Want to Implement Servant Leadership? Here's How


This article first appeared on LinkedIn

If you are a believer in the merits of servant leadership, then the following should be of great interest to you. Coetzer, Bussin, and Geldenhuys (2017) completed a meta-analysis of current servant leadership literature to see if they might be able to identify specific servant leadership characteristics, competencies, measures, and outcomes. Their idea was to be able to provide a framework that would help to operationalize servant leadership and make it practical for organizations.

Below is the list of outcomes identified by the authors from multiple studies they analyzed:

Servant Leadership Outcomes

Individual Level

  • Burnout (-)

  • Work engagement (+)

  • Turnover intention (−)

  • Organizational citizenship behavior (+)

  • Creativity and innovation (+)

  • Organizational commitment (+)

  • Trust (+)

  • Self-efficacy (+)

  • Person job fit and person organizational fit (+)

  • Leader-member exchange (+)

  • Work-life balance (+)

Team Level

  • Team organizational citizenship behavior (+)

  • Group identification (+)

  • Service climate and culture (+)

Organization Level

  • Customer service (+)

  • Sales performance (+)

Notes: (+) = Positive correlation (−) = Negative correlation

Please note that the + and - signs above indicate either a positive or negative correlation between the term(s) and servant leadership.

Additionally, the authors created a table of the functions of a servant leader. As you can see, they divided the performance areas into two sections: strategic servant leadership and operational servant leadership. They identified four functions of servant leaders and included objectives, characteristics, and competencies for each function.

So, if you are looking to implement servant leadership in your organization, you can choose to either start with a strategic or operational approach. Once you've chosen the approach, then all that is needed is to focus on the first function for that section, If it is to align, care for, and grow talent, as an example, then one could start by helping to either build or improve the competencies listed - in this case building relationships and empowerment. Training could start with describing the objectives and then focus on the two characteristics, listening and compassion, to help build/improve the skills.

Reference:

Coetzer, C.F., Bussin, M., & Geldenhuys, M. (2017). The functions of a servant leader. Administrative Sciences, 7(5). doi: 10.3390/admsci7010005.

Coetzer, C.F., Bussin, M., & Geldenhuys, M. (2017). The functions of a servant leader. Administrative Sciences, 7(5). doi: 10.3390/admsci7010005.


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