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Leadership is an ever changing and evolving concept in the contemporary world. The changing environment presents leaders with new challenges that they need to tackle and solve. van Dierendonck et al (2014) stated that the contemporary environment characterized by a knowledge based economy has increased the dependency on people. As such, the needs and wants of employees have to be taken into consideration by leaders to ensure long term firm and organization success. As a result, researchers and scholars have conducted extensive research over the years into the topic of leadership, and the type of leadership that recognizes the needs and wants of employees-servant leadership (van Dierendonck et al., 2014). In light of this, the paper will conduct a study to evaluate and analyze the concept of servant leadership at the workplace. For a comprehensive evaluation, the paper will highlight the study’s problem statement, theories guiding the study, and the study’s variables and hypothesis. An in-depth discussion will be followed by a conclusion to summarize the paper.
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The study will focus on the topic of Servant Leadership in the Workplace: Why Not? Thus, the study on a broader scale will delve into the effect of servant leadership characteristics and behavior on followers and the workplace environment. Although various scholars such as Bass (1985), Greenleaf (1970; 1977), and Bass, Avolio & Goodheim (1987) have undertaken research on the concept of leadership, research on the impact of servant leadership on employee performance is limited. Thus, it is not known whether a relationship exists between servant leadership characteristics and behavior, followers’ performance, and the workplace environment.
The use of theories in research is vital primarily because they(Theories) enable a researcher or scholar to create and find links between the concrete and abstract, observational statements and thought statements (Sunday, n.d). Hence, the study will be founded on two theories: servant leadership theory and transformational leadership theory.
Servant Leadership Theory
Greenleaf (1970) introduced the servant as a leader framework in the early 1960s and 70s when he published an article titled ‘The Servant as a Leader’. Greenleaf (1977) argues that a servant leader focuses on other people instead of focusing on him/herself. Servant leaders, therefore, express their desire to serve their followers and also prepare them to be servants to others (van Dierendonck et al., 2014). van Dierendonck et al (2014) further states that the theory of servant leadership tries to comprehend the needs and wants of people. It is a follower/employee centered model. After understanding the needs and wants of people/followers, servant leaders take the relevant steps to satisfy and fulfill them. A leader’s servant legitimizes their authority and strengthens allegiance from the followers (Greenleaf, 1970).
Transformational leadership theory
Transformational leadership theory refers to a leadership framework that induces change or transformation in both individuals and leaders. In its basic form, transformational leadership creates positive change in individuals/followers thereby making them to perform better (Bass, 1985). Bass (1985) highlights three ways in which leaders can transform their followers. First, leaders can change their followers by raising their (followers) level of consciousness on the benefits of an action’s outcomes. Second, transformational leaders help followers to transcend their own personal wants and needs so as to achieve a common goal as a team. Lastly transformational leaders have to raise their followers’ need level on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
Variables and Hypotheses
The study’s independent and dependent variables and hypotheses are listed below:
- Independent variable: Level of manager’s servant leadership characteristics/behaviors. Data will be collected via surveys that measure leadership styles.
- Dependent variable: Level of followers’ performance and workplace environment.
- H1: There is a significant relationship between leader- perceived servant leadership characteristics and behavior and the creation of servant followers.
- H10: There is no significant relationship between leader- perceived servant leadership characteristics and behavior and the creation of servant followers.
- H2A: There is a significant relationship between leader- perceived servant leadership characteristics and behavior and followers’ performance.
- H2A0: There is not a significant relationship between leader- perceived servant leadership characteristics and behavior and followers’ performance.
- H3A: There is a significant relationship between leader- perceived servant leadership characteristics and behavior and the workplace environment.
- H3A0: There is not a significant relationship between leader- perceived servant leadership characteristics and behavior and the workplace environment.
Leaders act as an organization’s head. They establish an organization’s culture, inform employees about the organization’s goals and objectives, implement strategies and enforce behaviours designed to promote the organization’s success (Melchar & Bosco, 2010). For an organization to be successful, it must first meet the needs and wants of its employees (Dierendonck et al., 2014). People centered Leadership models that are critical in the ever changing and dynamic modern environment include transformational and servant leadership frameworks. Servant leaders put the interests of their employees and followers ahead of theirs, and empower them to satisfy their needs. On the other hand, transformational leaders empower their followers to perform better (Bass, 1985). Through intellectual stimulation, contingent reward, charisma, empowerment and active management, servant and transformational leaders are able to offer quality leadership leading to better performance (Melchar & Bosco, 2010). Leaders through sufficient resource allocation, training and guidance create an empowering organization environment that spurs follower’s performance. A transformational perceived leader motivates his/her followers to achieve high order changes; he/she encourages them to strive to achieve transcendental goals and high level self-actualizing needs (Bass, Avolio & Goodheim, 1987).
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The study attempts to identify whether a relationship exists between servant leadership characteristics and behavior, followers’ performance, and the workplace environment. Servant leaders aim to satisfy the needs of their followers first before their personal needs. Further, servant leaders have a goal of transforming their followers into servants as well. Both servant and transformational leaders are characterized by their need to empower their followers and employees. They implement employee specific strategies and actions that are aimed at helping followers transcend their goals.
- Bass, B. M. (1985). Leadership: Good, Better, Best. Organizational Dynamics, 13(3), 26-40.
- Bass, B. M., Avolio, B. J., & Goodheim, L. (1987). Biography and the assessment of transformational leadership at the world-class level. Journal of management, 13(1), 7-19.
- Greenleaf, R. K. (1970). The servant as leader. Indianapolis, IN: The Robert K.Greenleaf Center.
- Greenleaf, R. K. (1977). Servant leadership: A journey into the nature of legitimate power and greatness. New York, NY: Paulist Press.
- Melchar, D. E., & Bosco, S. M. (2010). Achieving High Organization Performance through Servant Leadership. Journal Of Business Inquiry: Research, Education & Application, 9(1), 74-88.
- Sunday, C. (n.d). the role of theory in research. University of the western cape.
- van Dierendonck, D., Stam, D., Boersma, P., de Windt, N., & Alkema, J. (2014). Same difference? Exploring the differential mechanisms linking servant leadership and transformational leadership to follower outcomes. The Leadership Quarterly, 25544-562. doi:10.1016/j.leaqua.2013.11.014