Changes in the global management paradigm have affected one of the most important components of management – the leadership process. 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.” A servant leader sees their purpose in the role of a helper, therefore, making the principle of service their leadership behavior base. Langhof and Güldenberg (2019) claim that “this servant-led culture, in turn, positively influences team performance and employees work’ engagement” (p. 45). Thus, transforming the approach to leadership is an essential prerequisite for changing the culture in a company.
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Initially, the term “servant leadership” was suggested in 1970 by R. Greenleaf in his book The Servant as Leader. He offered not so much a new model but a philosophy of leadership that changed the approach to the process of leading others significantly. The activity of the servant leader, as Greenleaf implied, is directed in the first place to help their followers grow. The emphasis on followers’ subsequent development has allowed a number of researchers – for example, Farling and her colleagues in 1999 – to classify the concept of servant leadership as transformational or transforming, It was due to the fact that in both approaches, a leader is a mentor who helps followers grow and develop.
At the same time, the effectiveness of the servant leader is expressed in the fact that their followers themselves begin to become servants. In other words, servant leaders are those who initially do not want to be leaders but become ones because others need it. This fundamentally distinguishes the servant leader from the “classical” leader, who initially wants to lead others. Thus, the concept of leadership as service differs from other leadership theories in that the basis for it is a specific view of the leader’s motivation.
There is a deep ideology behind the concept of servant leadership that can help organizations move away from obsolete models. Chiniara and Bentein (2018) 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” (p. 333). Servant leaders see a deep, complex, and socially important goal for which they are ready to serve people. Servant leadership, obviously, offers a truly proactive management strategy.
A good example of the implementation of servant leadership in a non-profit organization is the U.S. army. Al-Asadi et al. (2019) highlight “the significance of embracing more altruistic leadership approaches such as servant leadership in promoting employee job satisfaction” (p. 479). It is quite essential for the U.S. army nowadays, as military technologies become more and more advanced all around the world. The advantage in weapons is no longer enough to maintain the American position in the world. From there, a need for servant leaders arose, as they have the personal characteristics that allow them to unify people. Song (2018) 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” (p. 262). The servant approach allows these leaders to set aside their personal ambitions in order to maintain peace and ensure the success of any military mission. 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 the societies they belong to.
Al-Asadi, Rami, et al. “Impact of Servant Leadership on Intrinsic and Extrinsic Job Satisfaction.” Leadership & Organization Development Journal, vol. 40, no. 4, 2019, pp. 472–484., Web.
Chiniara, Myriam, and Kathleen Bentein. “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, vol. 29, no. 2, 2018, pp. 333–345., Web.
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Kumar, Sunil. “Servant Leadership: A Review of Literature.” Pacific Business Review International, vol. 11, no. 1, 2018, pp. 43–50.
Langhof, Jan G, and Stefan Güldenberg. “Servant Leadership: A Systematic Literature Review—toward a Model of Antecedents and Outcomes.” German Journal of Human Resource Management: Zeitschrift Für Personalforschung, vol. 34, no. 1, 2019, pp. 32–68., Web.
Song, JiYing. “Leading Through Awareness and Healing: A Servant Leadership Model.” The International Journal of Servant-Leadership, vol. 12, no. 1, 2018, pp. 245–284.