This theoretical paper proposes that a leaders’ leadership style and the values embedded in that leadership style are a vital impetus the leader is required to imbibe and practice, in order to effect change. Though theorist have propounded many leadership styles like charismatic, transformational, transactional, and servant leadership, this paper will focus on five values or characteristics rooted in the servant leadership style and its potential to implement positive change in any given organization.
The values to be addressed are stewardship, empathy, empowerment, persuasion, and foresight (Greengage, 1998). Values of Servant Leadership 4 Leadership and Leadership Styles The term leadership has evolved and its paradigms and structures are continually changing. Conversely leaders and organizations in the twenty-first century re still practicing and exhibiting the traditional paradigms of leadership (Herbert, 2005). Leadership is generally defined as the process and ability to influence followers to achieve a shared goal (Hay & Hodgkin, 2005).
Adding to the leadership literature, Roost (1991) propounds a theory stating a case that leadership is relational. His assertion is that “leadership is a dynamic relationship based on mutual influence and common purpose between leaders and collaborators in which both are moved to higher levels of motivation and moral development as they affect real intended change” (Roost, 1991, p. 21). In imprison both the traditional and propounded theory considers leadership as a relationship with an element of influence or persuasion which leaders use to pursue their purpose.
In addition, both definitions have a purpose or goal to be achieved that is said to exist when there is a group or two variables, in that, traditional leadership consist of a leader and follower(s) and leadership as a relationship has a leader and collaborator(s). The concept of leadership can best be understood when one is able to capture the various trends and approaches to leadership. In the early cays the Great Man theory of leadership was at the referent of how leaders were identified (Morehouse, 2007).
In this theory key characteristics of successful leaders were identified and this was eminent in certain individuals who had special innate qualities and characteristics that great social, political and military leaders possessed. This was used as a yardstick to differentiate them from non-leaders (Morehouse, 2007). Though various scholars have presented findings on leadership traits and characteristics, if a person seeks to be perceived by others as a leader, the five major leadership traits the person should possess or seek to develop are intelligence,
Values of Servant Leadership 5 integrity, sociability, self-confidence, and determination (Morehouse, 2007). As the phases of leadership progressed, it moved from the trait to the process approach, at this phase it was argued by some scholars that leadership can be learned, furthermore people possess the ability or set of abilities in varying degrees and as interaction prevails between leader and follower, leadership is being observed (Morehouse, 2007).
Following the subsequent developments in leadership, a claim was advanced with the view that leaders are assigned and they do emerge (Morehouse, 2007). The signed leader is a person who occupies a position within an organization. They can be directors, factory supervisors, team leaders and others appointed into a leadership position. Secondly, a person can be an emergent leader if she/he is perceived by others as the most influential member of a group or organization irrespective of the individual’s credentials (Morehouse, 2007).
Leadership Styles. The focal area of a leadership style is to analyses the behavior model of the leader, what the leader does and how the leader acts to influence others (Morehouse, 2007). Researchers have however concluded that leadership tiles comprise two general kinds of behaviors, namely, task behaviors and relationship behaviors. Leaders who tend to skew towards the task quadrant have at the top of their priority the goals to be accomplished, scheduling work activities, and establishing work policies and structures.
Conversely, leaders with a relationship-behavior leadership style, tend to nurture subordinates, create an atmosphere of solidarity and a strong emphasis on relationship (Morehouse, 2007). Since the environment within which leaders operate is not static but dynamic and subject to change, different situations will demand different minds of leadership styles, hence leaders must align their style to that of the subordinates competence and commitment (Morehouse, 2007). Values of Servant Leadership 6 This section will consider four leadership styles and expatiate on the primary values that distinguish servant leadership.
Transformational leadership is said to take place when leaders build, broaden, and raise the interests and commitment of their employees or followers towards a shared purpose and mission, and empower them (followers or employees) to accomplish those purposes and mission (Stone, Russell, & Patterson, 2003). A person who exemplified transformational leadership is Mother Teresa. Transactional leadership is the leadership style which involves the exchange of valuable things and contractual agreement between the leader and the follower or employee in other to achieve a win-win balance in objective (Morehouse, 2007).
Charismatic leadership according to Hay & Hodgkin (2005) purports an ability to develop and communicate an inspiring vision through persuasive rhetoric and dialogue as a means of gaining compliance and support from followers to achieve their vision. It can be said that DRP. Martin Luther King, Jar. Was a charismatic leader. In the theory of servant leadership, Greengage (1998) stated, ‘the servant- leader is servant first”, has a natural desire and feeling to serve, and a “conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead” (p. 4).
The founder of World Vision, Bob Pierce, can be conceded a preeminent servant leader. Servant Leadership Servant leadership approach can be traced back to biblical scripture that refers to Jesus Christ as the epitome of a servant leader. Biblical scripture recorded Jesus’ words in Matthew 20:25-26 stating “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant” (Billingsgate. Com, NIB).
Furthermore, observing the changes that were taking place during the demise that characterized the Values of Servant Leadership 7 industrial revolution which started in the late eighteenth century, Frederic Taylor had to develop a scientific and systematic approach to work by analyzing human behavior at the work place; this was termed scientific management (Imitating, 1979). According to him, productivity will greatly increase if workers are to work like machines hence; Taylor measured ND timed work based on each activity in a process that became known as a ‘time and motion study’.
In spite of its economic development that characterized scientific management, critics were calling attention to the inhumane aspect of the progress, which led to severe labor conflict, apathy, weariness, and spent- in-vain human resources. These developments made a number of researchers to study the discrepancy between how an organization was expected to work against how the workers actually conducted themselves. One of the main critics of that time, Elton Mayo, said that this “estrangement” appeared from he violation of the social frameworks caused by industrialization (Imitating, 1979).
Most recently, ineffectual regulation, poor business practices, inequities in the global economic system and unethical leadership have been cited as major contributors to the global economic crisis (Dioramas, 2010). Hence, the need to examine the scope to which decisions and actions are supported by a system of acceptable ethical standards in varying circumstances (United Nations Development Programmer, 2001). The trends has also led to a shift away from the traditional autocratic and hierarchical forms of leadership, towards an emerging approach to leadership and service termed “servant leadership” (Greengage, 1998).
Greengage, (1998) purports that servant leadership: “begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant – first to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served. 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? ” (p. 4).
Advancing the argument further he admits the difficulty in implementing the servant leadership model in institutions, but states that the servant leadership model upholds critical Values of Servant Leadership 8 values of teamwork and community; participatory decision-making process; strong ethical values and caring behavior; and enhancing the personal growth of workers. Shoring up the servant leadership work by Robert K. Greengage, Larry Spears branded ten characteristics of servant leadership which he considers to be the hub to the development of servant-leaders.
The characteristics are: listening, empathy, leaning, awareness, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, commitment to growth of people, and building community. This paper has termed five of the characteristics of servant leadership as the values of servant leadership and these are stewardship, empathy, empowerment, persuasion, and foresight. Values of the Servant Leadership The values in servant leadership can well be best understood when a contextual framework is provided for the term “values”.
Lady & Karakul, (2002) defines ‘Values” as the attributes or things that are treasured and are important to or valued by a person or group. Kline (2005) purports that values, are enduring, transcending in situations and can further provide synergy and a sense of purpose to one’s behavior, and in addition, since values are normative standards, it’s a starting point for generating an adherence to a shared group purpose. Within the context of servant leadership, several authorities have outlined some values or attributes servant leaders are required to exhibit.
An outline is presented in the table below: Spears (1995, 2002) Listening; Empathy; Healing; Awareness; Persuasion; Conceptualization; Foresight; Stewardship; Russell (2001 ) Russell and Stone 2002) Functional Accompanying Attributes Attributes Vision; Communication Honesty; Credibility; Trust; Delegations; Service; Competence; Modeling; Stewardship; Appreciation Visibility; of others; Influence; Pioneering; Persuasion; Patterson (2003) visionary for the followers; Acts with humility; Trusting; Serving; Altruistic Dennis and Beckoner (2005) Vision; Humility; Trust; Love; Empowerment Vision; Credibility; Trust; Service; Modeling; Pioneering; Appreciation of others; Values of Servant Leadership 9 Commitment to growth of people; Building Community. Empowerment Integrity;
Listening; Empowerment Teaching; Encouragement Empowers followers; Agape Love; Table 1 : Attributes of Servant Leadership (Andersen, 2008) The core values of servant leadership to be addressed are stewardship, empowerment, empathy, persuasion, and foresight. Stewardship. Barbour and Wheeler (2007) asserts that the term “stewardship” has transcended the feudal era where the kingdom relied on the steward to train and hold the prince in high esteem to enable him be a successful king. In the contemporary era the term stewardship involves many of the same things. In an organizational context a steward is the person who assumes responsibility for that which is entrusted to him/her and prepares to maximize its utilization for organizational and societal good (Barbour & Wheeler, 2007). Empowerment.
Winston (2003) purports that empowerment is effected when the follower is provided with the power, authority, responsibility and resources to attain that which the follower wants to attain comparative to their vision within the organization. Adding to the concept of values of empowerment, Mellower (1995) states that empowerment involves explanation of expectations, responsibilities, goals, and permits self-direction and freedom to trial and failure. In practice and process, the servant leader is required to relinquish control and power to the follower and enable the follower to accomplish the tasks at hand. Empathy. As defined by Greengage (1977) is “the imaginative projection of one’s own consciousness into another being’ (p. 33). Servant leaders may use the value of empathy to understand others profoundly.
Servant leaders who are able to empathic with their followers can easily build trust because employees are respected and are treated as ends and not means to an end. Bob McDonald can be cited as having a stewardship value. The Chief Operating Officer of Procter & Gamble (P) Company admitted in a speech that his life’s purpose is to improve lives (McDonald, 2009). He added that, his work is to improve the lives of all 6. 5 Values of Servant Leadership 10 billion people in the world and this life goal led him to work with the Boy Scout when young, and become an officer in the U. S. Army, and then to join The Procter & Gamble Company. While in the army, he would ensure all his soldiers ate before he did.
According to him the idea was not that the food will run short but it was symbolic: to show the soldiers that their well-being was more important to him than his. The lesson here is that his aspect towards the needs of his subordinates will reciprocally earn him trust, hence fostering unity in purpose for shared goals. Persuasion. The servant leader is effective in persuading and building consensus for group and organizational decision making. The values of persuasion underpin commencement rather than coercion and one’s positional authority (Greengage, 1998). Since persuasion does not come from positional power, servant leaders would have to be good listeners and be very articulate in order to convince their followers.
Persuasion at the workplace creates an environment of respect for the dignity of others, ND further creates ownership for leaders and followers in decisions that are made (Greengage, 1998). Foresight. This value of servant leadership aids the servant leader to use experiences, from the past, present realities and likely future outcome of decisions, in a nutshell “foresight is the lead that the leader has” (Greengage, 1998. P. 7). Greengage (1998) acknowledged the difficulty in defining the possible outcome of a situation, but was quick to add the potential to identify one. A servant leader with foresight can identify followers or employees who may be finding difficulties with their work, and reach out to help hem. Evaluation Values are critical in determining the leadership model one is exhibiting.
The challenge is how a leader will be able to develop personal moral values, within a family, society, organization, and country in a crisis of moral decadence. Notwithstanding its potential of effecting positive change, some scholars and theorists have claims and arguments Values of Servant Leadership 11 against the concept of servant leadership. A major criticism of servant leadership is that it lacks support from “published, well-designed, empirical research”. Rather; most theories in support of the incept are subjective in nature (Morehouse, 1997, p. 245). Greengage (1998), an authority in servant leadership also acknowledged that foresight, a characteristic of servant leadership is a large unexplored area of leadership.
Socio-culturally, the Ghanaian paternalistic approach towards traditional kingship and the hierarchical structure of most organizations often propels most leaders to uphold values of the centralized forms of hierarchical power and positional influence. Hence such trends present a significant challenge to practicing servant-leadership as a leadership model in Ghana. It is therefore obvious that revert leadership will not thrive in a hierarchical organization. Furthermore, the values of empowerment where the servant leader is required to allow the follower to be self-directed and have the freedom of trial and failure as stated by Mellower (1995), contradicts the McGregor Theory X concept of leadership, where failure is followed up with a punitive action.
In a situation where an organization is to implement a tactical decision of increase sales within a period of two years, the leader may not have the luxury of time to entertain failure, trials and unproductively. While persuasion may be applicable in some tuitions, for instance where an organization needs to undertake a long term strategic plan, persuasion which is a value of servant leadership may not be very applicable, when a short term tactical decision needs to be made. This is because organizations at this stage of their operations cannot entertain the time consumption which may arise as a result of wanting to persuade a person who may even have an entrenched position.
Trial and failure might be condoned because, progressively the follower can learn and mature to a more appreciable level of capacity and eagerness to handle crucial situations. Values of Servant Leadership 12 Transformational leadership, transactional leadership, charismatic leadership and servant leadership herein reveal some differences and similarities. Though all the four leadership styles can lead to change in the long term, transactional leadership style focuses on the expected or agreed results from subordinates, hence making no room for subordinates or followers to perform beyond expectations. In this regard transactional leadership, in the long term, does not bring about a sustained change (Spears, 1995).
One must also be quick to note that the practicing servant leadership will e impossible, unless one develops a servant’s heart and knows how to develop and empower others. Conclusion As organization evolves, so is leadership hence the need for strong commitment to values and attitudes that empower rather than coercion and enforced regulations. Many critics have questioned the practicability and implementation of servant leadership within the work environment, citing reasons such as hierarchical power in organizations, paternalistic coloratura system of some societies, and inadequate organizational research on servant leadership among others.
That outstanding one cannot question the benefits of having competent leaders who also espouse values, attitudes, and such inner qualities as stewardship, empathy, empowerment, persuasion, and foresight. These values are often the products of having cultivated a highly ethical and moral character. Leadership has gone through several phases beginning from the “Great Man” theory based on the belief that leaders are exceptional people, born with innate qualities, destined to lead, through to the traits approach, where lists of traits or qualities associated with leadership, were purported. Then came the behaviorism theories where different patterns of behavior was observed and categorized as ‘styles of leadership’.
As the research on leadership progressed, the situational approach took centre stage, where leadership was viewed as being specific to the situation in which it is being exercised. Values of Servant Leadership 13 Contingency theory focused on identifying the situational variables which best predict the most appropriate or effective leadership style to fit a particular circumstance. Later, when the transactional theory emerged, the focus was on the mutual benefits derived from a form f ‘contract’ through which the leader delivers such things as rewards or recognition in return for the commitment or loyalty of the followers. As organizations yearn for change leaders must endeavourer foresee and implement the values embedded in the servant leadership model and set the pace for modeling ethical values in leadership.
The shift in the 21 SST century is gravitating towards ethics and morality, hence setting the stage for organizations and leaders to think and practice servant leadership. Servant leadership, though difficult to implement, can set the organizational culture by performing the tidewaters role and showing other members or followers in the organization how to serve, hence the servant leader models service through their own behaviors and styles, so that they are leading by doing, which inspires and motivates followers.