The Effect Of A Servant Leadership Model On The Ethical Climate Of The Organization

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The Effect of a Servant Leadership Model on the Ethical Climate of the Organization


Chapter 2: Literature Review

The purpose of this study is to determine the effect of the Servant-Leadership Model on an organization's ethical climate. This literature review provides an analysis of the characteristics and attributes of a servant leader. In addition, this literature review will provide a general overview of the Servant-Leadership Model. The topic of ethics will also be addressed in the review of literature. As such, the literature review in this chapter includes the following sections pertaining to this specific study: (a) servant leadership; (b) servant leadership attributes; (c) ethical climate; (d) ethical behavior; and (e) studies examining the effect of leadership styles on organizations.

Servant Leadership

Robert Greenleaf (2005) reflected upon a lasting vision when he defined servant-leadership with the following questions: "Do others around the servant-leader become wiser, freer, more autonomous, healthier, and better able themselves to become servants? Will the least privileged of humanity be benefited or at least not further deprived?" (Robert K. Greenleaf Center, 2005, p. 7). Greenleaf (2001) explained that the servant-leader is servant first, which begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve. Following the desire to serve may be a conscious choice that brings one to aspire to lead. The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types of leaders with the servant-first leader taking care to make sure other people's highest priority needs are being served.

Patterson (2003) presented the theory of servant leadership as a logical extension of transformational leadership theory. Patterson defined and developed the component constructs underlying the practice of servant leadership, defining servant leaders as "those leaders who lead an organization by focusing on their followers, such that the followers are the primary concern and the organizational concerns are peripheral"(p.5). Patterson defined followers as "those who are subordinate to a given leader within a given organization" (p.7) and suggests the terms subordinates and employees can be used interchangeably.

The primary motivation for leadership should be a desire to serve (Conger, 2008; Blake, 2002; Bryman, 2002; Bass, 2005; Atkinson, 2004; Baggett, 2000). Servant leadership takes place when leaders assume the position of servant in their relationships with fellow workers. Self-interest should not motivate servant leadership; rather, it should ascend to a higher plane of motivation that focuses on the needs of others (Willner, 2004; Peterson, 2007; Greenleaf, 2005).

According to Nair (2000) as long as power dominates our thinking about leadership, we cannot move toward a higher standard of leadership. We must place service at the core; for even though power will always be associated with leadership, it has only one legitimate use: service.

Servant Leadership Attributes

If we conclude that servant leadership is different from other forms of leadership then one should be able to observe characteristics and behaviors in such leaders that are distinctive. The literature regarding servant leadership is somewhat ambiguous and mostly anecdotal. Nonetheless, despite the fact that the existing servant leadership literature reflects different literature styles ranging from books to journals, ...
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