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Servant Leader Research Paper Essay


As a result of the information revolution commerce is being subjected to a rapid change in many businesses and not-for-profit organizations away from the more old-style dictatorial and tiered models of leadership and in the direction of servant leadership as a way of being in correlation with others. Servant leadership strives to involve others in decision making, is stalwartly based in principled and compassionate comportment, and augments the development of workforces while cultivating the compassionate and eminence of organizational life. It is argued that leaders who combine their motivation to lead with a need to serve display servant leadership.

Personal characteristics and culture are positioned alongside the motivational dimension. Servant leadership is demonstrated by empowering and developing people; by expressing humility, authenticity, interpersonal acceptance, and stewardship; and by providing direction. A high-quality dyadic relationship, trust, and fairness are expected to be the most important mediating processes to encourage self-actualization, positive job attitudes, performance, and a stronger organizational focus on sustainability and corporate social responsibility. This paper will examine the characteristics and concepts of servant leadership, with a comparison of servant leaderships to two other leadership styles,

The concept of Servant Leadership

The words servant and leader are usually thought of as being opposites. When two opposites are brought together in a creative and meaningful way, a paradox emerges. And so, the words servant and leader have been brought together to create the paradoxical idea of servant-leadership. The basic idea of servant leadership is both logical and intuitive. Since the time of the industrial revolution, managers have tended to view people as objects; institutions have considered workers as cogs within a machine. In the past few decades we have witnessed a shift in that long-held view. Standard practices are rapidly shifting toward the ideas put forward by Robert Greenleaf, Stephen Covey, Peter Senge, Max DePree, Margaret Wheatley, Ken Blanchard, and many others who suggest that there is a better way to lead and manage our organizations.

Servant-leadership, first proposed by Robert K. Greenleaf in 1970, is a conjectural agenda that promotes a leader’s principal incentive and role as service to others. Servant leadership is a very prevalent leadership model. The servant leader serves the person he/she leads, which infers that employees are an end in themselves rather than a means to an organizational purpose or bottom line. There are ten characteristics of servant leadership: listening, empathy, healing, awareness, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, commitment to the growth of people, and building community. Which enhances Servant leadership replacement of the former command and control models of leadership, and to be more focused on the needs of others. It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve.

Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. The best test is: do those served grow as persons: do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society; will they benefit, or, at least, not be further deprived? (Greenleaf, 1977/2002, p. 27) With that definition in 1970, retired AT&T executive Robert K. Greenleaf (1904-1990) coined the term servant leadership and launched a quiet revolution in the way in which we view and practice leadership. Three decades later the concept of servant leadership is increasingly viewed as an ideal leadership form to which untold numbers of people and organizations aspire. In fact, we are witnessing today an unparalleled explosion of interest in, and practice of, servant leadership.

Servant Leadership
A way of leadership that states the leader is destined to work for people and community.

Servant Leadership: What is Leadership?

Leadership is the process of using social influence to organize a group of people toward common goals. Leaders point to the path to achieve goals and lead groups in order to accomplish objectives. Leaders may or may not have formal authority. According to the trait theory of leadership, certain human traits make people better leaders. Those traits said to be found in the most effective leaders are: intelligence, adjustment, extroversion, conscientiousness, openness to experiences, and general self-efficacy.

Defining Servant Leadership

Servant leadership involves feeling responsible to the world and actively contributing to the well-being of people and communities. It begins with the feeling of wanting to serve. A servant leader looks at what people need and asks how to help people in order to solve problems and promote personal development. He or she places the main focus on people, because content and motivated people will be best able to reach their goals and fulfill expectations.

Characteristics of Servant Leadership

Larry C. Spears identified 10 characteristics that are central to servant leadership.· 1. Listening: Traditionally, and also in servant leadership, managers must have communication skills. A servant leader listens to subordinates and supports them in decision-making. 2. Empathy: A servant leader attempts to understand and empathize. Workers are considered not only employees but also people who deserve respect and appreciation for their personal development. 3. Healing: A great strength of a servant leader is the ability to heal oneself and others. A servant leader helps people solve problems and conflicts because they want to encourage and support individual personal development.

4. Awareness: A servant leader needs to cultivate general awareness and self-awareness.  Such leaders need the ability to view situations from integrated, holistic positions, resulting in a clearer understanding of ethics and values. 5. Persuasion: A servant leader does not take advantage of their power and status by coercing compliance; they try to convince the people they manage. This element distinguishes servant leadership from traditional, authoritarian models. 6. Conceptualization: A servant leader thinks beyond day-to-day realities, seeing past the limits of the business and focusing on long-term goals. 7. Foresight: Foresight is the ability to foresee likely outcomes, enabling a servant leader to learn about the past and understand the changing nature of the current reality.

8. Stewardship: Servant leadership is seen as an obligation to help and serve others. Openness and persuasion are more important than control. 9. Commitment to the growth of people: A servant leader is convinced that people have an intrinsic value beyond their contributions as workers. Therefore, he or she should nurture the personal, professional, and spiritual growth of employees. 10. Building community: A servant leader builds a strong community within the organization and wants to develop a true community among businesses and institutions.

2) Compare and contrast servant leadership with at least two other models of leadership.

Theory Comparisons

Discovering most favorable practices for gainful leadership consequences need not be caught up by the involvedness of the challenge to find an all-embracing leadership theory. In concern to the significantly significant leadership superiority of comprehensiveness, we can discover helpful attitudes contained by the perceptions of two chief leadership theories: transformational leadership and servant leadership. The application or use, of these two leadership deportments in a harmonizing manner has the prospective for manufacturing an effective interaction in respect to an all-encompassing leadership style. Servant-leadership is most often compared with transformational leadership, a leadership approach that causes change in individuals and social systems. In its ideal form, it creates valuable and positive change in the followers with the end goal of developing followers into leaders. Enacted in its authentic form, transformational leadership enhances the motivation, morale and performance of followers through a variety of mechanisms.

These include connecting the follower’s sense of identity and self to the mission and the collective identity of the organization; being a role model for followers that inspires them; challenging followers to take greater ownership for their work, and understanding the strengths and weaknesses of followers, so the leader can align followers with tasks that optimize their performance. This theory was introduced in 1978 by James MacGregor Burns, and later extended by Bernard M. Bass (1985). Like servant-leadership, transformational leadership has become a popular leadership model in recent years because of its emphasis on extraordinary leader characteristics and its humanistic valuation of followers. Some behavioral scientists have contend that transformational and servant-leadership theories are both rooted in the charismatic leadership framework developed by Max Weber in the late 19th and early 20th centuries (Smith, Montagno & Kuzmenko, 2004).

Indeed, both theories share the charismatic leadership model’s focus on leadership qualities and behavior. Transformational and servant-leadership, however, are not the equivalents of each other, nor is one an instance of the other (Stone, Russell & Patterson, 2003). Instead, they are complementary frameworks that share a focus on the individual, both in terms of appreciation of followers and of emphasis on leadership characteristics, but differ significantly in leader motivation, organizational objectives, measures of success, resulting cultures, and contextual appropriateness. Smith, Montagno and Kuzmenko (2004) posit that “the leader’s motivation for behaving is a critical distinction between the two theories” (p. 85). Where the transformational leader is ultimately motivated by the need to achieve organizational goals, the servant-leader is ultimately motivated by the need to support the self-actualization of followers.

In transformational leadership, the personal development and empowerment of followers is approached as a means for achieving the organizational goal; in servant-leadership, it is the goal. As a result, servant-leadership places a greater emphasis on people over production, and transformational leadership places a greater emphasis on the reverse. This results in different measures of success for the two theoretical frameworks. The differing emphases of the two theories also lead to very different cultural environments, according to Smith, Montagno and Kuzmenko (2004). Transformational leadership’s combined emphasis on performance and inspiration fosters an “empowered dynamic culture”, while servant-leadership’s emphasis on shared leadership and healthy follower relationships creates a “spiritual generative culture” (p. 86). Both cultures are markedly different, suggesting the two leadership styles may differ in contextual appropriateness.

Similarities and Differences

Is there a real difference, if any, between transformational leadership and servant leadership? Is servant leadership just a subset of transformational leadership or vice versa? Are transformational leadership and servant leadership the same theory, except for their use of different names? The side-by-side comparison reveals that transformational leadership and servant leadership have relatively analogous characteristics. Perhaps this is because both transformational and servant leadership are attempts to define and explain people-oriented leadership styles. According to both concepts, their leadership frameworks incorporate: (a) influence, (b) vision, (c) trust, (d) respect or credibility, (d) risk-sharing or delegation, (e) integrity, and (f) modeling. Both transformational leadership and servant leadership emphasize the importance of appreciating and valuing people, listening, mentoring or teaching, and empowering followers.

In fact, the theories are probably most similar in their emphasis upon individualized consideration and appreciation of followers. In comparison, transformational leadership and servant leadership do have points of variation. There is a much greater emphasis upon service of followers and service to followers in the servant leadership paradigm. Furthermore, while both transformational leaders and servant leaders are influential, servant leaders gain influence in a nontraditional manner that derives from servanthood itself (Russell & Stone, 2002). In so doing, they allow extraordinary freedom for followers to exercise their own abilities. They also place a much higher degree of trust in their followers than would be the case in any leadership style that required the leader to be somewhat directive.

The Difference

Are there any real differences between transformational leadership and servant leadership, our position is that the concepts hold many similarities, and they are complementary theories in many respects. Nonetheless, they ultimately form a distinctly separate theoretical framework of leadership because of a primary difference. The principal difference between transformational leadership and servant leadership is the focus of the leader. While transformational leaders and servant leaders both show concern for their followers, the overriding focus of the servant leader is upon service to their followers.

The transformational leader has a greater concern for getting followers to engage in and support organizational objectives. The extent to which the leader is able to shift the primary focus of his or her leadership from the organization to the follower is the distinguishing factor in determining whether the leader may be a transformational or servant leader. Furthermore, we proffer that this primary distinction influences other characteristics and outcomes, giving rise to secondary differences between the concepts.

Servant Leadership vs. Authentic Leadership: What are the Differences? written by: N Nayab•edited by: Jean Scheid•updated: 6/8/2010

Authentic leadership is a concept introduced by management expert Bill George in his 2003 book “Authentic Leadership” and developed further in the later book “True North.” George describes authentic leadership as a leadership style that is consistent with a leaders’ personality and core values, and that is honest, ethical and practical. Both servant leadership and authentic leadership are positive leadership concepts that have much in common. The major difference between servant leadership and authentic leadership lies in approach, application, and style. slide 1 of 6

What is Authentic Leadership and Servant Leadership?

Bob Terry, in his book “Authentic Leadership: Courage in Action” (1993) defines authentic leadership as knowing and acting on what is true and real inside the leaders self, team, and organization, along with knowing and acting on what is true and real in the world. Authentic leaders are confident, hopeful, optimistic, and resilient individuals deeply aware of how they think and behave. Such people display a high level of integrity and remain committed to building an organization through purpose, value, heart, relationships, and self-discipline. Servant Leadership is a positive leadership model that has emerged out of the root concept of authentic leadership.

Robert Greenleaf, in his 1970 essay “The Servant as Leader” describes servant leaders as individuals with a natural inclination to serve. Such people make a conscious choice to lead to serve rather than lead to gain power or acquire material possessions. They try to serve their organizations through characteristics such as listening, empathy, healing relationships, awareness, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, commitment to human resource development, and commitment to building community. slide 2 of 6

Similarities between Servant Leadership and Authentic Leadership Servant leadership and authentic leadership have many characteristics in common. Both leadership styles: Genuine desire to serve others and are interested in empowering the people they serve Place a high importance on values and remain guided by qualities of compassion, and passion Refuse to compromise on principles

Place high importance on establishing relationships with people Rely on their personal charisma to get things done  Leaders lead from personal conviction rather than a desire for status or reward Focus on building people’s strengths rather than focusing on what is wrong with people and their weaknesses The basis of both authentic leadership and servant leadership lie in either explicit or implicit recognition of the leader’s self-awareness and the focus on integrity, trust, courage, and hope. While these remain established traits in authentic leadership, they remain largely theoretical and not supported by empirical research in servant leadership model. slide 3 of 6

Difference between Servant Leadership and Authentic Leadership in Approach The fundamental difference between servant leadership and authentic leadership lies in the approach. While servant leadership strives to be “right,” authentic leadership strives to be “real.” Servant leadership is a normative leadership style that lays down set characteristics that all leaders are supposed to emulate to attain success and tries to shape the character and personality of the leader to such values. Authentic leadership on the other hand, is character driven and does not recognize leadership styles or a fixed set of characteristics that leaders are supposed to emulate. The authentic leadership theory holds that each leader has their own unique style developed through study, experience, consultation and introspection, and consistent with their character and personality. slide 4 of 6

Difference between Servant Leadership and Authentic Leadership in Application A major difference between authentic leaders vs servant leaders relate to serving others needs. The core principle of servant leadership is to give priority to the interest of others. The primary duty of the leader is to serve others by fulfilling their needs, aspirations, and desires. Authentic leadership on the other hand does not encourage the leader to be too responsive to the desires of others on going overboard to meet the desires of each individuals create problems such as: Organizational goals suffering due to competing interests

Danger of deviating from course of action

Leader not making difficult decisions due to fear of offending slide 5 of 6

Difference between Servant Leadership and Authentic Leadership in Style Servant leadership’s one-dimensional approach does not change in response to the situation. This leadership style recommends listening, persuasion, and empathy even during times of grave crisis. Authentic leaders are more proactive and adapt their style to fit the immediate situation. Such leaders can be inspiring and motivating on one occasion, and tough about people-related or financial decisions on another occasion. While both servant leaders and authentic leaders look for opportunities to partner with individuals and groups to address organizational, societal, and environmental issues, the difference between servant leadership and authentic leadership is that authentic leaders foster innovation better and help their organizations discover unique and creative solutions to issues. slide 6 of 6

What Is an Authentic Leadership Style?

Authentic leadership is a concept introduced by management expert Bill George in his 2003 book “Authentic Leadership” and developed further in the later book “True North.” George describes authentic leadership as a leadership style that is consistent with a leaders’ personality and core values, and that is honest, ethical and practical. An authentic leader is more interested in empowering employees than in money or personal power, and is guided by compassion and heart in everything they do. While many authentic leaders may have natural abilities, George emphasizes that anyone can become an authentic leader through hard work and developing their leadership qualities. Authentic leaders are dedicated to continued personal growth and committed to building lasting relationships and strong organizations.

Authentic leaders draw their inspiration from their own lives. An example: Starbucks’ founder Howard Schultz was inspired by his fathers’ struggles with poor health to make Starbucks the first American company to provide health care options to part-time employees. Schultz consciously used his life experiences to build a company that was a reflection of his personal values.

Related Reading: The Effects of a Manager’s Leadership Style

An authentic leader is not afraid to admit mistakes and work to overcome shortcomings. By facing their weaknesses and refusing to compromise with them, authentic leaders can find ways to overcome their weaknesses and this makes them stronger leaders.

An authentic leader develops her own leadership style, but this leadership style should not be overly rigid. An authentic leadership style is one that can adapt to changing circumstances and situations. You should also be able to delegate when necessary and not be afraid of changing the way that you do things to suit different situations. George suggests that to begin developing your authentic leadership style, you should begin by assessing yourself against the five qualities of an authentic leader. These qualities are: understanding your purpose, practicing your values, leading with your heart, establishing connected relationships and demonstrating self-discipline.

3) Describe the organization (e.g., industry, number of employees, vision, goals).

MDI being the service entity of the company actually is placed in the heart and soul of servant leadership.

4) Describe how servant leadership can be applied to your organization.

5) Explain how implementing servant leadership would impact the ability of the organization to realize its vision and accomplish its goals.

6) Explain how you might go about implementing servant leadership within your organization or within a specific part of the organization if you were the leader.

7) Identify the following (relating to implementing servant leadership within your organization): (a) Stakeholders who would be advocates or supporters. (b)Potential challenges or obstacles and how you would overcome them.

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