, Anis-ul-Haq, & Niazi, 2014). This led to the notion that leaders are born and not made.

It was the well-known psychologist Kurt Lewin and team (1939) who introduced that leaders could be made and were not necessarily just born. In their seminal work, Lewin, Lippit, and White (1939) categorized and introduced three leadership styles that set the framework for future styles to emerge – autocratic, democratic, and laissez-faire (Martin, 2015). Additional styles began to focus on the leader/follower relationship and how the actions of one will impact the other (Shazia et al., 2014).

Armandi, Oppedisano, and Sherman (2003) note that leadership is about influencing a group of people in the direction of a decided common goal. Leadership is also highly intentional. Rooke and Torbert (2005) assert that differences among leaders are not determined by their philosophy of leadership, personality, or even management style. Rather, it has to do with how they read and interpret their surroundings and how those interpretations influence reactions leaders have in various situations. This requires a high degree of self- awareness, emotional intelligence, and environmental context both inside and outside the organization (Rooke & Torbert, 2005).

Leadership effectiveness in the eyes of followers is closely tied to the leader being driven, able to inspire, and prioritize needs, which in turn produces a sense of safety and calm for followers (McDermott, Kidney, & Flood, 2013). This points directly to the connection between leader and



follower as outlined by Winston and Patterson (2006).

With this understanding of how leadership styles developed over time, the authors of this paper defined a leadership style as follows:

“An intentional means by which a leader influences a group of people in an organization to a widely understood future state that is different from the present one.” (Gandolfi & Stone, 2016)

It is important to note that this definition does not indicate a better future, merely a different future state. Research shows that not all leadership styles will lead to a better organizational future state. Thus, making the selection of leadership style is a pivotal decision and, in the midst of the current leadership crisis, it is time to turn the attention to a style still widely dismissed – servant leadership.


Prior to delving into servant leadership specifically, it is important to note the principles of effective leadership based on what has been presented thus far. First are two guiding principles, (i) virtually everyone has some capacity to form leadership relationships (Gandolfi, 2016), and (ii) leaders are made and not born (Gandolfi & Stone, 2016). Andersen (2012) postulates that while some people are born with innate qualities and character attributes that propel and/or accelerate their leadership journey, the vast majority of people live



in a practical reality where their leadership skills must be intentionally cultivated to achieve their maximum potential leadership output. Such cultivation cannot happen without relationships (Komives, Lucas, & McMahon, 1998).

Kouzes and Posner (2007) have produced some of the most authoritative research on the subject of leadership effectiveness and arrived at five key attributes. These are; (i) to model the way, (ii) to inspire a shared vision, (iii) to challenge the process, (iv) to enable others to act, and (v) to encourage the heart. Understanding these elements of effective leadership provides critical context for


why a deeper exploration of servant leadership is necessary in today’s leadership climate.


Servant leadership dates back thousands of years. Many ancient monarchies had widely acknowledged that leadership was for the service of people and country (Sendjaya & Sarros, 2002). In a more modern context, Greenleaf (1970) reinvigorated the notion of the servant leader.

Though in some circles servant leadership is falsely assumed as a Christian paradigm, servant leadership has influenced and been influenced by many cultures around the world (Gandolfi et al., 2017). Winston and Ryan (2008) posit that the teachings of Confucius are similar in construct to servant leadership and some of the constructs of servant leadership show up in the Zhou Dynasty (111 – 249 B.C.). The traditional tribal leadership of the Bedouin-Arab culture also aligned with the concept of servant leadership, as these leaders were expected to be selfless and emphasize the needs of family and guests above their own (Hirschy, Gomez, Patterson, & Winston, 2012).

One of the best-recorded examples of servant leadership is derived from the teachings of Jesus Christ among the Jewish culture nearly two thousand years ago. Sendjaya and Sarros (2002) state that Jesus was the first to “introduce the notion of servant leadership to everyday human endeavor” (p. 58). Such teaching was paradoxical two thousand years ago, and in many respects, still presents a conundrum today as the notion of the leader as a servant appears as nothing short of an oxymoron.

In the 20th Century, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. serve as prominent examples of servant leadership. While they slightly predate Greenleaf’s (1970) description of the servant leader, the alleged ten characteristics of servant leadership (Spears, 2004) exist in both examples. Spears (2004) clarifies Greenleaf’s definition of servant leadership by presenting ten salient

Journal of Management Research


characteristics – listening, empathy, healing, awareness, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, commitment to growth of people, and building community (Gandolfi et al., 2017). Spears’s (2004) introduction of this characteristic model has re-ignited the

st systematic study of servant leadership in the 21

Century. Consequently, studies on servant leadership proliferated resulting in 39 articles published in reputable management journals between 2004 and 2011 alone (Parris & Peachey, 2013).

Despite its introduction as an organizational leadership style four decades ago and more than ten years of empirical work (Laub, 1999), servant leadership has remained in the early stage of theoretical development



(Liden, Wayne, Liao, & Meuser, 2014). Though our understanding of servant leadership has advanced, it has not yet been fully operationalized (Van Dierendonck, 2011).


The dichotomous nature of servant leadership has the capacity to lead to a general misunderstanding of what the concept entails (Gandolfi et al., 2017). Sendjaya and Sarros (2002) suggest that one of the reasons servant leadership suffers from a scarcity of research is that it is difficult to create a legitimate perception of a servant who leads. A confusion is thus quite possible due to an incorrect understanding of the roles of a leader and a servant. Historically speaking, the trait theory of leadership stemming from the ‘great man myth’ (Hoffman, Woehr, Maldagen-Youngjohn, & Lyons, 2011) identified leadership with traits that allowed leaders to lead with authority and power (Mcfarlane, 2011). The great man myth perception of leadership says little of interpersonal skills needed to lead well (Yukl, 2012). On the other hand, the humility and meekness of the servant are “seen as weak or ineffective in a society where domination, oppressive strategies, and individualism are stronger values than humility, collectivism, and sharing of power and authority with others” (Mcfarlane, 2011, p. 31). These misconceptions of leader and servant have produced a belief that servant

Volume 18, Number 4 • October–December 2018

leaders engage a lackadaisical or laissez-faire style. Plainly, servant leadership is neither disengaged nor weak and it does not lack enthusiasm and determination (i.e., lackadaisical). It also does not let things take their own course without interfering (i.e., laissez-faire) (Gandolfi et al., 2017). Servant leaders are as proactive, ambitious, and driven as any other leader. They just have a different focus and set of motivation that guide their leadership and decision making. In fact, what differentiates servant leadership from other styles of leadership is the primary focus on the follower first (Stone, Russell, & Patterson, 2004). Whereas many, if not most styles of leadership direct their focus first on a mission and second on empowering followers to achieve that mission, servant leadership directs its focus first on the ability of the individuals to succeed and then subsequently on the success of the mission. Again, this is counterintuitive to most modern schools of management and leadership thought. In this way, the servant leader serves those who follow their lead and collectively with their team serve an organization or mission (Gandolfi et al., 2017). This leadership focus reveals strength through discipline and humility requiring the leader to put their own needs after the needs of those they serve. Servant leaders help their followers to grow and succeed, which in turn aids in accomplishing the organizational mission. The perception of a servant leader should be one of a courageous steward who holds people accountable for their own good (Van Dierendonck & Nuijten, 2011).

By the very nature of how servant leadership must be executed, it is an immensely difficult task. In fact, it could be argued that it is more challenging than most if not all other prevalent styles. This is due to the fact that, in practical reality, it is often easier to require follower compliance than it is to inspire a willing acceptance of the requirements needed to meet an organizational mission and vision (Patterson, 2006). Thus, it is little wonder why for the scholastic and practitioner communities alike, a philosophy rooted in placing the needs of followers ahead of the needs of the organization is counter-intuitive to what so many have believed to be a logical or viable form of organizational leadership (Brown & Bryant, 2015).



This poses an immediate question: Why would an organization seek to embrace servant leadership? Servant leaders, at their core, are those individuals who develop and empower others to reach their highest potential (Sendjaya & Sarros, 2002). This speaks directly to the individual potential of the follower(s) rather than the



organization. Servant leadership assumes that if the followers are maximizing their potential, it will directly translate to the potential of the organization and its overall performance.

Interestingly, Graham (1991) as well as Farling, Stone, and Winston, (1999) assert that servant leadership is comparable to Burns’ (1978) transforming leadership, in that both approaches encourage leaders and followers to “raise one another to higher levels of motivation and morality.” (p. 20). However, while both styles of leadership share this commonality, this is where their similarities end.

Management and organization theory suggests that the most traditional approaches have a tendency to consolidate power amongst few people within an entity, who in turn expect rigid compliance within and across the organizational hierarchy (Winston & Fields, 2015). As such and strictly within this context, charismatic and transformational styles focus on inspiring and engaging followers as chief means to attain organizational goals (Winston & Fields, 2015).

A combination of philosophical assumptions as well as tangible and empirical evidence suggest that servant leadership not only “work”, but can be touted as effective and desirable. Servant leadership works because it incorporates a proven element of effective leadership. Still, effective leadership is neither linear nor is it a one- way form of communication or event. Rather, it is highly interactive (Northouse, 2007). The notion of leadership being a two-way relationship renders many archaic leadership styles as ineffective. Servant leadership is increasingly being seen as the most interactive style of leadership when it comes to leader/follower engagement. This is due to the fact that the primary emphasis for attaining organizational goals is based on serving the


followers tasked with achieving those.

Manby (2012) and Stone (2015) suggest that when servant leadership is applied correctly with the proper intentions, an authentic and natural form of reciprocity takes place between the leader and the follower, thus increasing workforce engagement and improving organizational performance (Gandolfi & Stone, 2017).

Servant leadership also works from a purely moral perspective. Corporate crises and political scandals have dominated news headlines across the globe. At the time of writing, Malaysia and its much publicized 1MDB scandal have riveted much of the South-Asians media headlines for most of 2017 and 2018. These crises and scandals seem to emerge in spite of the imposition of stringent rules and regulation

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