Changes in the global management paradigm have affected one of the most important components of management – the leadership process.
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A great example of a modern model of ethical leadership is the concept of servant leadership. According to Kumar (2018, p. 44), “servant leadership is about finding satisfaction and motivation by prioritizing and serving other’s needs”. Servant leader sees their purpose in the role of a helper, therefore, making the principle of service his leadership behavior base. Langhof and Güldenberg (2019, p. 45) claim that “this servant-led culture, in turn, positively influences team performance and employees’ work’ engagement”. Thus, transforming the approach to leadership is an essential prerequisite for changing the culture in a company.
There is a deep ideology behind the concept of servant leadership that can help businesses move away from obsolete models. Chiniara and Bentein (2018, p. 333) suggest that “servant leadership induces low perceived differentiation in leader-member relationship quality within a group, which strengthens team cohesion and in turn positively influences team task performance”. Servant leaders see a deep, complex and socially significant goal for which they are ready to serve people. Al-Asadi et al. (2019, p. 479) highlight “the significance of embracing more altruistic leadership approaches such as servant leadership in promoting employee job satisfaction”. Servant leadership, obviously, offers a truly proactive management strategy. Moreover, Allen et al. (2018, p. 13) suggest that “empowering work conditions are associated with increased organizational commitment even when the employee does not experience the job as personally meaningful”. The essential difference that distinguishes this leadership model from any other is that servant leaders act for the benefit of their followers, of organizations and societies they belong to.
The contingency approach, for example, states that organizational success does not depend on the leader’s abilities, thus claiming the leader as just one of the variables that only give effect when paired together. However, Ji and Yoon (2021, p. 39) suggest that “the source of organizational competitiveness has changed from existing systems and control mechanisms to the management and utilization of strategic human resources”. This theory mostly erases the impact of a leader, diminishing their role as the driving force of an organization.
Another type of leadership is presented by the situational theory – this one focuses more on the behavior that the leader must exhibit when there are situational factors present. It renders the complex process of leading to 4 basic processes which depend on the task that needs to be executed. Stollberger et al. (2019, p. 13253) whereas demonstrate that “manager behaviors have an extended reach and not only influence their direct reports, but act through them, and affect the work performance of employees at lower levels”. While it offers a more deliberate approach than contingency theory, the situational theory still prefers situation over the leader in the process of making decisions.
In a time of a pandemic or a crisis, contingency leadership would rely heavily on the employees’ performance and could fail considerably due to unbeatable external factors such as lockdowns or economy failure. In the meantime, the situational theory would, too, depend on the competence of the organization’s workers. Seeing that there is no predetermined strategy of management during pandemics or a crisis, an organization’s leader would struggle greatly with maintaining the business’ stability.
Whereas with the servant approach, Song (2018, p. 262) claims that “the awareness of a servant-leader, as a vigilant type of consciousness, can be aware of self, others, relations, spirit, situation, and time”. Of course, there are, too, cons to using servant leadership: it is not an easy-to-use approach and the principle of service is not feasible in all organizations. Moreover, this kind of leadership can be perceived as too “soft”, and excessive attention and empathy can lead to indecision or lack of vision. However, Jang and Kandampully (2017, p. 135) argue that “servant leadership may enhance affective organizational commitment, which ultimately contributes to reducing the employee turnover intention”. Therefore, if applied thoughtfully, servant leadership still presents more merits to an organization than other non-supportive models.
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Al-Asadi, R. et al. (2019) Impact of servant leadership on intrinsic and extrinsic job satisfaction. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 40(4), pp.472–484. Web.
Allen, S. et al. (2018) Exploring a model of servant leadership, empowerment, and commitment in nonprofit organizations. Nonprofit Management and Leadership, 29(1), pp.123–140. Web.
Chiniara, M. & Bentein, K. (2018) The servant leadership advantage: when perceiving low differentiation in leader-member relationship quality influences team cohesion, team task performance and service OCB. The Leadership Quarterly, 29(2), pp.333–345. Web.
Jang, J. & Kandampully, J. (2017) Reducing employee turnover intention through servant leadership in the restaurant context: a mediation study of affective organizational commitment. International Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Administration, 19(2), pp.125–141. Web.
Ji, Y. & Yoon, H.J. (2021) The effect of servant leadership on self-efficacy and innovative behavior: verification of the moderated mediating effect of vocational calling. Administrative Sciences, 11(2), p.39. Web.
Kumar, S. (2018) Servant leadership: a review of the literature. Pacific Business Review International, 11(1), pp.43–50.
Langhof, J.G. & Güldenberg, S. (2019) Servant leadership: a systematic literature review—toward a model of antecedents and outcomes. German Journal of Human Resource Management: Zeitschrift für Personalforschung, 34(1), pp.32–68. Web.
Song, J.Y. (2018) Leading through awareness and healing: a servant leadership model. The International Journal of Servant-Leadership, 12(1), pp.245–284.
Stollberger, J., Las Heras, M. & Bosch, M.J., (2019) Serving followers and family? A trickle-down model of how servant leadership shapes work performance. Academy of Management Proceedings, 2019(1), p.13247. Web.