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Servant Leadership Case Solution

Solution Id Length Case Author Case Publisher
1392 654 Words (4 Pages) Dr. Dirk van Dierendonck
This solution includes: A Word File A Word File

Leadership theory has witnessed a transition over the years from a transformational theory to a more relationship based, global and ethical perspective. In 1970, Greenleaf coined the term servant leadership that has gained significance importance in today’s day and age. Unique from other leadership theories, servant leadership outlines the importance of followers and the relationship between the leader and member. Influence is considered the key element, however, the leader-follower relationship has been given immense importance overtime when discussing leadership theories. Despite the emergence of the term four decades ago, still there is no consensus about the definition of servant leadership (Dierendonck, 2011). In 2005, Block (2005) outlined the definition in a conference called International Servant Leadership conference. Post that, several writers and theorists have coined their own versions of the definition. Due to this, there have been several interpretations of the term and the article aims at clearing the confusion regarding the definition. Key servant leadership characteristics are outlined and literature compared to arrive at a general understanding of the term.  

Following questions are answered in this case study solution

  1. Describe the historical development of servant leadership as outlined in this article.

  2. How are concepts from the Leader-Member Exchange theory incorporated into the development of servant leadership?

  3. How is leader motivation to serve incorporated into the servant leadership model? How is this consistent with personality research in leadership?

Case Analysis for Servant Leadership

2. Leader-Member Exchange Theory

The leader-member exchange theory highlights that the relationship between a leader and member is a two-way dynamic relationship that consists of various exchanges between the two parties. The quality of these relationships impacts the productivity and performance of the followers or members. The relationship is based on trust and respect whereby the leaders provide support and mentoring to the followers to which followers in return deliver and achieve goals and objectives (Lunenberg, 2010). Servant leadership requires several motivational and behavioral approaches to model servant leadership to which the leader-member exchange is integral. Motivation-to-serve and servant leadership are positively connected to servant leadership through the cognitive dissonance theory and the social consistency theory that further reflects on the motivation-to-serve and motivation-to-lead. This in turn draws from the concepts of leader-member exchange and forms a basis for the theoretical reasoning behind servant leadership. The primary motive for servant leadership is to serve the subordinated and the followers for which understanding of the leader-member exchange theory is crucial (Yildiz & Yildiz, 2016).

3. Motivation to Serve

Greenleaf (1977) outlined that motivation to serve forms a basis on which motivation to lead surfaces. Alternatively, a motivation to lead would also eventually result in a motivation to serve. The motivation comes from the interest and the existence of empathy for other people and this personality trait forms an important element of the servant leadership traits and characteristics. The motivational state to serve as a leader results in followers experiencing a higher leader-member exchange. From a leadership standpoint certain personality characteristics are crucial to be a successful leader. Amongst these include self-determination, moral cognitive development and cognitive complexity. Self-determination arises from three basic psychological needs, one being feeling connected to others which gives way to the motivation to serve. In moral cognitive development, the highest stage, i.e. stage six includes mutual respect that becomes a universal guiding principle. Lastly, cognitive complexity allows for a more accurate judgement on social situations and the understanding to act in a specific manner towards them (Witteloostujin, Esteve, & Boyne, 2016).

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