Academic journal article Journal of the Indian Academy of Applied Psychology

Journey to the Heart of Servant Leadership: Narratives in the Indian Context

Academic journal article Journal of the Indian Academy of Applied Psychology

Journey to the Heart of Servant Leadership: Narratives in the Indian Context

Article excerpt

Servant leadership is a concept that is attracting a broader audience throughout all kinds of organizations today. The need exists to define servant leadership and offer the academic community, as well as the corporate community, with a concrete perspective on servant leadership. The present research was conducted in this stride, specifically to explore servant leadership from the perspective of leaders and followers in organizational settings.

The term "servant leadership" was coined by Robert Greenleaf back in 1970 in his essay, The Servant as Leader. In this work he presents the notion that "the great leader is seen as a servant first, and that a simple fact is the key to his greatness".

Greenleaf's initial premise was as follows:

1. The leader is a servant first.

2. The servant first makes sure that the highest priority needs of others are being met.

3. Success comes when those who are served become healthier, freer, more autonomous, and wiser and as a result become servants themselves.

4. A servant can only become a leader if a leader remains a servant.

The real uniqueness of actions of servant leaders comes in the doing. In the light of such an understanding of leadership, it will increasingly become important for servant leadership researchers to examine servant leadership from the follower perspective. The present research is an attempt to understand both, followers' as well as the leaders' perspective.

Characteristics of a Servant Leader

Several efforts have been made to identify the fundamental behavioral and character attributes of servant leaders. Spears (1996) defined a set of ten characteristics of the servant-leader: Listening, Empathy, Healing, Awareness, Persuasion, Conceptualization, Foresight, Stewardship, Commitment to the growth of people, Building community.

According to Patterson (2003), servant leadership encompasses seven virtuous constructs, which work in processional pattern:

Agapao love: This is a Greek term for moral love. According to Winston (2003) it is to do the right thing at the right time and for the right reasons. Agapao, the verb form of the noun "agape," is "a love called out of one's heart by an awakened sense of value in the object loved that causes one to prize it" (Wuest, 1997).

Humility: To Patterson, humility is a peaceful virtue that rejects self-glorification and is an almost social reversal in that it purports the idea of serving.

Altruism: It is understood as leaders having concern about the welfare of others and going to lengths to care for and improve the welfare of employees even if it means if the leader has to make personal sacrifices.

Vision: Patterson (2003) offers that the servant leader's focus is on the individual member of the organization and the vision component is about how the organizational members view their future state. Servant leaders serve their people by fully concentrating on where things are headed.

Trust: Patterson (2003) states that trust is a building block from where work for servant leaders begins, a trust in the unseen potential of the followers, believing they can accomplish goals, a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Empowerment: In this empowerment-rich model of servant leadership, the leader empowers the followers to And their own paths, and they, in turn, are inspired to help others find their best paths.

Service: This is the heart of servant leadership theory; it is the primary function of a type of leadership that is not based on one's own interests, but rather on the interests of others.

Winston (2003) extended Patterson's model to demonstrate how the leader's service results in a continuous circular motion by positively affecting the followers' agapao love, commitment, self-efficacy, intrinsic motivation and altruistic attitudes towards their leaders. He stated that the follower achieves a higher level of commitment and self-efficacy as a result of the agapao love. …

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