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Providing a deeper understanding of leadership, followership theory, and the follower as servant leader, this book provides employee and follower perspectives of servant leadership in the workplace. The collection brings together both empirical and conceptual research from around the globe to illustrate how the leader is seen through the lens of the follower. Topics discussed include organizational performance, empowerment, competency models, diversity in the workplace, and social roles and stereotypes. With contributions from a range of skilled authors, Servant Leadership and Followership not only provides an overview of servant leadership, but also offers insightful ways for organizations to adapt and progress in line with the shifting moral demands of today’s workplace.



Servant Leadership and Volunteerism

The purpose of this general review is to present philosophical foundation of the tenets of Greenleaf’s take on the concept of servant leadership and how it applies to volunteerism from the participant’s perspective. The author describes discovering and following the call to volunteerism from the perspective of the volunteer, and explains how the precepts of servant leadership apply to volunteers and their altruistic approach to volunteerism. An extensive review of the literature, including recent journal articles and works, considers various aspects of servant leadership as it pertains to the volunteer community. Findings include an explanation of how higher epistemic cognition is achieved in volunteerism through follower growth by means of self-actualization. Practical and social implications are also given.
Edward J. Breslin

Servant Leadership and Gender

Some scholars claim servant leadership is a gender-neutral leadership style that may enhance perceptions of women leaders by de-emphasizing the masculine traits typically expected of leaders. However, others argue servant and leader are gender-laden terms, creating a superior-subordinate paradox that mirrors the female-leader paradox. Despite debate over whether servant leadership minimizes gender biases based in leader stereotypes, multiple case studies illustrate the way some women self-identify as servant leaders, attaining leadership roles through service. Servant leadership may allow women leaders to enact the social roles of gender and leader in authentic ways, leading to enhanced follower perceptions and ethical decision making consistent with a feminine ethic of care. Taken together, these possibilities make the intersections between servant leadership and gender worthy of continued exploration.
Alyse Scicluna Lehrke, Kristin Sowden

Creating a Positive Organization Through Servant Leadership

The concept of positive organizations is gaining traction among both scholars and practitioners. Recent developments by scholars include the publication of Positive Organizational Scholarship and Positive Leadership. The application of positive scholarship is elaborated on by Whole Foods’ CEO John Mackey in his book on Conscious Capitalism. The Container Store’s CEO, Kip Tindell describes similar practices in his book, Uncontainable. In this chapter, I review the core elements of positive organizational scholarship (POS). Then, I discuss servant leadership as the critical catalyst for developing these positive organizations. Finally, I present an integration of servant leadership with the tenets of POS by examining three exemplary organizations: TDIndustries, Whole Foods, and The Container Store.
J. Lee Whittington

Leadership and Diversity Management

Though limited, there exists a body of research related to servant leadership which facilitates the opportunity for scholars and practitioners to develop an appreciation of the antecedents and outcomes associated with this leadership style, its adoption and likelihood to contribute to organizational success. With reference to extant literature, this chapter examines the relationship between servant leadership and the management of diversity within organizations. There are some commonalities between the two constructs, which suggests that they are complementary, and that when both are applied in practice, they should result in favorable organizational outcomes. This chapter explores what is currently known about servant leadership and analyses the extent to which effective servant leaders may positively impact employees (and other organizational members), organizational performance and diversity management. Notwithstanding this, there are also associated challenges that may result in suboptimal outcomes, arising from the simultaneous pursuit of inclusive practices and leaders with the primary objective of being in service to their followers. These will also be explored in this chapter with a view to discussing the extent to which these limit or moderate the realization of the desired outcomes. The chapter will also make recommendations for future research in this area.
Jacqueline H. Stephenson

Leadership and Workplace Bullying: Friend or Foe?

Bame examines if the Servant Leadership Model in creating positive change can counteract the development of a sub-culture of workplace bullying in organizations. The chapter focuses on the three perspectives of characteristics of the workplace bully, servant leadership implications from an employee perspective, and experiences of the victims of workplace bullying. It is possible to apply the Servant Leadership Model to organizations whose culture has developed cases of workplace bullying and effect positive changes to the culture through the attributes of accountability, respect, integrity, and community. More specifically, if organizations adopt the principles of servant leadership, such as ethical behavior, forming relationships, empowering, and helping their followers to grow and succeed, then leadership can create positive change in organizations.
Richard M. Bame

The Place of a University to a Community: Academic Institutions Where Everyone of the Follower Leads

This chapter reveals the impact of building a university in an African rural community based on servant leadership. A careful examination of Greenleaf’s theory of an institution as a servant leader could increase understanding about educational institutional challenges to champion the cause of the least privileged followers. Topics include academic and economic benefits regarding development of stable organizational infrastructures to provide access to information technology, and increased motivation of followers in rural university communities. The chapter reveals the factors hindering followers’ success by applying Greenleaf’s servant leadership Best Test. The focus is to note if there is an increase in followers feeling healthier, freer, wiser, more autonomous, and empowered as a student in a rural community in Africa.
Peter Amah

Employee Perspectives: The Lack of Servant Leadership in Organizations

Servant leadership is prevalent in various industries, including retail organizations. Eleven employees working in retail discussed the lack of exemplary servant leadership from follower perspectives. The findings substantiated a lack of servant leadership exhibited by organizational leader’s impacts on employee well-being and followership. By focusing on the need to increase employee empowerment—implementing dual-way servant leadership training, respecting each other, and modeling one’s innate ethical, spiritual, and moral values—organizational leaders can realize much more than satisfied and productive employees, and satisfied stakeholders and community members. An interesting topic for further investigation is to reveal how retail organizations as a whole unit benefits financially from implementing servant leadership training and developing organizational succession planning.
Julie D. Conzelmann

Moving from Power to Empowerment in Decision-Making

The focus of this chapter is a review of how effective decision-making works for followers in servant-led organizations, the role of consensus leadership, and how conflict resolution is addressed in a servant leadership environment. Current literature is routinely used to examine servant leadership practices from the leader perspective only with little consideration given to the follower perspective. Benefits to a follower of a servant leader include greater empowerment, evolved problem-solving skills, enhanced collaboration skills, and the development of effective communication skills. This chapter examines key processes from the follower lens. The authors explore how a follower-centric framework empowers followers to constructively and collaboratively approach conflict to arrive at higher-quality decisions in servant-led organizations.
Julie Overbey, Pamela Gordon

Review of Followership Theory and Servant Leadership Theory: Understanding How Servant Leadership Informs Followership

There is a need for more research on the follower’s perspective of servant leadership. This chapter presents a review of the literature on servant leadership and followership. The aim of the chapter is to determine how servant leadership informs followership. A combination of peer-reviewed articles, practitioner articles, and books constitute the reviewed literature in the chapter. A review of the literature found that following is a way of serving. Further, servant-leaders should produce servant followers. Key concepts that reoccurred in the literature included service, trust, and commitment. Trust is essential to the follower-leader relationship. Trusting leaders empowers followers, which can lead to greater commitment to the organization and to the leader. Finally this review is limited because of the small amount of research reviewed.
Nicole Davis

Servant Leadership: A New Paradigm

The chapter provides a unique opportunity to discuss servant leadership as a style fit for the corporate organization. The chapter increases the knowledge regarding leadership and helps position servant leadership as a promising leadership theory for professional practice. The chapter also provides some insights into servant leadership, transformational leadership, and followers’ perceptions of leaders. Leaders of corporations require them to understand the concept of complex adaptive systems to assist them in effectively achieving organizational goals. Organizational learning (OL) in the workplace was a key element in discussing servant leadership and how the servant leadership perspective might impact organizations. Minimal research exists that investigates servant leadership as an alternative style for learner-centric organizations (OL) and corporate management. OL includes knowledge management, innovation, creativity, complex adaptive systems, and spirituality.
David Duren

Leading by Serving: Redefining the Roles of Leaders and Followers in Today’s Workplace

The competencies the scholarly literature has ascribed to effective leaders and effective followers are surprisingly similar. Due to economic and workplace trends, today’s followers are increasingly being tasked with carrying out work responsibilities traditionally assigned to leaders. Consequently, leaders are increasingly being tasked with a higher-order, superordinate responsibilities. Thus, it is important that theory and research catch up with practice in recognizing this shift. We present servant leadership as a starting point for understanding the superordinate leadership role. We integrate existing literature to present a parsimonious model of key servant leadership competencies and compare these to existing models of followership and leadership. Finally, we discuss work characteristics in which the superordinate leadership role, and consequently servant leadership competencies, will likely present the greatest utility.
Tiffany Brutus, Adam Vanhove

What Is It Like to Work for a Servant Leader?

In a 2016 study, interviews were conducted with 12 servant leaders in business, educational, and non-profit organizations in the United States. Data obtained from interviews were used to discover a Glaserian grounded theory of servant leaders’ use of influence. It answers questions about what types of influence servant leaders use and when and why that influence is used. Servant leaders apply influence via a social process described as empowering proxy. A proxy is a person who acts on another’s behalf. Empowering proxy is three sub-processes: (a) positioning, (b) enculturating, and (c) synergistic influencing. Using these processes, servant leaders enculturate followers toward a serving philosophy. They position followers for best effect according to follower skills and interests and the needs of the organization. And they use non-usurping influence methods that have a synergistic effect toward the achievement of organizational goals. As leadership is influence, understanding how servant leaders use influence gives followers an idea of what it is like to follow a servant leader.
Gerald W. Sikorski


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