The followers' perspective on the benefits, challenges and perceived personal impact of a servant leader: A generic qualitative study

by Cox, Darcy S., Ph.D., CAPELLA UNIVERSITY, 2014, 105 pages; 3611723


Organizational effectiveness is ultimately dependent on the quality of its leadership. In 1970, Robert Greenleaf introduced the promising concept of servant leadership, a leadership model that professes that the most effective leaders are those motivated, not by personal desires or advancement, but by a natural impulse to meet the needs of others first. A gap exists in the literature concerning the perspective of the servant-led follower; an important question, given that without followers, there can be no leaders. This generic qualitative study begins to close this chasm by querying 10 servant-led followers about the benefits, challenges and perceived personal impact of following a servant leader. The findings contribute rich, qualitative data from the followers' perspective in the form of intimate reflections and stories that result in eight primary themes. Ultimately, the findings stress the importance of interpersonal relationships between the follower and the leader and the large number of benefits that cascade from that relationship. All employees want to feel valued and servant leaders know how to do this. The loyalty that they evoke is remarkable and over time the organizational culture that gets built is ethical, strong and sustainable. Actionable items are suggested for organizations interested in pursuing or perpetuating a servant-led culture.

AdviserDeborah Vogele-Welch
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsEthics; Management; Occupational psychology; Organizational behavior
Publication Number3611723

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