The world is crying out for ethical and effective leadership that serves others, invests in their development and fulfills a shared vision. Among the many leadership styles (i.e., authoritarian, benevolent dictatorship, participatory, etc.) the one that best represents the ideals embodied in the human factor (HF) is servant-leadership. According to Adjibolosoo (1994, p. 26).
The HF term . . . refers to a spectrum of personality characteristics and other dimensions of human performance that enable social, economic, and political
institutions to function, and remain functional overtime. Such dimensions sustain the workings and application of the rule of law, political harmony, disciplined
labor force, just legal systems, respect for human dignity and the sanctity of life, social welfare, and so on.
Servant leadership incorporates the ideals of empowerment, total quality, team building, and participatory management, and the service ethic into a leadership philosophy. In the words of the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership (1997, p. 4), this model of leadership emphasizes “increased service to others; a holistic approach to work; promoting a sense of community; and the sharing of power in decision making.” Servant-leaders must be value- and character-driven people who are performance and process oriented.
In view of these observations, the primary purpose of this chapter is to develop conceptual framework for assessing servant-leadership, an area that is under-researched in the abundant literature on servant leadership.
THE CONCEPT OF SERVANT-LEADERSHIP
The concept of servant leadership appears to be so complex as to defy simple definition it is multidimensional, rich in hues and wide ranging in its meanings. The servant leadership literature has freely borrowed terms from different disciplines. Religious terms such as God, soul, and spirit and psychological concepts such as personal growth, self awareness, and identify are mixed with management “buzz words” such as flat organization and shared vision.
Beginning students of servant leadership may find themselves in an uncharted terrain of surprising contrasts and strange topographies, where the only path is made by one’s own steps, and where familiar things take on different contours and textures. At times, they may feel that
they have entered the Jungian land of dreams, symbols, and metaphors.
Several authorities on servant leadership have suggested that to learn servant leadership, individuals need to undergo a journey of self-discovery and personal transformation. The secrets of servant leadership are gradually revealed to them through listening to their inner voices as well as the voices of those who have discovered the truth. In spite of these caveats about understanding the true nature of servant-leadership, we must nevertheless provide a clear and comprehensive, definition of servant leadership in order to measure it.
A servant leader may be defined as a leader whose primary purpose for leading is to serve others by investing in their development and well being for the benefit of accomplishing tasks and goals for the common good. Being just a service oriented person, in the traditional notion of servanthood, does not qualify one as a servant leader. Arlene Hall (1991, p. 14) has observed that “Doing menial chores does not necessarily indicate a servant leader. Instead a servant leader is one who invests himself or herself in enabling others, in helping them be and do their best.” In addition, servant leadership should not be equated with self-serving motives to please people or to satisfy one’s need for acceptance and approval. At the very heart of servant-leadership is the genuine desire to serve others for the common good. In servant leadership, self interest gives way to collective human development.
Servant leadership must not be seen as a model for weak leaders or “losers.” When the going gets tough or when difficult decisions have to be made, as is inevitable in all leadership situations, the servant leader must be just as tough minded and resilient as other kinds of leaders.
What distinguishes servant leaders from others is not the quality of the decisions they make, but how they exercise their responsibility and whom they consult in reaching these decisions.
Servant leadership is an attitude toward the responsibilities of leadership as much as it is a style of leadership. It is most often presented and understood in juxtaposition to autocratic or hierarchical styles of leadership. Servant-leadership takes into account the fact that traditional forms of leadership are inadequate for motivating today’s people to follow.
In today’s thinking about effective, productive, and enduring organizations, we can reorganize, restructure, or reengineer our organization to be more effective but it will not be successful for very long, unless change is first built on the preeminence of human resources. People and process will always be more important than tasks and organizational structure in accomplishing goals and productivity. Effective systems and processes are only effective if the people who make them work are effective. Highly motivated and well trained human resources provide the only assurance that any organization will be effective in accomplishing its goals. Servant-leaders
motivate followers through investing in them and empowering them to do their best. Our conceptual framework of servant-leadership is illustrated in Figure 5. 1.
Leadership begins from within (Bender, 1997). Character is what kind of people we are. In servant-leadership, this means a fundamental commitment to serving others with integrity and humility. It is placed at the core of the circles because everything else a leader does flows from this inner reality. Followers demand it and leaders must live it. As a former head of the New York Stock Exchange explained, “The public may be willing to forgive us for mistakes in judgment, but it will not forgive us for mistakes in motive.” (Decrane, 1996, p. 252). Our motives stem from our character, which dictates what we do and how we lead.
No one can lead without having followers as leaders must influence those around them to accomplish tasks. People-orientation describes how the servant-leader relates to others; it is concerned with the social emotional aspects of leadership. Having a people-orientation means more than people skills, because it involves having a heart for others and showing an interest in developing their potential.
Task-orientation is concerned with how a leader does his or her work. This includes the tasks and skills typically associated with management and leadership, such as initiating, decision-making, visioning, and implementing. Most research has identified people and task orientation as the two major dimensions of leadership. Process-orientation deals with how the servant leader impacts organizational processes through modeling, team building, and open decision making.
Servant-leaders “walk the talk” and are accountable for what they do. They achieve institutional objectives by fostering a community spirit, seeking the common good as a prime motivation, seeing work as a partnership of service, and exercising good stewardship of resources.
According to our conceptual framework, character is central to servant-leadership. It is the fundamental attitude of servanthood that influences how leaders work with followers and how they carry out the task of leadership. Too often, leaders have been task or process oriented without the heart for serving others. To appreciate what servant leadership entails that is so different from command and control types of leadership, we have constructed in Table 5.1 a summary comparison of some of the extreme differences in attitudes and attributes in these two leadership paradigms.
In practice, even servant-leaders will not always be in the right hand column, as different situations will require a blending of command and servant-leadership. For example, when there is an extreme emergency requiring instant decision-making for the sake of saving lives or winning a war, it may not be in the best interest of followers for their leader to spend a lot of time in consultation and debate, However, in the normal running of affairs, the overall pattern of attributes of the servant-leader stands in stark contrast to command-and-control leadership (See details in Table 5.1).
The Contrast between Command-Leadership and Servant-Leadership
James Kouzes and Barry Posner, in their book, Credibility: How Leaders Gain and Lose It, Why People Demand It, describe the characteristics of Contemporary leaders who are looked up to. According to Kouzes and Posner (1993, p. 185).
Leaders we admire do not place themselves at the center; they place others there. They do not seek the attention of people; they give it to others. They do not focus
on satisfying their own aims and desires; they look for ways to respond to the needs and interests of their constituents. They are not self-centered, they concentrate on the constituent…. Leaders serve a purpose and the people whohave made it possible for them to lead…. In serving a purpose, leaders strengthen credibility by demonstrating that they are not in it for themselves; instead, they have the interests of the institution, department or team and its constituents at heart. Being a servant may not be what many leaders had in mind where they choose to take responsibility for the vision and direction of their organization or team, but serving others is the most glorious and rewarding of all leadership tasks.
Servantl eadership cannot prevail, however, unless there is a fundamental change in organizational attitudes and behavior. In this new organizational structure, the leader becomes the soft glue that holds the organization together as a virtual community working together. “The glue,” points out organizational guru, Charles Handy (1996, pp. 7-8), “is made up of a sense of common identity, linked to a common purpose and fed by an infectious energy and urgency.” That is the task for a leader who is taking his or her institution into the twenty-first century.
Critical to their success will be the creation of healthy and productive relations between the CEO and the employees, between the pastor and the congregation, between the president, the faculty, and students.
In servant leadership there is no such thing as “just a groundskeeper” or “just a secretary.” Everyone is part of a team working to the same end in which people play different roles at different times, according to their expertise and assignment rather than their position or title.
Although non servant leaders also perform many of the same tasks as servant leaders, there profound differences in how servant-leaders carry out their leadership tasks. For example, visioning is one of the necessary leadership tasks, but servant leaders have a different approach to visioning. Lad and Luechauer (1998, p. 64) point out this distinction:
Servant leaders typically have a passionate zeal for creating a preferred future. Then again, Hitler, Mussolini and Jim Jones all had visions. What differentiates
servant leaders from maniacal dictators is their deep desire to pursue this vision from the basis of humility, empathy, compassion, and commitment to ethical
behavior. In short, they articulate a vision and then enable, ennoble and empower those around them to work for the attainment of that vision. In essence, servantleadership represents a pull rather than a push model of vision attainment.
Stephen Covey (1998, p. xii) also points out that under servant-leadership, workers are driven by “. . . inner motivation towards achieving a common purpose . . . . The leader does this by engaging the entire team organization in a process that creates a shared vision that inspires each to stretch and reach deeper within themselves and to use their unique talents in whatever way is necessary to independently and interdependently achieve that shared vision.” Covey (p. xiii) emphasizes that there are other basic needs in addition to the profit motive: “What about the need to develop and use talent, the mind? What about the need for meaning, for purpose, for
contribution, for service, for adding value, for making a difference?” Jim Collins and Jerry Porras (1997, p. xii), in their book, Built to Last, also point out the importance of meaning and purpose. An exceptional institution that lasts and grows is “rooted in a set of core values, that exists for a purpose beyond just making money, and that stands the test of time by virtue of the ability to renew itself from within.” In sum, the vision articulated by servant-leaders expands into the realm of meaning, purpose, and self-transcendence.
Another important distinction is that servant-leaders promote shared vision, a concept that has gained increasing acceptance (e.g., Greenleaf, Covey, Senge, Block, McGee-Cooper, etc.). Servant-leaders advance shared-vision through personal example and appealing to higher ideals, such as serving the community.
Shared vision inevitably leads to teamwork. Riechmann (1992) stresses the importance of modeling. Excellent leaders in high-involvement and high-impact teams model for others by setting a personal example in meeting high standards, and invest considerable energy to champion the common goals of the organization. In effective teams, leaders empower others and foster collaborative efforts.
Servant-leaders do not stop with teamwork; they are also interested in community building beyond their organization. According to Bausch (1998), listening is the first step in conveying purpose in building community, but the leaders must articulate a vision and pursue it in a way that resonates with the workers.
The above discussion indicates that a servant’s attitude affects how leaders initiate and implement their leadership tasks. Servant-leaders should be excellent managers and leaders by any objective criteria, but what they do and how they do it are shaped by who they are.
LEADERSHIP OF THE FUTURE
In the organization of the future, leadership will be more widely distributed than centralized, but no less competent in producing results. Perhaps the analogy of a championship rowing team will help clarify the process. At the outset it may appear that a rowing team is just eight highly trained people going backwards as fast as they can, without communicating with each other, and steered by someone who cannot row. During the race, it appears that the person at the back of the boat is in charge. But there is also the “stroke” who sets the pace mid the standard that all the rowers must follow. When they are not racing, there is a captain of the boat who is responsible for choosing the crew, and for their discipline and motivation. But during the race, the captain is just another member of the crew. Then there is the coach, who is responsible for the training and development of the rowers. During the practice sessions, there is no question who is in charge as he bellows out orders through the megaphone from an adjacent motorboat. The point is that there is no one person who is designated as “the” leader. The role shifts according to the activity and
stage of the team. Titles will become less important than functions in the real operational chart of the organization. There also comes a point when the rowers are rowing in sync and the boat seems to lift itself out of the water that is the functioning of the perfect team that everyone should be striving for.1 The designated overall leader or CEO is ultimately responsible to everyone for the team’s performance in accomplishing the agreed upon tasks of the team.
Too many of the deficiencies that afflict modern organizations have been thought to be taskoriented problems when in fact they were process problems. We have focused on individuals or departments doing their tasks well instead of everyone seeking the functioning of the whole in order to produce the required result of the entire organization. As Hammer (1996, pp. 11-13) has described it so well in Beyond Reengineering:
It just won’t do for each person to be concerned exclusively with his or her own limited responsibility, no matter how well these responsibilities are met .When
that occurs, the inevitable result is working at cross purposes, misunderstandings, and the organization of the part at the expense of the whole. Process work
requires that everyone involved be directed toward a common goal; otherwise, conflicting objectives and parochial agendas impair the effort . . . . A company [or
any other organization or group effort] that does not resolutely focus on its customers [or members or recipients] and on the processes that produce value for
its customers is not long for this world.
The leader must consistently see as one of his or her primary responsibilities the care of those who are engaged in this process. As Hammer points out: “Process centering is not a project, it is a way of life.” (1996, p. 17).
Most organizations begin with a traditional pyramid structure with the leader at the top of the pyramid, since it is the leader who started the organization. To function within the servant leader model, however, the entire organizational structure must become fluid and function like the sand in an egg timer that flows both ways. When it comes to setting and maintaining the vision for the organization, the pyramid must have the designated leader at the top. Input into the vision, mission, and the organization’s goals and values, however, must be sought from others in the organization, who must come to own them. Once this has been accomplished, the pyramid
Each leader in the organization serves his or her followers by enabling them to reach their fullest potential for accomplishing the agreed to mission of the organization. Leaders become the cheerleaders, facilitators, and otherwise supporters for making those objectives happen through the efforts of others. As Ken Blanchard has pointed out concerning the leader of the future: “When you turn the pyramid upside down . . . the people become responsible, and the job of management is to be responsive to them. . . . If you work for your people, your purpose as a leader is to help them accomplish their goals” (1996, p. 85). Or, in the words of organizational guru Charles Handy (1996, p. 5), “The task of the leader is to make sure that the individuals or groups are competent to exercise the responsibility that is given to them, understand the goals of the organization, and are committed to them.”
Figure 5.2 provides a schematic diagram for understanding what we have called the Diamond Model for Practicing Servant Leadership. The leading CEO plays different roles depending on which way the pyramid is situated. It is up to the CEO to determine and engineer when the pyramid needs to be reversed. When the entire organization is functioning at its optimum, it will resemble the circle in the middle of the diamond in which the CEO becomes the first among equals for accomplishing the mission of the organization or the objectives of the team.
The CEO must be responsible for initiating the vision and direction of the institution in consultation with others in the organization. When agreement has been reached on the direction that the institution is heading in and its purposes, then the CEO can reverse the pyramid in order to invest in and serve others so that the mission can be accomplished. At this point, the CEO becomes one of many partners in a circle of partners who are equally committed to making the enterprise successful in its mission accomplishment. If the mission is to be changed or there is a significant change in personnel, then the CEO may decide to revert back to the beginning of the
process starting with the traditional pyramid structure. Thus the diamond model provides the flexibility for adjusting to the needs of the organization in accomplishing its mission over time and in different circumstances or situations.
Because servant leadership is so often misunderstood by those who reject this model, it needs to be emphasized that servant-leadership does not mean that leaders just work for followers who decide what when, where, and how to do something. Servant leadership has two distinct but inter-related aspects visionary and implementation components that work hand in hand with each other.
Leadership involves setting the direction and not aimless wandering with the expectation that somehow something important will happen out of one’s serving attitude. Servant leaders are always accountable for the results of their leadership to others (e.g., to a board of directors, stockholders, clients, owners, or another leader, depending upon the operational structure and purpose of the organization. The complex role of a servant leader will become clearer when we describe the various dimensions of servant leadership.
As the organization expands, so will the number of leaders who will organize teams or networks to work on many issues or components of the organization’s mission. A strong commitment to common values and attitudes will propel the organization rather than enforced regulations. The language of the organization will include terms such as empowerment, shared vision and teamwork. Servant leadership is consultative, relational and self effacing in nature.
Leadership is no longer the sole property of one person or some super-hero who makes all the decisions and arbitrarily tells others how to carry them out. Instead, we must think more collectively of a leadership that occurs among and through many people who think and act together on the entire process. It results in cross-functional teams whose decisions, designed to enhance the mission of the institution, will bring together a wider range of interests and lead to more creative solutions than would likely come from an individual leader.
It also provides for greater acceptance of the eventual course of action, for easier communication among supportive constituencies, and for the opportunity to discover and develop prospective leaders. The CEO is identified more by his/her responsibilities than by his/her position within the team, but that does not make the CEO any less responsible for the accomplishments of the organization as its overall leader.
THE CURRENT POPULARITY OF SERVANT-LEADERSHIP
The Indianapolis Business Journal recently announced that “Servant-leadership has emerged as one of the dominant philosophies being discussed in the world today.” Fortune magazine has hailed it as a growing movement that “works like the consensus-building that the Japanese are famous for.” As the New York Times explains it, “Servant-leadership deals with the reality of power in everyday life – its legitimacy, the ethical restraints upon it and the beneficial results that can be attained through the appropriate use of power.” (cited in Spears, 1995). Much of this media attention is largely due to the endorsement of servant-leadership by such well-known
writers on leadership as Ken Blanchard, Peter B1ock, Stephen Covey, Peter Drucker, James Kouzes, Barry Posner, Sheila Murray Bethel, M. Scott Peck, Peter Senge, and Max De Pree (Spears, 1995).
The modern notion of servant-leadership was certainly popularized, if not invented, by Robert K. Greenleaf, who has been hailed as the “grandfather” of the empowerment movement in management and business leadership. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, American university campuses were in a state of turmoil. It was an age of anti-authority and antiestablishment, when universities were unmercifully critical of all established leaders. As a consultant to businesses and universities on organizational management, Greenleaf was greatly troubled by crumbling institutions that were unable to heal themselves. As with many writers of this period, Greenleaf feared that rebellious youth would become too absorbed in dissecting wrong and too consumed by their zeal for instant perfection to add anything of lasting value to society. He recognized that students needed to be given hope and proposed that a better world could be created by changing the leadership paradigm. Thus, he yearned for a future when “leaders will bend their efforts to serve with skill, understanding, and spirit, and that followers will be responsive only to able servants who would lead them”(Greenleaf, 1997, p. 4). The new servant-leader had to be, a servant first and a leader second. The servant’s motivation was “. . . to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served” (Greenleaf, 1997, p. 13).
Since the publication of Greenleaf’s seminal work entitled: Servant Leadership: A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness in 1977, numerous authors have sought to explain and extend the paradigm of servant-leadership (e.g., Greenslade, 1984; Habecker, 1990; Hildebrand, 1990; Miller, 1987; Pollard, 1996; Sims, 1997; William, 1996). The concept of servant-leadership gained credence with the publication of Leadership in a New Era: Visionary Approaches to the Biggest Crisis of Our Time which brought together essays by 22 leadership experts, including a seminal essay by Larry C. Spears on “Servant-Leadership: Toward a New
Era of Caring.”(Spears, 1994). In 1996 the Drucker Foundation published the “Leader of the Future” with essays by Charles Handy, Ken Blanchard and C. William Pollard embracing servant-leadership and with most of the other 29 essayists recognizing its value for leaders for the future (Hesselbein, Goldsmith, & Beckhard, 1996).
There are also two excellent books published by the Robert K. Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership focusing exclusively on servant leadership. The first was Reflections on Leadership:
How Robert K Greenleaf’s Theory of Servant-Leadership Influenced Today’s Top Management Thinkers (Spears, 1995). This book provided ample testimony to the practical applications of servant leadership thinking in today’s world. The second volume, Insights on Leadership: Service, Stewardship, Spirit and Servant-Leadership (Spears, 1997), dealt more with the theoretical development of servant-leadership and its practical implications in many areas of contemporary society. None of these essayists attempted to measure servant- leadership or suggested ways for doing it. On the contrary, the very notion of measuring servant leadership was discouraged by one of the authors directly connected to the Greenleaf Center.
NEED FOR MEASURING SERVANT-LEADERSHIP
The Greenleaf Center says that “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 be servants?” (Spears, 1994, p. 156). Certainly, we can measure servant leadership in terms of its impact on people. But there is also a need to measure what servant-leadership is and how it achieves its positive results. If servant leadership is to become a sustainable movement, then there must be a. reliable and valid measure of this construct.
Various writers, such as Batten, Bottum, Kouzes, Covey and Spears, have identified various attributes of servant leadership. For example, Stephen Covey (1998, p. xvii) wrote: “If you really want to get servant leadership, then you’ve got to have institutionalization of the principles at the organizational level and foster trust through individual character and competence at the personal level. Once you have trust, then you lead people by coaching, empowerment, persuasion, example, and modeling. That is servant-leadership.”
While descriptions of servant leadership abound, to our knowledge there are no quantitative measures of this construct. One of the main reasons for this gap in the literature is the fear that of operationalizing servant leadership runs the risk of reductionism and trivialization of the concept. Don Frick of the Greenleaf Center believes that “if servant leadership is reduced to a collection of admirable qualities and learned skills that are displayed in organizational settings, it is all too easy to forget that servant leadership is, first about deep identity” (Frick, 1998, p. 354).
In other words, the profound, mystical meaning of servant-leadership may be lost once it is reduced to a set of easily transferable skills. This argument reminds us of the objections against any scientific study of romantic love. Critics claimed that love was to be best left to the poets and lovers, and it was too subjective and complex a subject to be studied scientifically. However, history has proved otherwise. Hundreds of studies have shown that romantic love can be quantified and that scientific inquiry has helped us gain a better understanding of the complex processes of passionate love (Hatfield & Rapson, 1993). By the same token, it is possible to quantity servant-leadership without losing sight of its deeper meanings. Scientific research does require operational definitions, quantification and reductionism, but it does not negate a holistic appreciation of the richness of the construct and its broad social implications.
According to Don Frick, another problem of reducing servant-leadership into a manageable checklist is that we may feel guilty and frustrated for not measuring up to this set of leadership ideals and that we may even project these ideals onto others; expecting them to do what we cannot attain ourselves (Frick, 1998). But this problem can be easily avoided by reminding people that high standards serve the dual purpose of encouraging the pursuit of excellence and monitoring progress. Individuals are unlikely to stretch and reach beyond their own expectations if they are not constantly challenged by high ideals.
Hammer (1996, p. 53) observes: “There is an enormous gap between intellectually understanding an idea and really appreciating what it means. The first is conceptual, the second is personal and experiential.” With respect to servant-leadership, the emphasis has always been on experiential understanding. Most of the writings on servant-leadership have been based on anecdotal observations, personal testimonials, and reflections. The message is typically inspirational laced with philosophical insights and practical advice. The spiritual fervor of the servant-leadership movement has outstripped its conceptual development. This imbalance between existential richness and conceptual rigor has hindered progress of servant-leadership as a viable model of management. By developing a reliable and valid instrument for measuring servant-leadership, we are attempting to make a significant impact on servant-leadership research. We also believe that the instrument can facilitate the development of servant-leadership by offering evaluative benchmarks.
MEASURING THE PROFILE OF SERVANT-LEADERSHIP
Kerr gleaned from management texts published between 1981 and 1983 several influential models of management and leadership, such as Fiedler’s Contingency Model, House’s Path-Goal theory, and Vroom and Yettan’s Theory of Leader Decision Making (Kerr, 1984). Servantleadership was rarely mentioned. The situation has not changed. In today’s major textbooks on management and organizational behavior, servant-leadership remains conspicuous by its absence, whereas all the prominent theories have received considerable research support (Fielder & House, 1988). The popular appeal of servant-leadership has not translated into academic respectability, because of its lack of a research base. To perpetuate the myth that servantleadership cannot be quantified will only limit its impact on generations of management students. Clark, Clark, and. Campbell (1992) have provided abundant evidence that leadership characteristics can be measured and studied scientifically. The Campbell Leadership Index, Javidan’s quantitative study of the profile of effective leadership, and Quast and Hazucha’s research on leaders’ Management Skills and their Team Success Profile are some of the notable examples (Campbell, 1991, 1992; Javidan, 1992; Quast & Hazucha, 1992).
Freeman, Knott, and Schwartz (1996) list about 80 inventories and questionnaires that measure leadership and different aspects of leadership behavior, ranging from leadership styles to leadership practices, Most of the instruments consist of a checklist of descriptors. A leadership checklist serves the same function as a physical checklist. It provides a quick assessment of both the areas of deficiency and the areas of strength. When used appropriately, a comprehensive checklist can enable individuals to take the necessary steps to overcome their deficiencies and acquire new skills. A well developed measure of leadership can be very useful, because of its
precision, reliability, and validity. At present, there are a number of well developed instruments. For example, benchmarks are designed to provide feedback for managers and executives; it is a 164-item, multi-rater instrument that identifies success factors, trouble spots, and suggests ways of leadership development (Lambardo & McCauley, 1993).
The, Campbell Leadership Index (Campbell, 1991) is a 100-item adjective checklist. It is a self/other rating instrument; respondents are asked to indicate on a 6-point scale how accurately each adjective describes the leader. The leader’s self-ratings are then contrasted with the observers’ ratings. The scores can be grouped into 22 standardized scoring measures and five orientations of leadership (Leadership, Energy, Affability, Dependability, and Resilience).
Since there are no instruments that explicitly measure servant-leadership, we have attempted to fill this gap. The present chapter represents a preliminary report on the development of such an instrument Our long term research goal is to develop a valid and reliable measure of servantleadership. We believe that such an instrument serves the following functions:
1. Provides a. comprehensive operational definition of the servant leadership construct.
2. Provides conceptual clarity and order to the servant leadership literature.
3. Provides a useful index of where one stands with regards to the development of servantleadership.
4. Serves as a training tool in teaching servant-leadership.
5. Facilitates accountability of servant leaders.
6. Stimulates scientific research on the impact of servant-leadership on various aspects of
organizational behavior and institutional health.
7. Provides useful information on leadership characteristics and behavior.
8. Facilitates accountability of individual and institutional leadership.
We totally agree with Kouzes and Posner (1995, p. 322) that leadership, including servantleadership, can be learned, Kouzes (1998) maintains that “leadership isn’t a position; it’s a process. It’s an observable, understandable, learnable set of skills and practices available to everyone anywhere in the organization.” After reviewing the relevant research literature, Clark and Clark (1992) concluded that leadership behaviors are transferable and that the effects of training tend to persist. If we can strip servant-leadership of its mystery and reduce it to quantifiable key components, we are better able to pass on the powerful knowledge of servantleadership to others.
Having affirmed that servant-leadership is learnable, we hasten to add that it cannot be easily accomplished with a “cookbook approach.” Mastering servant-leadership is a lifelong learning process. This is especially true with respect to such inner qualities as humility, integrity and a servant’s attitude. These attributes are often the result of having developed a highly moral and spiritual character. When individuals are set in their own ways and are totally absorbed in their pursuit of success and power, they may not be able to learn servant-leadership without some sort of awakening and conversion-like transformation.
The present study describes a self-assessment of servant-leadership that can easily be adapted for ratings by others. We believe that self-rating can be a useful leadership exercise in identifying areas that need improvement. Several researchers have shown that self-ratings of leadership performance are less able to predict actual performance than ratings by others, because leaders tend to rate themselves better than they really are (Campbell, 1992; Von Eron & Burke, 1992). However, their findings also indicate that the self-ratings tend to correspond to other ratings, thus providing some evidence for the concurrent validity of the former. In this chapter, we, begin with a description of the development of this self-assessment and then discuss the conceptual framework that informs this development.
Item Generation and Item Selection
On the basis of our extensive study of the literature on servant-leadership and our own experience in practicing this leadership style, each of us generated independently descriptors of servant-leadership. A total of 200 items were thus generated.
The first step of item selection was to eliminate redundant descriptors as well as items judged by both of us to be peripheral to the concept of servant-leadership. The second step was to combine and split items so that each item focuses on one unique aspect of servant-leadership. The final list contains 100 items. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it has incorporated most of the characteristics mentioned by leading authorities such as Spears and Batten. As research continues, some items may be added while others may be deleted.
Classification of the Items
The second author attached a tentative category label to each item, and then grouped all items according to these labels. Some of the categories with less than three items were combined with related categories, and the category labels were then rewritten to better capture the meaning of the items. This process of classification resulted in 12 distinct categories: Integrity, Humility, Servanthood, Caring for Others, Empowering Others, Developing Others, Visioning, Goalsetting, Leading, Modeling, Team-Building, and Shared Decision-Making. The first author then decided which items belonged to these categories: only two items were assigned to a different category, and these differences were resolved through discussion. These 100 items can be used in a self-assessment instrument as shown in Appendix A.
It is important to note that all these categories have been emphasized in the servant-leadership literature. For example, Spears (1998) lists ten characteristics of servant-leadership.
1. Listening – This encompasses listening receptively and attentively to what is being said, as well as listening to one’s inner voice.
2. Empathy – This is related to active listening. In addition, empathetic listeners also demonstrate acceptance and understanding of co-workers and subordinates.
3. Healing – True servant-leadership is a force of transformation, which provides healing to self and others, so that wholeness can be achieved.
4. Awareness -This attribute includes both general and self-awareness. A servant-leader not only understands the situation in a holistic way, but also understands his or her own limitations.
5. Persuasion – Servant-leaders seek to convince others and build consensus within groups; they do not use positional authority to coerce compliance.
6. Conceptualization – Servant-leaders demonstrate broad-based systems thinking and “provide the visionary concept for an institution” (p. 5).
7. Foresight – Servant-leaders “understand the lessons from the past, the realities of the present, and the likely consequence of a decision for the future” (p. 5).
8. Stewardship -This is based on Peter Block’s concept. He defines stewardship as holding the institution in trust for the greater good of society. Servant-leadership also stresses the need for leaders to serve the needs of others.
9. Commitment to the Growth of the People – Servant-leaders take an active interest in the growth and well being of every one in the organization; they take concrete actions to stimulate the personal and professional development of their workers.
10. Building Community – Servant-leaders not only build a sense of community among those who work within an institution, but also people in the larger society. According to Greenleaf (1991, p. 30), “all that is needed to rebuild community as a viable life form for larger numbers of people is for enough servant-leaders to show the way, not by mass movements, but by each servant-leader demonstrating his own unlimited liability for a quite specific community-related group.”
It is clear that all these characteristics have been incorporated in our list as per Table 5.2. For example, the first three characteristics correspond to our category of Caring for Others. Awareness is related to some aspects of our Integrity and Humility categories. Stewardship overlaps with our Servanthood category, while Commitment to the Growth of People is similar to our Empowering category.
A Conceptual Framework for Measuring Servant Leadership
I. Character–Orientation Being- What kind of person is the leader?)
Concerned with cultivating a servant’s attitude, focusing on the leader’s values, credibility and motive.
II. People-Orientation (Relating: How does the leader relate to others?)
Concerned with developing human resources, focusing on the leader’s relationship with people and his/her commitment to develop others.
• Caring for others
• Empowering others
• Developing others
III. Task-Orientation (Doing: What does the leader do?)
Concerned with achieving productivity and success, focusing on the leader’s tasks and skills necessary for success.
• Goal setting
IV. Process-Orientation (Organizing: How does the leader impact organizational
Concerned with increasing the efficiency of the organization, focusing the leader’s ability to model and develop a flexible, efficient and open system.
• Team building
• Shared decision-making
Batten (1998, p. 39) has also prepared a list of the characteristics of servant-leaders. His list includes goal-orientation, knowing how to lead a significant life based on “faith, hope, love and gratitude,” integrity, team work, enriching the lives of others, understanding and respecting others, having grace and forgiveness for others, and being tough-minded. Batten emphasizes the importance of forgiving and leading with passion. “The more we serve and build others, the better our own lives become. Three of the most key and crucial ingredients involved in passionate serving are caring, sharing, and forgiving” (Batten, 1998, p. 38). However, “passion is a powerful stuff and must be used by pivotal leaders in a disciplined, focused, and. mentally tough way. The real servant-leader of tomorrow is, above all, a thinker who acts with
passion” (Batten, 1998, p. 39). His list corresponds to most of our categories. Batten (1998, p. 40) proposes that servant-leaders dare to love and care passionately but they are also “flexible, pliant, lasting, durable, high quality, difficult to break expanding and strengthening with experience. The tough-minded personality has an infinite capacity for growth and change. Toughness and hardness are totally different.” His depiction of servant-leaders as being toughminded but tenderhearted is similar to our dual emphasis on leading and caring.
Bottum and Lenz (1998) have listed the guiding principles for business based on the Beatitudes. Their list includes the following: (1) self-transcendence; (2) service-sensitivity to the needs of others; (3) commitment to values; (4) achievement, productivity; (5) nurturing the positive in people; (6) integrity; (7) team-building, peacemaking, (8) growth through adversity, endurance. The attribute of integrity includes “genuine, sincere, open, authentic, trusting and trustworthy” (Bottum and Lenz, 1998, p. 159). They contend that these principles of servant-leadership would lead to high quality of products and services. These principles clearly resemble many of our categories such as Humility, Integrity, and Leading.
In addition, Bottum and Lenz also list the skills needed for the development of servantleadership. These skills include “communication skills and empathetic listening, conflictresolution, problem solving, consensus decision making, and community building” (Bottum and Lenz, 1998, p. 164). Their depiction of servant-leadership focuses on integrity and relationship skills, which are also emphasized in our classification.
THE FOUR ORIENTATIONS OF SERVANT-LEADERSHIP
The 12 categories of servant-leader characteristics can be readily grouped into four orientations as shown in Table 5.2. In the introduction, we have already alluded to these four orientations, which represent four common domains of leadership personality, relationship, tasks, and processes. These orientations are sufficient to encompass all descriptors in the Self- Assessment of Servant-Leadership and consistent with the literature.
After reviewing 50 years of leadership literature, Fiedler and House (1988) concluded that taskaccomplishment and interpersonal relationship are the two major categories of leader behavior.
Clark and Clark (1992) confirmed that the two general dimensions of “initiating structure” and “consideration” identified by the Ohio State studies (Stogdil and Coons, 1957) have received consistent research support. According to Sevy et al. (1985), authors of the Management Skills Profile, “initiating structure” includes planning, organization, influencing, while “consideration” includes human relations, motivating others, and listening. These two general categories correspond to our task-orientation and people-orientation. However, from the perspective of servant-leadership, people-orientation includes more than people skills and caring for others; it
also includes the cultivation of intellectual capital, personal growth (Greenleaf; Spears), developing human resources (Ulrich, Losey, and Lake, 1997) and empowerment. According to Campbell (1992, p. 26), “the task of empowerment is to select, develop and share power with subordinates committed to the organization’s goals.”
Fiedler and House (1988) also confirm that past research supports the contingency theory, which posits that effective leaders tend to exhibit different leadership behaviors according to the situation. The ability to adapt to contingency is enhanced in servant-leaders, because of who they are and how they carry out their leadership tasks. Servant-leaders are more concerned with producing results rather than protecting their own ego and they are aware of their limitations; therefore, they are willing to step aside and let the most qualified people do the job as demanded by the situation. Their belief in humility and flexibility facilitates contingency management.
Another area that has received considerable research support, according to Fiedler and House, is that personality matters. Certain personality traits, such as competence and self-confidence, tend to be associated with effective leadership. In contrast to other trait theories, the servantleadership model stresses the pivotal role of character.
This new focus on character has gained increasing recognition. Covey (1998) believes that once we have moved away from character and principles, we lose our moral bearing. According to Kouze and Posner (1993), credibility is the foundation of leadership. Gardiner (1998, p. 120) claims that “The revolution needed is one of integrity, being true to one’s inner being, to the Being of which we are all part.” The current emphasis on meaning, ethics, and spirituality in business settings further attests to the importance of integrity and character (Bausch, 1998; Conley and Wagner-Marsch, 1998; Wicker, 1998).
Process orientation has not received much research attention. It is similar to Campbell’s notion of the task of management which focuses on how to use all of an organization’s resources in a responsible and efficient way to achieve organizational goals. From the perspective of servantleadership, process orientation involves systems thinking, team working, and moving towards a common purpose. When leaders set an example of placing group goals above self-interests, they are able to develop a flexible, efficient open system to facilitate seamless organizational processes from beginning to end.
Our conceptual framework is able to integrate servant-leadership characteristics and the broad categories of effective leadership. Furthermore, this model, as outlined in Figure 5. 1, explains why having a servant’s attitude influences how leaders relate to others, perform their tasks, and impact organizational processes. Campbell (1992) points out the need to understand how leadership traits lead to the performance of leadership tasks. Our model indicates how character affects everything the leader does. Figure 5.1 illustrates that character is of central importance, and that from it flows the vision, compassion, as well the strategies needed to carry out the work of servant-leadership.
Greenleaf has consistently emphasized that who a person is matters more than what he or she does, because it is the inner qualities of the person that determine the quality of his or her performance. Christianity emphasizes the essential need of inner reality, because without rebirth and spiritual transformation, a person may learn how to act and speak like a Christian but still does not have the power to live a Christian life. Similarly, one does not have the inner strength or conviction to practice servant-leadership without having a servant heart, even if he or she has learned all the basic skills of servant-leadership.
THE RESULTS OF A PILOT STUDY
We administered the self assessment instrument to 6 male leaders in a Christian education setting, and 18 students (10 males, and 8 females) enrolled in a Leadership course. The means and standard deviations of these three groups are presented in Table 5.3. Given the unequal and small sample in each group, the results were not subjected to any inferential statistical analysis. However, it is interesting to note that male students’ self-ratings are closer to those of male leaders than ratings by female students. It appears that females may be more modest in their selfassessment. Future research should assess the discrepancies in various categories of the Servant Leadership Profile between self-ratings and observer-ratings.
We also calculated the alpha2 values for each sub-scale as well as the total assessment score. The alpha coefficients were as follows: Total (0.937), Integrity (0.796), Humility (0.656), Servanthood (0.761), Caring for Others (0.714), Empowering Others (0.765), Developing Others (0.916), Visioning (0.569), Goal-setting (0.768), Leading (0.837), Modeling (0.763), Team- Building (0.815), and Shared Decision-Making (0.802).
An alpha coefficient of 0.70 or higher indicates acceptable levels of internal reliability, which means that all the items in the same category measure the same attribute. According to this pilot study, the sub-scale of visioning has the poorest reliability; this can be improved by adding new items and rewriting some of the existing items. However, the overall results are encouraging.
The present self assessment instrument of Servant Leadership Profile is informed by both the existing literature and our conceptual analysis. We propose that self-ratings could be used for diagnostic and research purposes. Our conceptual framework and taxonomy of servantleadership facilitate quantitative studies of servant-leadership. Research is now under way to develop a reliable and valid measure of Servant Leadership Profile that includes both self-ratings as well as observer ratings. We firmly believe that the impact of servant leadership will be greatly enhanced when we can empirically investigate the Greenleaf s revolutionary concept of leadership.
We believe that leadership will be the primary factor in shaping human development and the course of human history and development. The scholarly debate of the last twenty years on the impact of leadership on organizations as opposed to organizational structures has come down decidedly on the side of the influence of leadership.3 As one of the most prolific contemporary speakers on leadership, John C. Maxwell, has said, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” Leadership can bond people together or drive them apart. It can create unity out of disorder or promote chaos. Leadership can make things happen or put a damper on all activities. It can inspire or destroy. It can be exercised by almost anyone but only a few seem to learn how to lead with a servant’s heart.
We believe that with encouragement, training, and a means of measuring leadership development more servant leaders will emerge and -they will be at the forefront of positive change promoters in society (Page, 1995). They will unlock the keys to harnessing the human potential for making the world a better place through their caring hearts and their desire to serve for the well being of others.
How is our model related to Adjibolosoo’s (1995) Human Factor (HF) model? Broadly speaking, the HF is concerned with the role of organizational behavior in economic development.
Considering the characteristics and responsibilities attributed to the HF, the main thrust is on ethical and competent leadership, which is essential to the development of institutions as well as society. Adjibolosoo has a lofty view of leadership that elevates the importance of integrity, accountability, dedication, and respect for human dignity. Servanthood is critical to the development of the appropriate HF characteristics. Our model of servant-leadership shares his idealistic view. According to our model of concentric circles (see Figure 5. 1), the influence of servant leaders extends far beyond personal growth and institutional success. As a result of their exceptional ethical behavior and excellent performance, servant leaders can have a profoundly positive effect on society, culture, and even the future of our civilization.
In conclusion, we suggest that the present conceptual analysis will bring some order and to the literature on servant leadership. We are able to integrate the four main domains of leadership, namely personality, relationship, task, and process, within the conceptual framework of servantleadership. Furthermore, we believe that the assessment of servant leadership, as informed by the present conceptual framework, will contribute to the human factor and economic development.
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Tire du texte: Don Page and Paul T. P. Wong
Trinity Western University,
Langley, B. C.