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Servant Leadership Effectiveness to Organizational Change

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Servant Leadership Effectiveness to Organizational Change

May 13, 2006


Real change leaders are not found among the top executives within an organization. Although, top executives participation is important to change within an organization, the real change leaders are middle and frontline managers, and he or she influence how the majority of people perform within the company. "The most difficult aspect of major change has little to do with getting the right concept, core process redesign, or even a team at the top. Major change lies in changing the people system Ð'- the skills and behavior of hundreds of employees down the line. Major change relies on the ability and attitudes of mid-level and frontline mangers" (Katzenbach, 1996, p150).

This report will make a few observations of the strengths and weaknesses of servant leadership, and the effectiveness in organizational change. The report will also articulate the characteristics of servant leadership, and how this style affects organizational change.

Effective Leadership

"Effective leaders strengthen the effort-to-performance expectancy by providing the information, support, and other resources necessary to help employees complete their tasks. For instance, the best performing self-directed work teams at Xerox had leaders who gave first priority to arranging organizational support for the team" (McShane & Von Glinow 2004, chap. 14, p 424). Path-goal theory advocates servant leadership provides resources to support employees in completing their tasks.

Servant Leadership is the conviction that leaders serve followers by understanding their needs, and facilitating their job performance. Servant leaders ask, "How can I help?" rather than expecting the employees to serve them. "Servant leaders make serving employees, customers and the community their number one priority. A servant leader asks whether those the leader serves grow as persons. The servant leader asks, "Do those I serve become wiser, healthier, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?" (Brown, Browne, Giampetro-Meyer, & Kubasek, 1998, 17: 1728)

Because of the leadership of several organizations like WorldCom and Enron questionable character and business practices, organizations are changing the way they do business. Business ethics has become a hot topic again and organizations are working attentively to guide executives in making the best decision, and ensure that he or she is doing the right thing. Servant leadership is considered because this style holds a unique promise as a way to develop organizations from an ethical perspective. Table 1 presents a list of strengths and weaknesses of Servant Leadership.


"Do no harm" is the first strength of servant leadership, and is becoming exceedingly difficult. Americans put an extraordinary demand on the rest of the world for resources and energy. Leaders cannot just do well but they need to avoid harm among followers.

Responsible reflective is regarded as strength of a servant leader because a successful servant leader uses the 14 character traits of a successful leader. These traits are integrity, vulnerability, discernment, awareness of the human spirit, courage in relationships, sense of humor, intellectual energy and curiosity, respect for the future, regard for the present, understanding of the past, predictability, breadth, comfort with ambiguity, and presence. The servant leadership style is for the most part consistent with the idea of responsible reflective.

Responsible reflective is important and fills the need for the corporation to behave as though the company has a sense of right and wrong. In other words, this process requires the leaders to engage in logical, analytical reasoning and obey laws. When faced with a decision, the leader who engages in responsible reflective does not make snap decisions, but take full measure of his or her accountability, considers the needs and welfare of others, and behaved with a sense of duty.

A spiritually generative culture occurs when members focus on personal growth for themselves, others, and the organizational systems that make possible the growth. Studies suggest that while a spiritual generative culture satisfies organizational members, this culture could cause followers to become passive to the external environment.

The key drivers that servant leaders led with are valuing people, developing people, building community, displaying authenticity and sharing leadership. The possible outcomes of using these drivers could be higher skilled people, more ethical people, better communicators, strong interpersonal relationships, creation of shared visions, and clear goals.

Static Environment is characterized by a lack of movement or change in the totality of surrounding conditions. More static or fixed environments are better served by the servant leadership culture. The Servant leadership concept seems to be more successful in a static environment. "For example, not-for profit, volunteer and religious organizations often operate in a more fixed environment and attract employees who seek opportunities for personal growth, nurturing, and healing. In fact, members of servant organizations may argue against thinking of stakeholders as customers, and resist using the traditional "business model" in their decision-making" (Kuzmenko, Montagno, and Smith 2004, p87).

Servant leadership have a good number of strong qualities, and in the right situation, this leadership style proves to be very effective in change management or organizational change.


Short-run profit maximizations require the most favorable portion of scarce producing division capacity among the competing demands of the strong division. "Although servant leadership is consistent with improved corporate cultures, this style is not consistent with short-run profit maximization. If global competitiveness requires short-run efficiency, servant leaders will hinder corporate financial success" (Brown et al. (1998, p1733-1734). Shareholders would become intolerant with the servant leaders because they are not forceful and cannot or will not communicate a vision, and does not attempt to take full advantage of short-run



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