Achieving High Organization Performance through Servant Leadership

The Journal of Business Inquiry 01/2010; 9(1).


This empirical paper investigates whether a servant leader can develop a corporate culture that attracts or develops other servant leaders. Using the survey developed by Barbuto and Wheeler (2006), servant leader characteristics in managers were measured at three high-performing organizations. Results indicate that servant leaders can develop a culture of followers who are servant leaders themselves. This is one of the few studies to empirically test the model of servant leadership in an organizational environment. The success these servant leaders have achieved in a for-profit, demanding environment suggests this leadership style is viable for adoption by other firms.

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    ABSTRACT: Many authors on servant leadership (SL) claim that there exists a direct positive relationship between SL and organizational performance, but empirical evidence for this has thus far been lacking. There are indications, however, that introducing SL in an organization has a positive influence on mediating factors of performance, which in turn lead to better organizational performance. There is empirical evidence that applying the high-performance organization (HPO) framework does lead to increased organizational performance. As SL deals with behaviors and attitudes of managers, it is a reasonable assumption that SL has a certain influence on management quality, one of the factors of high performance included in the HPO framework. In this respect, one or more HPO factors might be mediating factors between SL and organizational performance. This article evaluates empirically the relation between SL, organizational performance, and the HPO framework. A theoretical proposition of these relations was made and, based on a sample of 116 managers and employees of Vrije Universiteit medical center, the levels of SL, HPO, and performance in Vrije Universiteit medical center were measured. This case study showed no evidence of a direct positive relation between SL and organizational performance. There was evidence of SL having an influence on the factors in the HPO framework but this influence was different on various organizational levels. It was concluded that the role of SL in the case organization was inconsistent.
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    Advances in Developing Human Resources 11/2012; 14(4):607-625. DOI:10.1177/1523422312455612
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    ABSTRACT: The purpose of this mixed methods study was to explore the antecedents of servant leadership. The sequential explanatory research design consisted of two distinct phases: quantitative followed by qualitative.^ The Phase One quantitative survey collected data from 499 leaders and 630 raters from community leadership programs in the United States using the Servant Leadership Questionnaire (Barbuto & Wheeler, 2006).^ During Phase Two, selected leaders from phase one (N = 12) were interviewed to explain those results in more depth. The data were coded and analyzed for possible themes. Triangulation was used to analyze the quantitative and qualitative data to validate the findings of the data collected.^ Six key findings emerged from the data: (a) the longer a leader is in a leadership role, the more frequent the servant leader behaviors; (b) leaders that volunteer at least one hour per week demonstrate higher servant leader behaviors; (c) servant leaders influence others through building trusting relationships; (d) servant leaders demonstrate an altruistic mindset; (e) servant leaders are characterized by interpersonal competence; and (f) a servant leader may not necessarily lead from the front, or the top of the organization. Practical implications and future directions for leadership research are discussed.
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