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Servant leadership and
engagement: a dual
mediation model
Yuanjie Bao and Chaoping Li
School of Public Administration and Policy, Renmin University of China,
Beijing, China, and
Hao Zhao
Lally School of Management, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York, USA
Abstract
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to compare two mediating mechanisms of servant leadership’s effect on
followers’ work engagement: the social exchange mechanism (represented by leader-member exchange (LMX))
and the social learning mechanism (represented by public service motivation in Study 1 and prosocial motivation
in Study 2).
Design/methodology/approach – In Study 1, the authors collected two-wave matched data from 216
public sector employees. In Study 2, the authors collected two-wave matched data from 178 private sector
employees. The authors use hierarchical regression and bootstrapping to test the hypotheses.
Findings – Servant leadership is positively related to follower’s work engagement and this relationship is
mediated by LMX, but not by public service motivation (Study 1) or prosocial motivation (Study 2). It suggests
that servant leadership promotes followers’ work engagement mostly through the social exchange mechanism.
Research limitations/implications – The data were collected from Chinese employees, and future studies
are necessary to verify the findings in other cultural contexts.
Originality/value – This study sheds light on a more nuanced picture of the effect mechanisms of
servant leadership.
Keywords Servant leadership, Leader-member exchange, Public service motivation, Prosocial motivation,
Work engagement
Paper type Research paper
Introduction
Servant leaders put followers’ interests before their own and act in a moral and humble
manner (van Dierendonck, 2011). Empirically, researchers reported that servant leadership is
related to various outcomes, such as job performance (e.g. Schwarz et al., 2016), organizational
commitment (e.g. Carter and Baghurst, 2014), helping (e.g. Neubert et al., 2008), organizational
citizenship behavior (e.g. Walumbwa et al., 2010) and engagement (e.g. Sousa and van
Dierendonck, 2017). We find engagement, as a positive job attitude (van Dierendonck, 2011), is
a relatively under studied but important outcome. Engaged workers display desirable
motivation and behaviors like vigor, dedication and absorption (Schaufeli et al., 2006). In this
paper, we investigate how servant leadership affects followers’ work engagement using one
sample from the public sector and another sample from the private sector.
Extant research has taken two directions to explain the effects of servant leadership. The
first proposed mediating mechanism is based on social exchange theory (Blau, 1964). Servant
leaders can form “social exchange relationships with their followers, rather than relying solely
on the economic incentives in the employment agreement or the authority vested in their
Journal of Managerial Psychology
Vol. 33 No. 6, 2018
pp. 406-417
© Emerald Publishing Limited
0268-3946
DOI 10.1108/JMP-12-2017-0435
Received 23 January 2018
Revised 15 April 2018
8 August 2018
Accepted 28 August 2018
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
www.emeraldinsight.com/0268-3946.htm
The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support provided by National Science Foundation of
China (Grant Nos 71772171 and 71372159), the project of “985” in China and the Social Sciences
planning projects from the Ministry of Education (Grant No. 17YJA630073). The three authors made
equal contribution to this paper. The order of author names is presented by the alphabetical order of
their family names.
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positions” (Liden et al., 2008, p. 163). Social exchange involves at least an expectation of
reciprocation, so that both parties will find the relationship rewarding and worthwhile to
continue (Blau, 1964). It is assumed that by helping the personal and professional growth of
employees, a servant leader creates an obligation on followers to reciprocate in the long term,
and the target of the reciprocation is the leader or the organization represented by the leader.
Servant leadership researchers examined various mediators in the social exchange category,
including leader-member exchange (LMX; e.g. Newman et al., 2017), followers’ need satisfaction
(e.g. Chiniara and Bentein, 2016; van Dierendonck et al., 2014), commitment to the leader
(e.g. Walumbwa et al., 2010) and affective trust in the leader (e.g. Schaubroeck et al., 2011).
The second mediating mechanism is based on social learning theory (Bandura, 1977),
especially the vicarious learning process. Through the observation of positive, role modeling
behaviors by the servant leaders, followers will learn these behaviors and will seek to
replicate them in other social contexts, such as when interacting with the community, the
customers or the coworkers. It goes beyond the dyadic exchange relationship between
the leader and the follower, to benefit a broader range of stakeholders. It is consistent with
the tenet of servant leadership theory that servant leaders take into account multiple
stakeholders, including the larger society (Liden et al., 2008). In essence, through their
altruistic behaviors, servant leaders will be able to induce followers to mirror and become
servants themselves. There are only a few empirical studies examining the social learning
mechanism, and the key mediating variables examined include serving culture (e.g. Liden
et al., 2014) and service climate (Hunter et al., 2013) at the group level, and public service
motivation at the individual level (e.g. Schwarz et al., 2016).
These two perspectives imply very different and even contrasting processes, in that the first
is driven by self-interest and the second by altruism. Unfortunately, so far researchers
overlooked the theoretical difference, and to our knowledge, no study has examined the two
types of mediating mechanisms in the same research model side by side. We fill the gap by
testing the dual mediation model with one sample from the public sector, and another sample
from the private sector. This differential replication design (Lindsay and Ehrenberg, 1993) is
necessary to validate our results, because employees who self-selected into the public sector and
private sector may have different levels of altruistic motivation, and different work expectations.
Study 1
Servant leadership and work engagement
Servant leaders put the interests of the served before their own. It is these conscious choices
made by the servants that eventually made them leaders (Graham, 1991). Servant leaders
are moral, socially responsible and emphasize followers’ interests and developments (Parris,
2013; van Dierendonck, 2011; Avolio et al., 2009).
Work engagement is a positive and fulfilling job attitude (van Dierendonck, 2011). Engaged
workers display higher levels of vigor, dedication and absorption (Schaufeli et al., 2006). Vigor
means that an employee has a high level of energy and resilience at work; dedication means that
the employee has positive feelings at work such as significance, competence and personal
growth; and absorption means that the employee is so attached to, immersed in and concentrated
at work that he/she feels that time flies by and that it is hard to detach from work (Bakker et al.,
2014). Work engagement has been found to be further related to positive work attitudes,
individual well-being, extra role and helping behaviors, and performance (Christian et al., 2011;
Halbesleben, 2010). Scholars often use the job demands-resources (JD-R) model to explain the
inducement of work engagement (Bakker and Demerouti, 2008; Bakker et al., 2014). According to
this model, all jobs are characterized by job demands and resources and work engagement is the
outcome of an individual’s psychological assessment and experiences related to those job
demands and resources (Bakker and Demerouti, 2008). So far, however, leadership has not been
considered a main job resource to induce engagement (Sousa and van Dierendonck, 2014).
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We propose that servant leadership could be a powerful organizational resource, in
buffering the negative effects of job demands and promoting followers’ engagement. From the
JD-R perspective, followers would have sufficient personal and social resources if their leaders
are competent, empowering, helping and sacrificing for them. Also, if the followers believe that
what they are doing is ethically and morally correct and beneficial to the community and the
larger society, they would have positive internal assessment and elevated self-esteem
(Chen et al., 2015), which are job resources that can induce work engagement (Xanthopoulou
et al., 2009). Recently, Petrou et al. (2012) applied the JD-R model to study employees’ daily
interactions with the environment and they found that direct supervisors play an important
role in employees’ evaluation of the job. Being a “significant other,” the direct supervisor’s
attitudes and behaviors are a very important channel for followers to construct their perception
of job sources and demands. Thus, when receiving servant leaders’ help and guidance, we
expect followers to feel psychologically empowered and meaningful. These positive feelings
are in the “positive circle” of the JD-R model that can promote followers’ work engagement
(Bakker, 2015). There are some initial evidence on the relationship between servant leadership
and engagement among employees in Europe (van Dierendonck et al., 2014; Sousa and van
Dierendonck, 2017). Based on the above rationale, we hypothesized the following:
H1. Servant leadership is positively related to work engagement.
The social exchange mechanism: LMX
Servant leadership is a leadership approach in which “leaders set aside their self-interest
and altruistically work for the benefit of their followers, and the communities” (Newman
et al., 2017, p. 49), while LMX measures the overall quality of the social exchange process
between leaders and followers, making it a core concept in relationship-based leadership
(Graen and Uhl-Bien, 1995). Both servant leadership and LMX emphasize attention to
followers’ needs, but focusing primarily on the relationship quality, “LMX theory is silent
with respect to the provision of personal healing, the development of followers into servant
leaders, and the encouragement of service to the community” (Liden et al., 2008, p. 163).
Leaders and followers form relationships based on their interactions in the past (Graen and
Uhl-Bien, 1995; Liden et al., 1997), thus LMX can be perceived as a consequence of servant
leadership. Followers of a servant leader will enjoy more opportunities and controls at work
and grow faster, thus develop higher quality of relationships with the leader.
According to social exchange theory, one tends to reciprocate received favors, in hope to
receive more benefits from future social exchanges. To maintain a balanced and equitable
social exchange with their leader, followers must be emotionally close to the servant leaders
(i.e. high LMX), and at the same time reciprocate with positive job attitudes and behaviors to
satisfy the leader and the organization the leader represents. Work engagement is a clear
signal to the leader that the follower is energetic in performing his or her assigned work, thus
a desirable response to servant leadership. Empirical research shows that servant leadership
is related to LMX among employees in China (Newman et al., 2017) and USA (Liden et al.,
2008), and that LMX is related to police officers’ work engagement in Netherland (Breevaart
et al., 2015). Based on the above rationale and evidence, we hypothesized the following:
H2. LMX mediates the relationship between servant leadership and work engagement.
The social learning mechanism: public service motivation
Social learning perspective offers a different view of the mediating mechanism. Social learning
theory (Bandura, 1977) posits that individuals can learn vicariously through observing and
imitating others. Servant leaders provide good role models for the followers by altruistically
helping followers and the community, thus their altruistic behaviors are likely to be replicated
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by the followers when they interact with other stakeholders such as coworkers, customers, or
the larger society. Such role-modeling effects are in line with servant leadership theory. In fact,
Greenleaf (1977) indicated that the best test of a servant leader is whether his or her followers
will become servants themselves. In a similar vein, Liden et al. (2008) argued that servant
leaders prepare the organization and its members to contribute to the larger society. One
study has shown that “servant leaders ignite a cycle of service by role-modeling servant
behavior that is then mirrored through coworker helping behavior and high-quality customer
service” (Hunter et al., 2013, p. 316). Interestingly, this purported effect of servant leadership
on individual’s altruistic motivation is rarely tested (an exception is Schwarz et al., 2016), and
its relative effect to the social exchange mechanism is not clear.
We designed two studies to compare the relative effects of the social exchange mechanism
and the social learning mechanism. In Study 1 involving public sector employees, we use LMX
as a proxy for former mechanism and public service motivation as a proxy for the latter.
Public service motivation is an important and frequently studied construct in studies of public
employees, referring to “a general altruistic motivation to serve the interests of a community
of people, a state, a nation, or humankind” (Rainey and Steinbauer, 1999, p. 23). Its intended
beneficiaries go beyond the leader and the organization. Employees with high public service
motivation are altruistic and do not expect reciprocity from the recipients of their services,
making it clearly different from the social exchange perspective. A servant leader who puts
the interest of the employees, the community and the public above his or her own would be a
good role model and help enhance followers’ public service motivation. With higher public
service motivation, followers are likely to feel dedicated and resilient at work, and stay
engaged in their work despite the work-related stress:
H3a. Public service motivation mediates the relationship between servant leadership
and work engagement.
The proposed dual mediation hypotheses are depicted in Figure 1.
Method
Sample and procedure. We asked 40 public employees enrolled in a part-time Master’s of
Public Administration degree program at a public university in China to invite ten of their
colleagues to participate in the survey. We send links to the online survey to their personal
e-mail addresses and we assure the confidentiality. Immediate supervisors’ servant
leadership and respondents’ demographic information were measured in the first round of
the survey, which was conducted at the end of 2015. Two months later, we measured LMX,
public service motivation, and work engagement. We offered 50 Chinese yuan
(approximately $7.4) to the respondents who complete both rounds of survey. Among the
400 contacted public employees, 283 responded in the first round, and 223 responded in the
second round, yielding a response rate of 56.5 percent. We used 216 responses for final
analysis due to missing data. Among the 216 respondents, 103 (47.7 percent) were female,
Servant Leadership
LMX
Work Engagement
PSM/PM
Notes: LMX, leader-member exchange; PSM, public service motivation; PM, prosocial
motivation
Figure 1.
Theoretical model of
servant leadership
and work engagement
409
Servant
leadership and
engagement
the average age was 32.22 (SD ¼ 6.52), 12 had a junior college degree (5.6 percent), 136 had a
bachelor degree (63 percent), 63 had a master’s degree (29.2 percent), and 5 had received
their doctorate degree (2.3 percent). The average tenure with their direct supervisor was
2.56 years (SD ¼ 2.57).
Measures. We used established scales published in English journals, and translated them
to Chinese using a standard back-translation approach (Brislin, 1970).
Servant leadership. We used seven items from Liden et al. (2015) to measure servant
leadership. It was a seven-point Likert-scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7
(strongly agree). A sample item was “My leader can tell if something work-related is going
wrong.” The Cronbach’s α for this scale is 0.88.
LMX. We used seven items from Graen and Uhl-Bien (1995) seven-point Likert-scale
ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree) to measure LMX. A sample item is
“My supervisor recognizes my potential very well.” The Cronbach’s α for this scale is 0.85.
Public service motivation. We used a sixteen-item scale from Kim et al. (2013) to measure
public service motivation. It was on a five-point Likert-scale ranging from 1 (strongly
disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). A sample item was “I am prepared to make sacrifices for the
good of society.” The Cronbach’s α for this scale is 0.91.
Work engagement. We used the nine-item version of the Utrecht Work Engagement
Scale (Schaufeli et al., 2002). It was on a seven-point Likert-scale, ranging from 0 (never) to 6
(everyday). A sample item is “At my work, I feel bursting with energy.” The Cronbach’s α
for this scale is 0.93.
Control variables. Respondents’ gender (0¼ female, 1¼ male), age (in years) and educational
level (1¼ junior college, 2 ¼ bachelor’s, 3 ¼ master’s, 4¼ doctorate), and dyadic tenure with
the leader (in years) were included as controls because of their potential relationships with
outcome variable.
Results
Descriptive statistics. The means, standard deviations and inter-correlations among the
variables are reported in Table I. Servant leadership is positively related to LMX (r ¼ 0.37,
po0.01), and work engagement (r ¼ 0.28, po0.01). LMX is positively related to public
service motivation (r ¼ 0.23, po0.01) and work engagement (r ¼ 0.42, po0.01). Public
service motivation is positively related to work engagement (r ¼ 0.21, po0.01).
Hypothesis testing. As can be seen from Table II, servant leadership is positively related
to work engagement ( β ¼ 0.30, po0.001, Model 6) after taking into the effects of control
variables. H1 is supported.
H2 and H3 predicted that LMX and public service motivation will each mediate the
relationship between servant leadership and work engagement. As can be seen from
Mean SD 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
1. Gender 0.52 0.50
2. Age 32.22 6.35 0.03
3. Education – – 0.05 0.00
4. Tenure with leader 2.56 2.57 −0.06 0.33** 0.14*
5. Servant leadership 3.57 0.87 0.13 −0.11 −0.01 −0.16* (0.88)
6. LMX 4.95 1.00 0.18* 0.07 0.07 −0.09 0.37** (0.85)
7. PSM 4.43 0.48 0.00 0.11 −0.16* 0.01 0.10 0.23** (0.91)
8. Work engagement 3.50 1.02 0.05 0.20** 0.04 −0.01 0.28** 0.42** 0.21** (0.93)
Notes: n ¼ 216. LMX, leader member exchange; PSM, public service motivation. Cronbach’s αs were reported
in parentheses. For gender, 0 ¼ female, 1 ¼ male. *po0.05; **po0.01
Table I.
Means, standard
deviations and
correlations among
examined variables
for Study 1
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Table II, servant leadership is positively related to LMX ( β ¼ 0.36, po0.001, Model 2), but
not public service motivation ( β ¼ 0.11, pW0.05, Model 4). In Model 7, controlling for
servant leadership, LMX was significantly related to engagement ( β ¼ 0.32, po0.001) while
public service motivation was marginally related with engagement ( β ¼ 0.11, po0.1) and
the effect of servant leadership on engagement was still significant ( β ¼ 0.17, po0.05). The
total indirect effect of servant leadership on engagement was 0.148 (95% CI ¼ [0.085, 0.250]).
The indirect effect through LMX was 0.134 (95% CI ¼ [0.071, 0.233]) and significant,
supporting H2. The indirect effect through public service motivation was 0.014 (95%
CI ¼ [−0.004, 0.050]) and insignificant. H3a was not supported.
Study 2
A limitation of Study 1 is that employees who self-select into the public sector may have
higher altruistic tendency compared to other working populations, and serving the public is
part of their job requirements instead of a discretionary choice. This range restriction in
their public service motivation may be an alternative cause for the insignificant mediation
effect. We performed a differential replication (Lindsay and Ehrenberg, 1993) with a second
sample from the private sector to validate our findings. Although the majority of the
research design remained the same for Study 2, we choose to replace the scale of public
service motivation, because its wording was designed for the public sector. We use a more
general construct, prosocial motivation, as the proxy of the social learning mechanism.
Grant (2008, p. 49) defined prosocial motivation as “the desire to expend effort to benefit
other people.” Given the similarity between the public service motivation and prosocial
motivation concepts, some researchers treated the two interchangeably (e.g. Wright and
Grant, 2010), while others view public service motivation as a particular form of prosocial
motivation “that is animated by specific dispositions and values arising from public
institutions and missions” (Perry et al., 2010, p. 682).
Many studies on servant leadership are actually based on leader samples from the private
sector (e.g. Hunter et al., 2013; Liden et al., 2008). We expect the social learning mechanism of
servant leadership will take place in the private sector as well. Through direct observations
and interactions, followers of servant leaders will admire their leaders as role models, and
become motivated to emulate them to serve a broad range of others such as coworkers,
LMX PSM Work engagement
Model 1 Model 2 Model 3 Model 4 Model 5 Model 6 Model 7
Step 1: control variables
Gender 0.16* 0.12 0.01 −0.01 0.03 −0.00 −0.04
Age 0.10 0.13 0.11 0.12 0.23** 0.25** 0.20**
Education 0.07 0.07 −0.16* −0.16* 0.05 0.05 0.04
Tenure with leader −0.12**** −0.08 −0.00 0.01 −0.10 −0.06 −0.03
Step 2: main effect
Servant leadership 0.36*** 0.11 0.30*** 0.17**
Step 3: mediating variables
LMX 0.32***
PSM 0.11****
Overall F 2.78* 8.82*** 2.00**** 2.12**** 2.75* 6.55*** 9.53***
R2 0.05 0.17 0.04 0.05 0.05 0.14 0.24
▵F 31.37*** 2.54 20.73*** 14.82***
▵R2 0.12 0.01 0.09 0.11
Notes: n ¼ 216. Standardized coefficients are reported. *po0.05; **po0.01; ***po0.001; ****po0.1
Table II.
Hierarchical
regression results for
mediation for Study 1
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Servant
leadership and
engagement
customers, the community and the society. With a strong prosocial motivation, they will be
ready to overcome challenges and feel energized, dedicated and engaged in doing their work:
H3b. Prosocial motivation mediates the relationship between servant leadership and
work engagement.
Method
Sample and procedure. We asked 40 part-time graduate students from the same university as
Study 1 who are working in the private sector to each invite ten colleagues or friends working
in the private sector to participate in an online survey. Anonymity and confidentiality were
assured again. The first round of data collection was in the middle of 2018, and we asked the
respondents to report their immediate supervisors’ servant leadership and demographic
information. Two weeks later, we measured LMX, prosocial motivation and work engagement.
We offered 30 Chinese yuan (approximately $4.5) to compensate respondents who complete
both rounds of survey. Among the 400 contacted private employees, 305 responded in the first
round, and 202 responded in the second round, yielding a response rate of 50.5 percent.
We used 178 responses for final analysis due to missing data. Among them, 104 (58.4 percent)
were female, the average age was 32.61 (SD¼ 6.24), 27 had a junior college degree
(15.2 percent), 93 had a bachelor degree (52.2 percent), 49 had a master’s degree (27.5 percent)
and 6 had received their doctorate degree (3.4 percent), while 3 reported other degrees.
The average tenure with their direct supervisor was 2.90 years (SD ¼ 3.57).
Measures. Servant leadership, LMX and work engagement were measured with the same
scales and anchors as Study 1. We measured prosocial motivation with four items from
Grant (2008). A sample item is “It is important for me to do good for other through my
work.” As shown in Table III, the Cronbach’s αs of variables in our research model varied
between 0.84 and 0.93. We used the same set of control variables as in Study 1.
Results
Descriptive statistics. The means, standard deviations and inter-correlations among the
variables are reported in Table III.
Hypothesis testing. As can be seen from Table IV, servant leadership is positively related
to work engagement ( β ¼ 0.28, po0.001, Model 6) after taking into the effects of control
variables. H1 is supported.
Also can be seen from Table IV, servant leadership is positively related to LMX
( β ¼ 0.58, po0.001, Model 2), but not prosocial motivation ( β ¼ 0.07, pW0.05, Model 4).
In Model 7, controlling for servant leadership, LMX ( β ¼ 0.29, po0.001) and prosocial
motivation ( β ¼ 0.34, po0.001) were significantly related to engagement, while the effect of
servant leadership on engagement was no longer significant ( β ¼ 0.09, pW0.05). The total
Mean SD 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
1. Gender 0.42 0.49
2. Age 32.61 6.23 −0.02
3. Education – – 0.02 −0.01
4. Tenure with leader 2.90 3.57 0.05 0.37** −0.07
5. Servant leadership 3.23 0.78 −0.02 −0.12 0.13 −0.08 (0.84)
6. LMX 4.67 1.01 0.05 0.07 0.00 0.06 0.56** (0.91)
7. Prosocial motivation 4.13 0.56 −0.07 0.08 0.07 0.03 0.07 0.16* (0.86)
8. Work engagement 3.43 0.95 −0.01 0.15 −0.05 −0.10 0.25** 0.39** 0.39** (0.93)
Notes: n ¼ 178. LMX, leader member exchange. Cronbach’s αs were reported in parentheses. For gender,
0 ¼ female, 1 ¼ male. *po0.05; **po0.01
Table III.
Means, standard
deviations and
correlations among
examined variables
for Study 2
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indirect effect of servant leadership on engagement was 0.233 (95% CI ¼ [0.048, 0.425]).
The indirect effect through LMX was 0.204 (95% CI ¼ [0.039, 0.388]) and significant,
supporting H2. The indirect effect through prosocial motivation was 0.029 (95%
CI ¼ [−0.040, 0.125]) and insignificant. H3b was not supported. In general, results from
Study 2 are consistent with our findings from Study 1.
Discussion
Servant leadership research is at its “early state of theoretical development” with many
unanswered questions (Liden et al., 2014, p. 1449). This study enriches servant leadership
literature by comparing the dual mediating mechanisms of servant leadership’s effect on
work engagement. These results have important theoretical and practical implications.
Theoretical implications
Servant leadership is often seen as a promising and “a stand-alone leadership approach that
is capable of helping leadership researchers and practitioners better explain a wide range of
outcomes” (Hoch et al., 2018, p. 501). When it comes to the exact effect mechanism, a big
theoretical difference between the social exchange perspective and the social learning
perspective is that the exchange process involves expected reciprocation of favors between
parties, while the learning (or modeling) process involves serving a broader range of
stakeholders and the service is more altruistic in nature. Our study represents an early effort
to explicitly stress the theoretical difference and compare the relative magnitudes of each
mediation mechanism.
From our results, it seems servant leadership’s effect on work engagement is primarily
through the social exchange process, instead of through the social learning process. To be
specific, servant leadership is related to LMX only, but not significantly related to
employees’ public service motivation or prosocial motivation, even though LMX, public
service motivation and prosocial motivation are all related to engagement. It appears that
followers simply treat servant leadership as yet another well-intended leadership
style: followers will appreciate the inducement and favors from the leaders and feel
obligated to reciprocate with organizationally desired workplace behaviors. There is no
strong evidence to confirm followers’ motivation to emulate their servant leaders to serve
LMX Prosocial motivation Work engagement
Model 1 Model 2 Model 3 Model 4 Model 5 Model 6 Model 7
Step 1: control variables
Gender 0.05 0.07 −0.07 −0.07 0.00 0.01 0.01
Age 0.06 0.13**** 0.08 0.08 0.21** 0.24** 0.18*
Education 0.01 −0.07 0.08 0.07 −0.06 −0.09 −0.10
Tenure with leader 0.04 0.05 0.01 0.01 −0.18 −0.18* −0.20**
Step 2: main effect
Servant leadership 0.58*** 0.07 0.28*** 0.09
Step 3: mediating variables
LMX 0.29***
Prosocial motivation 0.34***
Overall F 0.43 17.71*** 0.74 0.76 2.34**** 5.04*** 11.22***
R2 0.01 0.34 0.02 0.02 0.05 0.13 0.32
▵F 85.99*** 0.83 15.06*** 23.40***
▵R2 0.33 0.01 0.08 0.19
Notes: n ¼ 178. Standardized coefficients are reported. *po0.05; **po0.01; ***po0.001; ****po0.1
Table IV.
Hierarchical
regression results for
mediation for Study 2
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leadership and
engagement
others, which is assumed a strength and unique component of servant leadership theory
(Liden et al., 2008). This link is broken for both of our samples.
On surface, it seems counter-intuitive that employees enjoy developing a high-quality
exchange relationship with their servant leader, but they are not interested to imitate their
leaders to serve other stakeholders altruistically. However, the result may be attributed to the
larger cultural context. O’Reilly and Chatman (1986) specified that there are three forms of
interpersonal influence: compliance, affiliation and internalization. The highest and most
difficult-to-achieve level is internalization. Followers may admire certain attributes and
behaviors of their leader and feel proud of their affiliation with the leader (i.e. LMX), but they will
not adopt such attributes as their own if there is a lack of value congruence (p. 493). Chinese
culture, in general, is characterized by hierarchies and high power distance (Spencer-Oatey,
1997), where people tend to accept and even expect unequally distributed power. It is thus
difficult for followers to internalize the humility and altruism attributes of their servant leaders.
Followers may perceive servant leaders as a rare hero or exemplar at a high and distant level,
but remain skeptical whether they can or should replicate such servant behaviors, especially
when they feel they have limited resources inside and outside of the organization to sustain such
behaviors. Furthermore, the government plays a central role in Chinese society, so public
employees may see themselves as “officials” instead of true servants in front of the general
public. Even though they are very willing to reciprocate the service rendered by their leaders,
they may not feel comfortable delivering the same quality of service toward people they
“manage.” It may be unrealistic to assume the modeling process will take place naturally. Future
studies are needed to investigate what servant leaders can do to encourage followers emulate
their service behaviors, and investigate if the results remain the same in other cultural contexts.
We caution that it is premature to conclude the learning/modeling process is completely
not working, even in Chinese public sector. Schwarz et al. (2016) found that servant
leadership is related to public service motivation among a group of government employees
in Zhejiang, which is a wealthy province on the east coast of China, known for its booming
private enterprises (Ye and Wei, 2005). The important role of private economy may have
changed the local cultural norm and helped employees to accept equality and internalize the
values of servant leaders. Our sample was drawn from many places of China, thus a better
representation of typical Chinese employees’ values at the moment. However, as China gets
more globalized and market-economy-oriented, employees’ personal values will change too,
so we expect both the social exchange mechanism and the social learning mechanism
hypothesized in our study may be supported in future studies.
Practical implications
Our study has practical implications for managers. We found that servant leadership can help
produce engaged employees. Leaders can motivate by putting followers’ interests before their
own, by engaging in moral and ethical decision making, and by developing and mentoring
followers. Our study underlines the important role of social exchange in the servant
leadership’s influence. By building stronger LMX with employees, servant leaders can boost
the morale in the organization and increase employees’ dedication to work. We advocate
including service-orientation as an important criterion for leaders’ selection and promotion.
To help the social learning process, we encourage servant leaders making themselves
more visible to the employees and performing more frequent visits and communications
with followers including those who do not directly report to the leaders. By closing the
distance from employees, a leader makes it easier for employees to learn from and to
follow the leader. Another way is to assign servant leaders as mentors to junior leaders to
work on projects together, so that they can learn the complex decision-making process
when their servant leaders face a dilemma, instead of just the decision itself or the impact
of the decision.
414
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33,6
Limitations and future directions
This study should be considered in light of its limitations. In addition to the single cultural
context we mentioned above, we caution that our data were reported by followers only.
We used time-lagged design to minimize common method variance. But in order to fully
address the direction of causality, it would be optimal to measure key variables at more time
points, from different data sources, and over a longer span. It will also help to use a less
obtrusive data collection method such as diary study (Bakker, 2015) to record followers’
perceptions of servant leadership and subsequent reactions.
Conclusion
We found that servant leadership is an antecedent of work engagement, and this effect is
primarily through the social exchange process, while the social learning process is relatively
difficult to take place. In practical terms, our study shows how important it is to use servant
leadership to build strong relationships with employees and boost their work motivation.
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About the authors
Yuanjie Bao is Assistant Professor in the School of Public Administration and Policy, Renmin
University, China. His research interests include leadership, values and person-environment fit.
His work has appeared in journals such as Journal of Advanced Nursing and Cross Cultural
Management: An International Journal.
Chaoping Li is Professor in the School of Public Administration and Policy, Renmin University,
China. His research interests include leadership, personality and work engagement. His work has
appeared in journals such as Journal of Business Research, Management and Organization Review and
Human Resource Management. Chaoping Li is the corresponding author and can be contacted at:
lichaoping@ruc.edu.cn
Hao Zhao is Associate Professor in Lally School of Management, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
His research interests include entrepreneurship, recruitment, leadership and employee creativity. His
work has been published in leading academic journals including Journal of Applied Psychology,
Personnel Psychology, Journal of Management, Leadership Quarterly and Journal of Business Venturing.
For instructions on how to order reprints of this article, please visit our website:
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administrative
sciences
Article
Can Servant Leaders Fuel the Leadership Fire?
The Relationship between Servant Leadership and
Followers’ Leadership Avoidance
Martin Lacroix 1,* and Armin Pircher Verdorfer 2
1 Faculty of Social Sciences and Cultural Studies, University of Giessen, Karl-Glöckner-Straße 21,
35394 Giessen, Germany
2 School of Management, Technical University of Munich, Arcisstraße 21, 80333 München, Germany;
armin.pircher-verdorfer@tum.de
* Correspondence: Martin.Lacroix@sowi.uni-giessen.de
Academic Editors: Dirk van Dierendonck, Sigrun Gunnarsdóttir and Kathleen A. Patterson
Received: 14 January 2017; Accepted: 21 February 2017; Published: 27 February 2017
Abstract: This study tested the effect of servant leadership on followers’ inclinations to strive for
and, in contrast, to avoid leadership responsibility. Results from a study in the health care context,
including two waves of data from 222 employees, revealed that servant leadership had a small
but positive effect on followers’ leadership avoidance. This effect was influenced by followers’
implicit conception of an ideal leader. Specifically, servant leadership was found to reduce leadership
avoidance when the congruence with the followers’ ideal leader prototype was high. Furthermore,
followers’ core self-evaluations and affective motivation to lead mediated the relationship between
servant leadership and reduced leadership avoidance. Implications of these patterns for theory and
practice and avenues for future research are discussed.
Keywords: servant leadership; leadership avoidance; motivation to lead; core self-evaluations
1. Introduction
One of the core tenets of servant leadership theory is that servant leaders instill in followers a
desire to serve others [1,2]. Research in this field has convincingly argued that servant leaders are
uniquely effective in developing and nurturing service values among followers. More specifically,
it is thought that servant leaders represent strong role models that influence followers via learning
processes and vicarious experiences and, thus, eventually imbue the importance of service within
their teams [2]. Empirical support for this notion comes from a study conducted by Walumbwa,
Hartnell and Oke [3] who surveyed leaders and their followers from several multinational companies
in Kenya. They found servant leadership to be positively related to service climate, which represents
a “collection of behavioral features or activities of the departments all focusing explicitly on service
quality” [4] (p. 1022). More recently, Liden Wayne, Liao and Meuser [5] further substantiated this
notion. In a study conducted in the USA with restaurant leaders and their teams, they found that
servant leadership shapes a serving culture in organizations that goes even beyond the service climate
with its emphasis on customer service. Rather, the notion of serving culture explicitly refers to an
organizational environment in which all members, leaders and followers “share the understanding
that the behavioral norms and expectations are to prioritize the needs of others above their own and to
provide help and support to others” [5] (p. 1437).
In the present article we build upon and extend the above evidence by addressing a related, yet
rarely discussed and hitherto not empirically tested implication of servant leadership. Greenleaf [1] and
several other scholars in his tradition have framed the implicit expectation that those who are served by
Adm. Sci. 2017, 7, 6; doi:10.3390/admsci7010006 www.mdpi.com/journal/admsci
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Adm. Sci. 2017, 7, 6 2 of 11
servant leaders will understand their true potential, take on these practices and thus eventually become
servant leaders themselves (e.g., [6]). From this follows that servant leaders should be able to reduce
motivational barriers in followers to strive for or accept leadership responsibility. In fact, despite
the primacy of a genuine motivation to serve in the conception of servant leadership [1], leadership
per definition includes a motivation to lead [7]. In other words, someone who views leadership
responsibility as inherently daunting and unattractive is unlikely to become a servant leader. That
said, the main aim of the present research is to investigate the link between servant leadership and
followers’ motivations to lead and, eventually, leadership avoidance, which represents a fundamental
obstacle to assuming leadership responsibility [8]. Our theoretical model posits that servant leaders
are positive role models that instill in followers an attractive conception of being a leader. However,
we assume that followers’ implicit conception of an ideal leader (i.e., ideal leader prototype) affects the
strength of this relation. Furthermore, we introduce follower core self-evaluations [9] as an additional
intermediate mechanism through which servant leadership impacts followers and which we describe
in more detail below.
A second aim of our research relates to measurement adaption. Specifically, we use the 28-item
servant leadership questionnaire developed by Liden, Wayne, Zhao and Henderson [10] and adapt it
for use in German-speaking countries. Not only is servant leadership still measured with somewhat
different instruments (see [7] for a more detailed discussion of this issue), but at the same time,
research on servant leadership is also becoming more and more international. Thus, the availability
of different psychometrically valid servant leadership measures for use in different cultural contexts
will enable researchers to compare result patterns not only across cultures, but also across different
measurement approaches.
2. Servant Leadership as a Pathway to Reduced Leadership Avoidance
In the present research, we build upon and seek to extend prior evidence showing that servant
leaders stimulate serving behaviors among their followers [3,5]. However, besides fostering a serving
culture and stimulating followers to prioritize service quality, we posit that servant leaders also instill
in followers a positive and attractive conception of being a leader. This means that followers come
to view leadership responsibility as an attractive challenge instead of being deterred from fear of
failure and expectations of pressure and stress [8]. In fact, an important premise of servant leadership
theory is that servant leaders are particularly likely to become attractive role models for their followers
due to their unique concern for others and strong ethics [2]. Thus, drawing on processes related to
vicarious and observational learning [11], we propose a direct link between servant leadership and
followers’ inclination to be less skeptical and averse to assuming leadership responsibilities themselves.
Accordingly, we specified the following hypothesis:
Hypothesis 1: Servant leadership is negatively linked to followers’ avoidance of leadership (i.e., finding
leadership responsibility daunting).
However, we propose that this relationship is not adequately conceptualized solely as a direct
effect and several intervening mechanisms need to be considered. First, we draw on leader
categorization theory [12] and hypothesize that followers’ responses to servant leadership are
considerably influenced by the degree to which leaders display what followers believe to be the
qualities of an ideal leader (i.e., ideal leader prototype, see [13]). That said, it is plausible that the
tendency of followers to develop a positive and desirable conception of leadership responsibility is
partially dependent on whether they perceive their leader to match their ideal leader prototype [2].
Therefore, we specified the following prediction:
Adm. Sci. 2017, 7, 6 3 of 11
Hypothesis 2: The direct link between servant leadership and reduced leadership avoidance is moderated by
followers’ ideal leader prototype. The more followers perceive their leader to match their ideal leader prototype,
the stronger the effect of servant leadership will be on followers’ reduced leadership avoidance.
Second, besides the moderation effect pertaining to the ideal leader prototype, we propose a
series of intermediate mechanisms in our framework. Our overall model is depicted in Figure 1, which
represents a larger process that starts with servant leadership and culminates in followers’ reduced
leadership avoidance. First, following Felfe et al. [8], the most proximal antecedent to the avoidance
of leadership is a lack of genuine motivation to lead. Second, we contend that motivation to lead
represents a function of specific internal resources on the part of followers, most notably a sense of
self-worth and ability [9]. These resources, in turn, have been consistently described as an outcome
of supportive and ethically positive leadership in the literature. In what follows, we delineate the
theoretical rationale for the various links in our proposed model in more detail.
Adm. Sci. 2017, 7, 6 3 of 11
reduced leadership avoidance. First, following Felfe et al. [8], the most proximal antecedent to the
avoidance of leadership is a lack of genuine motivation to lead. Second, we contend that motivation
to lead represents a function of specific internal resources on the part of followers, most notably a
sense of self-worth and ability [9]. These resources, in turn, have been consistently described as an
outcome of supportive and ethically positive leadership in the literature. In what follows, we
delineate the theoretical rationale for the various links in our proposed model in more detail.

Figure 1. Predicted model linking servant leadership to followers’ leadership avoidance. MLT =
motivation to lead. The dashed lines represent additional paths that were tested as part of the partial
mediation model.
In the proposed framework, the immediate precursor of leadership avoidance is a lack of
motivation to lead. Chan and Drasgow [14] described motivation to lead as an individual’s
preference to strive for a leadership role or position, which is reflected in three dimensions. First, the
affective-identity component of motivation to lead suggests that a person considers oneself as
having intrinsic leadership qualities and thus simply enjoys leading others. Second, the
social-normative aspect is characterized by experiencing a sense of duty and obligation to lead.
Third, the non-calculative aspect accounts for people who neglect the personal costs of leading in
their decision. In our approach, we focus on the affective component because previous research has
consistently identified it as the most influential predictor for leadership potential (e.g., [14]) and
career ambitions [8,15]. Moreover, we focus on the non-calculative aspect because it reflects, to some
extent, a non-egocentric attitude and is thus somewhat consistent with the humble attitude of
servant leaders [16]. In fact, individuals scoring high on this dimension are not genuinely concerned
with their own interests when it comes to striving for or accepting a leadership role. Prior research
has provided solid empirical evidence for the inherent, negative link between the motivation to lead
and leadership avoidance [8]. In line with this, we developed the following hypothesis:
Hypothesis 3: Motivation to lead (affective and non-calculative) is negatively related to leadership avoidance.
Next, we build on Liden, Panaccio et al. [2] and introduce followers’ core self-evaluations [9] as
a mechanism through which servant leadership is assumed to positively influence followers’
motivation to lead.
The Mediating Role of Core Self-Evaluations
The concept of core self-evaluations (CSE) is generally described as a broad, integrative trait
consisting of self-esteem, generalized self-efficacy, locus of control and emotional stability [9]. As
Liden, Panaccio et al. [2] point out, servant leadership appears as particularly suitable to foster the
self-esteem (i.e., the appraisal of self-worth) and self-efficacy (i.e., the appraisal of one’s ability to
successfully complete tasks and reach goals) components. In fact, by showing genuine concern for
followers’ needs and by standing back and giving them support and credit, servant leaders
consistently demonstrate confidence in their followers and signal that they are worthy and capable
individuals. Moreover, servant leaders empower their followers and provide opportunities to use
and develop their talents and skills. This helps followers to solve problems at work autonomously
Figure 1. Predicted model linking servant leadership to followers’ leadership avoidance.
MLT = motivation to lead. The dashed lines represent additional paths that were tested as part of the
partial mediation model.
In the proposed framework, the immediate precursor of leadership avoidance is a lack of
motivation to lead. Chan and Drasgow [14] described motivation to lead as an individual’s
preference to strive for a leadership role or position, which is reflected in three dimensions. First, the
affective-identity component of motivation to lead suggests that a person considers oneself as having
intrinsic leadership qualities and thus simply enjoys leading others. Second, the social-normative
aspect is characterized by experiencing a sense of duty and obligation to lead. Third, the non-calculative
aspect accounts for people who neglect the personal costs of leading in their decision. In our approach,
we focus on the affective component because previous research has consistently identified it as the
most influential predictor for leadership potential (e.g., [14]) and career ambitions [8,15]. Moreover,
we focus on the non-calculative aspect because it reflects, to some extent, a non-egocentric attitude
and is thus somewhat consistent with the humble attitude of servant leaders [16]. In fact, individuals
scoring high on this dimension are not genuinely concerned with their own interests when it comes to
striving for or accepting a leadership role. Prior research has provided solid empirical evidence for the
inherent, negative link between the motivation to lead and leadership avoidance [8]. In line with this,
we developed the following hypothesis:
Hypothesis 3: Motivation to lead (affective and non-calculative) is negatively related to leadership avoidance.
Next, we build on Liden, Panaccio et al. [2] and introduce followers’ core self-evaluations [9] as a
mechanism through which servant leadership is assumed to positively influence followers’ motivation
to lead.
Adm. Sci. 2017, 7, 6 4 of 11
The Mediating Role of Core Self-Evaluations
The concept of core self-evaluations (CSE) is generally described as a broad, integrative trait
consisting of self-esteem, generalized self-efficacy, locus of control and emotional stability [9]. As Liden,
Panaccio et al. [2] point out, servant leadership appears as particularly suitable to foster the self-esteem
(i.e., the appraisal of self-worth) and self-efficacy (i.e., the appraisal of one’s ability to successfully
complete tasks and reach goals) components. In fact, by showing genuine concern for followers’ needs
and by standing back and giving them support and credit, servant leaders consistently demonstrate
confidence in their followers and signal that they are worthy and capable individuals. Moreover,
servant leaders empower their followers and provide opportunities to use and develop their talents
and skills. This helps followers to solve problems at work autonomously and successfully and, thus,
more generally allows for experiences of success and achievement. Such experiences, in turn, likely
convey to followers a sense of control and influence over outcomes (i.e., locus of control), helping them
also to feel more calm and secure in challenging situations (i.e., emotional stability).
Next, we argue that followers’ core self-evaluations positively relate to their motivation to
lead and, thus, eventually, to lower levels of leadership avoidance. Support for this notion comes
from theoretical as well empirical work on core self-evaluations showing that the effects of core
self-evaluations on individuals’ psychological functioning and behaviors are best described through
an approach/avoidance framework [17]. According to this perspective, most human experiences differ
with regard to their sensitivity to positive or negative information [18]. Thus, personality traits reflect
distinct temperaments depending on whether the focus is on approaching pleasurable opportunities
(i.e., positive stimuli) or avoiding unfavorable, painful experiences (i.e., negative stimuli). Since
its introduction, core self-evaluation (with its focus on self-worth, feeling secure, competent and in
charge) has been consistently linked to both the adoption of approach goals [19] and the avoidance of
threats [20]. More recently, Ferris et al. [21] conducted two studies with students as well as dyads from
the working context and found core self-evaluations to foster positive outcomes (such as organizational
citizenship behavior and reduced levels of workplace deviance) through both high approach tendencies
and low avoidance tendencies.
With the above processes in mind, we argue that followers with high core self-evaluations are
more sensitive to positive aspects and experiences when interacting with and observing their leader.
In turn, they are less likely to notice and emphasize problematic and overly demanding leadership
experiences. Taken together, it is plausible that more approach-oriented individuals think more
positively about the challenges associated with a leadership role, focus more on the opportunities (i.e.,
affective motivation to lead) and are less concerned about potential personal costs (i.e., non-calculative
motivation to lead). Against this background, we specified the following prediction:
Hypothesis 4: The relationship between servant leadership and motivation to lead (affective and non-calculative)
is mediated by followers’ core self-evaluations.
3. Method
3.1. Participants and Procedure
For the purpose of our research, we conducted a two-wave online study in the German health
care sector. Specifically, we collected publicly available e-mail-addresses from four German university
hospitals by searching the homepage of clinics, medical centers and specialized institutes related to
medical treatment and research as well as centralized service departments related to management and
support topics of hospitals. Data were collected at two times separated by about eight weeks to allow
us to reduce common method bias [22].
Overall 6243 potential respondents were contacted via e-mail out of which 815 (13.1%) accessed
the online survey. The introductory letter explained the purpose of the study, provided assurances
of confidentiality and informed respondents that participation in this study was strictly voluntary.
Adm. Sci. 2017, 7, 6 5 of 11
Overall, 504 participants completed the survey and provided data on perceived servant leadership
and ideal leader prototype. Responses from seven participants were eliminated due to missing data,
resulting in a sample of 497 participants at Time 1 (i.e., 8% response rate).
Approximately eight weeks later, the 497 respondents who participated at Time 1 were asked
to complete an online survey measuring core self evaluations, motivation to lead, and leadership
avoidance. Five out of 227 participants provided invalid responses, resulting in a total of 222 matched
usable surveys at Time 2 (i.e., 3.5% response rate).
3.2. Sample
The overall sample that was used in the present research can be divided into two sub-samples.
Sub-sample 1 (N = 275) covers the respondents who participated exclusively at Time 1 and did not
complete the survey at Time 2. Subsample 2 (N = 222) refers to those participants, who filled in the
survey both at Time 1 and Time 2.
In sub-sample 1, 67% of the respondents were female. In terms of age, the distribution was as
follows: 20.4% were 20–29 years, 41.8% were between 30–39 years, 21.1% were 40–49, 14.9% between
50–59, and 1.8% were above 60 years old. With regard to tenure, 50% had been working for less than
five years in their current organization (8.7% less than one year, 45.5% more than one and less than
five years; 20.0% less than 10 years and 25.5% more than 10 years). Most participants in sample 1 were
physicians (40.4%), 20% were nursing or medical technical assistants, and 8.4% worked in central and
administrative services (other professions: 30%).
In subsample 2, 71% of the respondents were female. Between 14.9% were 20–29 years, 34.7%
were 30–39 years, 22.5% were 40–49 years, 24.3% were 50–59 years, and 3.2% were above 60 years old.
For more than 50% of the respondents, organizational tenure was over five years (4.1% less than one
year, 37.4% more than one and less than five years; 18.9% less than 10 years and 39.2% longer than
10 years). With regard to the occupational background, the two major groups were physicians and
nursing or medical technical assistants (23% each). Nine percent worked in central and administrative
services (other professions: 45%).
3.3. Measures
Unless otherwise indicated, all scales used in our study were anchored with a response format
ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree).
Servant leadership was measured at Time 1 by using the 28-item scale developed by Liden et al. [10].
Since no German version was available, we followed the guidelines by Brislin [23] and adapted the
original items for the use in German-speaking samples (the translated items can be obtained from the
first author of this study).
To measure ideal leader prototype we adopted an item from Van Quaquebeke et al. [24]. Participants
were asked to respond to the following question: “To what degree does your current leader match
your conception of an ideal leader”. The item was included at Time 1 and responses were given on a
five-point scale ranging from 1 (not all all) to 5 (very well).
Core self-evaluations were assessed at Time 2 with the German adaptation [25] of the core
self-evaluations scale developed by Judge and colleagues [9]. Sample items include “I complete
tasks successfully” (i.e., self-efficacy), “I determine what will happen in my life“(i.e., locus of control),
“Overall, I am satisfied with myself” (i.e., self-esteem), and “Sometimes I feel depressed” (i.e., emotional
stability, reverse coded).
Motivation to lead was measured by using four items for the affective dimension and four items for
the non-calculative dimension taken from the scale developed by Chan and Drasgow [14] and adapted
by Felfe and colleagues [8]. This measure was included in Time 2. Sample items were “I am the type of
person who likes to be in charge of others” (i.e., affective motive) and “I am only interested to lead a
group if there are clear advantages for me (i.e., non-calculative motive, reverse coded).
Adm. Sci. 2017, 7, 6 6 of 11
Avoidance of leadership was captured at Time 2 by using three items developed by Felfe et al. [8].
A sample item was: “The pressure that comes with a leadership role is daunting to me”.
4. Results
4.1. Measures
First, we applied confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) by using the software MPLUS 6 [26] and
tested the factorial validity of the newly adapted servant leadership measure. In two separate samples
(i.e., subsample 1 and 2), we compared three factor models. The first model was a one-factor model in
which all 28 items were loaded on one single servant leadership factor. The second was a first-order
factor model in which items loaded onto their respective factors and the seven factors were allowed to
correlate. The third was a second-order factor model in which items were loaded onto their respective
factors and the seven factors were loaded on a second-order latent servant leadership factor. The
results of this analysis are shown in Table 1. They indicate that the adapted measure is best represented
by seven related facets describing different attributes of servant leadership (We also tested the factor
structure of the seven-item short form [27], obtaining excellent psychometric properties. The detailed
results can be requested from the first author of this study.)
Table 1. Results of confirmatory factor analyses for the servant leadership measure.
Model χ2 df χ2/df TLI CFI RMSEA ∆χ2
Subsample 1
One-factor model 1663.91 350 4.75 0.748 0.766 0.117
First-order model 730.19 329 2.2 0.918 0.929 0.067 933.71 ***
Second-order model 784.11 343 2.29 0.914 0.922 0.068 879.80 ***
Subsample 2
One-factor model 1332.007 350 3.81 0.777 0.793 0.112
First-order model 657.674 329 2.00 0.920 0.931 0.067 674.33 ***
Second-order model 691.32 343 2.02 0.919 0.927 0.068 640.69 ***
Notes: ∆χ2 represents the difference in χ2 values between the respective model and the one-factor model,
*** p < 0.001. Next, we conducted CFA to assess the integrity of the measurement model underlying our hypotheses tests in subsample 2. Given the relatively large number of parameters in the proposed model and the relatively small sample size, we used item parcels as indicators for some latent constructs. Specifically, for servant leadership, seven parcels were created based on the preexisting dimensions [10]. The same procedure was applied for core self-evaluations and we created four parcels representing the components of core self-evaluations (i.e., self-esteem, self-efficacy, locus of control, emotional stability). For the remaining latent variables (i.e., affective and non-calculative motivation to lead as well as leadership avoidance), items were used as indicators since these measures consisted of three to four items only. Results showed that the hypothesized five-factor model fit the data well (χ2 = 328.96, df = 199, p < 0.001, χ2/df = 1.65, CFI = 0.95, TLI = 0.95, RMSEA = 0.05). Next, we compared this model with two alternative models in order to establish discriminant validity. First, we tested the fit of a single-factor model in which all indicators were loaded onto a single factor. This procedure yielded a fairly poor model fit (χ2 = 1791.54, df = 209, p < 0.001, χ2/df = 8.57, CFI = 0.43, TLI = 0.37, RMSEA = 0.19) which was clearly inferior to the fit of the five-factor model (∆χ2(10) = 1462.58 p < 0.001). Second, the proposed five-factorial model was preferable over a three-factor model in which all motivation to lead and leadership avoidance indicators were covered by a single factor (χ2 = 1052.32, df = 206, p < 0.001, χ2/df = 5.11, CFI = 0.69, TLI = 0.66, RMSEA = 0.14, ∆χ2(7) = 723.36, p < 0.001). In summary, the revealed pattern supports our measures’ utility to capture the target constructs under investigation. Adm. Sci. 2017, 7, 6 7 of 11 4.2. Hypotheses Tests Table 2 presents the descriptive statistics, internal consistency reliabilities, and correlations among the study variables. In order to test our hypotheses in detail, we conducted structural equation modeling (SEM) in MPLUS. The results of this analysis are depicted in Figure 2. Table 2. Descriptive statistics and correlations. M SD 1 2 3 4 5 6 1. Servant Leadership 3.05 0.86 (0.78) 2. Ideal Leader Prototype 2.90 1.37 0.86 *** (-) 3. Core Self-Evaluations 3.86 0.58 0.29 *** 0.25 *** (0.78 4. Affective MTL 3.36 0.89 0.08 0.04 0.27 *** (0.86) 5. Noncalculative MLT 3.39 0.91 0.00 −0.05 0.41 * −0.23 ** (0.88) 6. Leadership Avoidance 2.55 0.88 −0.02 0.04 −0.49 *** −0.49 *** −0.20 ** (0.78) Notes: * p < 0.05, ** p < 0.01, *** p < 0.001, MTL = Motivation to lead. Adm. Sci. 2017, 7, 6 7 of 11 Figure 2. Estimated regression coefficients for the predicted model. * p < 0.05, *** p < 0.001, MLT = motivation to lead. The dashed lines represent non-significant paths. Affective and non-calculative MTL were allowed to correlate (factor correlation = −0.32, p < 0.001). Surprisingly, servant leadership was positively related to leadership avoidance (β =.16, p < 0.05), which is in contrast to Hypothesis 1. To test the proposed moderating role of the ideal leader prototype in this link, we conducted a regression analysis using the Process macro for SPSS [28]. This analysis revealed a significant servant leadership × ideal leader prototype interaction with b = −0.22, p < 0.01, 95% CI [−0.33, −0.10]. The direction of the moderation effect is in the expected direction. Thus Hypothesis 2 was confirmed. To visualize the nature of the revealed effect we followed the procedures developed by Dawson [29] and plotted the interaction (Figure 3). The revealed pattern indicates that servant leadership is more likely to reduce leadership avoidance when the ideal leader prototype is high, but not at lower levels. Figure 3. The moderating role of ideal leader prototype. SL = servant leadership, ILP = ideal leader prototype. Hypothesis 3 stated a negative relationship between the motivation to lead and leadership avoidance. As shown in Figure 2, both the affective component (β = −0.56, p < 0.001) and the non-calculative component (β = −0.23, p < 0.001) had a negative effect. Therefore, Hypothesis 3 was confirmed. Furthermore, in line with our expectations, servant leadership was positively related to core self-evaluations (β = 0.32, p < 0.001), which in turn predicted the affective (β = 0.32, p < 0.001) and the non-calculative (β = 0.17, p < 0.05) components of the motivation to lead. In order to test the specific indirect effect from servant leadership on motivation to lead through core self-evaluations, bootstrapping (with 10,000 bootstrap samples) was used to create a bias-corrected confidence interval (CI) for the indirect effect. The specific indirect effect was 0.10%, 95% CI [0.037, 0.168] for affective motivation to lead, and for non-calculative motivation to lead, it was 0.05, 95% CI [0.001, 1 2 3 4 5 Low SL High SL L ea de rs hi p av oi da nc e Low ILP High ILP Figure 2. Estimated regression coefficients for the predicted model. * p < 0.05, *** p < 0.001, MLT = motivation to lead. The dashed lines represent non-significant paths. Affective and non-calculative MTL were allowed to correlate (factor correlation = −0.32, p < 0.001). Surprisingly, servant leadership was positively related to leadership avoidance (β = 0.16, p < 0.05), which is in contrast to Hypothesis 1. To test the proposed moderating role of the ideal leader prototype in this link, we conducted a regression analysis using the Process macro for SPSS [28]. This analysis revealed a significant servant leadership × ideal leader prototype interaction with b = −0.22, p < 0.01, 95% CI [−0.33, −0.10]. The direction of the moderation effect is in the expected direction. Thus Hypothesis 2 was confirmed. To visualize the nature of the revealed effect we followed the procedures developed by Dawson [29] and plotted the interaction (Figure 3). The revealed pattern indicates that servant leadership is more likely to reduce leadership avoidance when the ideal leader prototype is high, but not at lower levels. Adm. Sci. 2017, 7, 6 7 of 11 Figure 2. Estimated regression coefficients for the predicted model. * p < 0.05, *** p < 0.001, MLT = motivation to lead. The dashed lines represent non-significant paths. Affective and non-calculative MTL were allowed to correlate (factor correlation = −0.32, p < 0.001). Surprisingly, servant leadership was positively related to leadership avoidance (β =.16, p < 0.05), which is in contrast to Hypothesis 1. To test the proposed moderating role of the ideal leader prototype in this link, we conducted a regression analysis using the Process macro for SPSS [28]. This analysis revealed a significant servant leadership × ideal leader prototype interaction with b = −0.22, p < 0.01, 95% CI [−0.33, −0.10]. The direction of the moderation effect is in the expected direction. Thus Hypothesis 2 was confirmed. To visualize the nature of the revealed effect we followed the procedures developed by Dawson [29] and plotted the interaction (Figure 3). The revealed pattern indicates that servant leadership is more likely to reduce leadership avoidance when the ideal leader prototype is high, but not at lower levels. Figure 3. The moderating role of ideal leader prototype. SL = servant leadership, ILP = ideal leader prototype. Hypothesis 3 stated a negative relationship between the motivation to lead and leadership avoidance. As shown in Figure 2, both the affective component (β = −0.56, p < 0.001) and the non-calculative component (β = −0.23, p < 0.001) had a negative effect. Therefore, Hypothesis 3 was confirmed. Furthermore, in line with our expectations, servant leadership was positively related to core self-evaluations (β = 0.32, p < 0.001), which in turn predicted the affective (β = 0.32, p < 0.001) and the non-calculative (β = 0.17, p < 0.05) components of the motivation to lead. In order to test the specific indirect effect from servant leadership on motivation to lead through core self-evaluations, bootstrapping (with 10,000 bootstrap samples) was used to create a bias-corrected confidence interval (CI) for the indirect effect. The specific indirect effect was 0.10%, 95% CI [0.037, 0.168] for affective motivation to lead, and for non-calculative motivation to lead, it was 0.05, 95% CI [0.001, 1 2 3 4 5 Low SL High SL L ea de rs hi p av oi da nc e Low ILP High ILP Figure 3. The moderating role of ideal leader prototype. SL = servant leadership, ILP = ideal leader prototype. Adm. Sci. 2017, 7, 6 8 of 11 Hypothesis 3 stated a negative relationship between the motivation to lead and leadership avoidance. As shown in Figure 2, both the affective component (β = −0.56, p < 0.001) and the non-calculative component (β = −0.23, p < 0.001) had a negative effect. Therefore, Hypothesis 3 was confirmed. Furthermore, in line with our expectations, servant leadership was positively related to core self-evaluations (β = 0.32, p < 0.001), which in turn predicted the affective (β = 0.32, p < 0.001) and the non-calculative (β = 0.17, p < 0.05) components of the motivation to lead. In order to test the specific indirect effect from servant leadership on motivation to lead through core self-evaluations, bootstrapping (with 10,000 bootstrap samples) was used to create a bias-corrected confidence interval (CI) for the indirect effect. The specific indirect effect was 0.10%, 95% CI [0.037, 0.168] for affective motivation to lead, and for non-calculative motivation to lead, it was 0.05, 95% CI [0.001, 0.108]. This pattern confirms that in our data, core self-evaluations fully mediated the relationship between servant leadership and motivation to lead. Thus, Hypothesis 4 was confirmed. 5. Discussion Our study set out to explore the mechanisms through which servant leadership may impact followers’ inclinations to become leaders themselves. We proposed that servant leaders represent strong role models conveying to followers the message that leading others represents an attractive and desirable responsibility. Surprisingly, we found a small but positive and statistically significant effect of servant leadership on followers’ leadership avoidance. This pattern is partially in line with prior research indicating that features of constructive leadership may sometimes have counterintuitive or even negative outcomes [30]. Indeed, in our data, followers seem to react somewhat cautiously to leaders who consistently place the good of followers over their own self-interests. Thus, they may come to view the standards of being a leader as highly demanding and, to some degree, even daunting. In an effort to shed light on this pattern, we investigated followers’ implicit perceptions of an ideal leader (i.e., ideal leader prototype) and identified it as an important boundary condition for the proposed main effect. Specifically, we found that servant leadership reduced leadership avoidance among followers when the congruence with the ideal leader prototype was high. In contrast, servant leadership had no meaningful impact on followers at low levels of congruence. This partially reflects the results reported by Meuser, Liden, Wayne and Henderson [31]. In their study, servant leadership was found to predict follower performance and organizational citizenship behavior more effectively when followers desired this type of leadership. With regard to the proposed mediation effects, we found considerable support for core self- evaluations and affective motivation to lead as the central mechanisms linking servant leadership to less leadership avoidance. In contrast, non-calculative motivation to lead appeared as less influential in this regard. From this pattern we draw two conclusions. First, our study expands initial evidence for a positive relationship between servant leadership and followers’ core-self evaluations [32] and provides strong empirical support for Liden, Panaccio et al.’s notion of core-self evaluations as an essential explanatory mechanism for the effects of servant leadership. In terms of motivation to lead, core self-evaluations seem particularly functional in fostering positive affects about leading others, whereas they only marginally explain followers’ calculative considerations about leadership (i.e., costs of leading relative to the benefits). Second, in line with prior research, the affective dimension of motivation to lead seems the most effective in lowering leadership avoidance relative to the non-calculative dimension (e.g., [8,33]). Notably, with our results, we replicated this pattern in the health care context where previous studies did not account for this differentiation so far (e.g., [34]). In summary, our results contribute to servant leadership research in several ways. The literature on servant leadership agrees that theoretical development in the field is still at an early stage (e.g., [2,7,35]). Thus, understanding how servant leadership works and how it relates to outcomes represents an important priority. The main contribution of the present study is the examination of a central assumption in the servant leadership philosophy, namely that servant leaders fuel the leadership fire in Adm. Sci. 2017, 7, 6 9 of 11 followers. Specifically, the inclusion of specific intervening mechanisms (i.e., moderator and mediator variables) enables us to untangle when and under what circumstances the proposed relationship is more likely to appear. Another major empirical contribution of the present effort is the presentation of a psychometrically sound version of Liden et al.’s [10] measure for use in German-speaking samples. With this, we expand the cross-cultural applicability of servant leadership and promote research in more international contexts. Besides the above theoretical implications, our study provides practical implications as well. In line with prior conclusions on the practical value of servant leadership, our findings suggest that servant leadership is instrumental in promoting follower self-actualization. More importantly, however, it follows that the effectiveness of mentoring programs aimed at leadership development and succession planning can be improved further by incorporating training in servant leadership skills. Here, our results highlight the importance of followers’ implicit leadership preferences. Of course, leaders can change followers’ preferences very little. However, following Liden, Panaccio et al. [2], we suggest that when leaders take the time and are empathic and sensitive to the needs of followers, they can identify individual and tailor-made ways to serve their followers. This, in turn, is likely to establish more congruence between the displayed and the expected leader behaviors, and thus will eventually result in positive follower responses. 6. Limitations and Future Research Despite its contributions, our study is not without limitations, most notably the cross-sectional data used for testing our hypotheses. In cross-sectional designs, causality is not clear, and in our case, given the close interaction between leaders and followers, causation might be reciprocal. It is, for instance, conceivable that followers with a high motivation to lead receive more attention and support from their leaders. Thus, although complex and difficult to undertake, future research would strongly benefit from longitudinal studies on the effects of servant leadership, ideally including repeated measures from newcomers in organizations or teams. A second limitation is the relatively small sample size and the exclusive focus on the health care context. On the one hand, this certainly limits the generalizability of our results across populations; on the other hand, it enhances our confidence that our results can be generalized to other fields in health care and, to a limited degree, to other service settings. Nonetheless, future research should replicate our study by using more diverse settings and larger samples. A third issue, one that is both a limitation and, we believe, a strength, is the focus on motivation to lead and leadership avoidance as focal outcome variables. This is a strength because motivation to lead represents a strong proxy for assuming responsibility and eventually realizing one's full potential. On the other hand, it is a weakness because motivation to lead is not sufficient for developing servant leaders. In fact, according to Van Dierendonck [7], servant leadership combines the motivation to lead with a need or a motivation to serve. Interestingly, Ng, Koh and Goh [36] found no correlation between leaders’ need to serve and their affective motivation to lead. Thus, future research should adapt the scale developed by Ng et al. [36] and assess followers’ needs to serve as an outcome of perceived servant leadership. Fourth, in our study we included followers’ general conceptions of an ideal leader (i.e., leader prototype). 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Introduction Servant Leadership as a Pathway to Reduced Leadership Avoidance Method Participants and Procedure Sample Measures Results Measures Hypotheses Tests Discussion Limitations and Future Research Servant leadership and engagement: a dual mediation model Yuanjie Bao and Chaoping Li School of Public Administration and Policy, Renmin University of China, Beijing, China, and Hao Zhao Lally School of Management, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York, USA Abstract Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to compare two mediating mechanisms of servant leadership’s effect on followers’ work engagement: the social exchange mechanism (represented by leader-member exchange (LMX)) and the social learning mechanism (represented by public service motivation in Study 1 and prosocial motivation in Study 2). Design/methodology/approach – In Study 1, the authors collected two-wave matched data from 216 public sector employees. In Study 2, the authors collected two-wave matched data from 178 private sector employees. The authors use hierarchical regression and bootstrapping to test the hypotheses. Findings – Servant leadership is positively related to follower’s work engagement and this relationship is mediated by LMX, but not by public service motivation (Study 1) or prosocial motivation (Study 2). It suggests that servant leadership promotes followers’ work engagement mostly through the social exchange mechanism. Research limitations/implications – The data were collected from Chinese employees, and future studies are necessary to verify the findings in other cultural contexts. Originality/value – This study sheds light on a more nuanced picture of the effect mechanisms of servant leadership. Keywords Servant leadership, Leader-member exchange, Public service motivation, Prosocial motivation, Work engagement Paper type Research paper Introduction Servant leaders put followers’ interests before their own and act in a moral and humble manner (van Dierendonck, 2011). Empirically, researchers reported that servant leadership is related to various outcomes, such as job performance (e.g. Schwarz et al., 2016), organizational commitment (e.g. Carter and Baghurst, 2014), helping (e.g. Neubert et al., 2008), organizational citizenship behavior (e.g. Walumbwa et al., 2010) and engagement (e.g. Sousa and van Dierendonck, 2017). We find engagement, as a positive job attitude (van Dierendonck, 2011), is a relatively under studied but important outcome. Engaged workers display desirable motivation and behaviors like vigor, dedication and absorption (Schaufeli et al., 2006). In this paper, we investigate how servant leadership affects followers’ work engagement using one sample from the public sector and another sample from the private sector. Extant research has taken two directions to explain the effects of servant leadership. The first proposed mediating mechanism is based on social exchange theory (Blau, 1964). Servant leaders can form “social exchange relationships with their followers, rather than relying solely on the economic incentives in the employment agreement or the authority vested in their Journal of Managerial Psychology Vol. 33 No. 6, 2018 pp. 406-417 © Emerald Publishing Limited 0268-3946 DOI 10.1108/JMP-12-2017-0435 Received 23 January 2018 Revised 15 April 2018 8 August 2018 Accepted 28 August 2018 The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at: www.emeraldinsight.com/0268-3946.htm The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support provided by National Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos 71772171 and 71372159), the project of “985” in China and the Social Sciences planning projects from the Ministry of Education (Grant No. 17YJA630073). The three authors made equal contribution to this paper. The order of author names is presented by the alphabetical order of their family names. 406 JMP 33,6 positions” (Liden et al., 2008, p. 163). Social exchange involves at least an expectation of reciprocation, so that both parties will find the relationship rewarding and worthwhile to continue (Blau, 1964). It is assumed that by helping the personal and professional growth of employees, a servant leader creates an obligation on followers to reciprocate in the long term, and the target of the reciprocation is the leader or the organization represented by the leader. Servant leadership researchers examined various mediators in the social exchange category, including leader-member exchange (LMX; e.g. Newman et al., 2017), followers’ need satisfaction (e.g. Chiniara and Bentein, 2016; van Dierendonck et al., 2014), commitment to the leader (e.g. Walumbwa et al., 2010) and affective trust in the leader (e.g. Schaubroeck et al., 2011). The second mediating mechanism is based on social learning theory (Bandura, 1977), especially the vicarious learning process. Through the observation of positive, role modeling behaviors by the servant leaders, followers will learn these behaviors and will seek to replicate them in other social contexts, such as when interacting with the community, the customers or the coworkers. It goes beyond the dyadic exchange relationship between the leader and the follower, to benefit a broader range of stakeholders. It is consistent with the tenet of servant leadership theory that servant leaders take into account multiple stakeholders, including the larger society (Liden et al., 2008). In essence, through their altruistic behaviors, servant leaders will be able to induce followers to mirror and become servants themselves. There are only a few empirical studies examining the social learning mechanism, and the key mediating variables examined include serving culture (e.g. Liden et al., 2014) and service climate (Hunter et al., 2013) at the group level, and public service motivation at the individual level (e.g. Schwarz et al., 2016). These two perspectives imply very different and even contrasting processes, in that the first is driven by self-interest and the second by altruism. Unfortunately, so far researchers overlooked the theoretical difference, and to our knowledge, no study has examined the two types of mediating mechanisms in the same research model side by side. We fill the gap by testing the dual mediation model with one sample from the public sector, and another sample from the private sector. This differential replication design (Lindsay and Ehrenberg, 1993) is necessary to validate our results, because employees who self-selected into the public sector and private sector may have different levels of altruistic motivation, and different work expectations. Study 1 Servant leadership and work engagement Servant leaders put the interests of the served before their own. It is these conscious choices made by the servants that eventually made them leaders (Graham, 1991). Servant leaders are moral, socially responsible and emphasize followers’ interests and developments (Parris, 2013; van Dierendonck, 2011; Avolio et al., 2009). Work engagement is a positive and fulfilling job attitude (van Dierendonck, 2011). Engaged workers display higher levels of vigor, dedication and absorption (Schaufeli et al., 2006). Vigor means that an employee has a high level of energy and resilience at work; dedication means that the employee has positive feelings at work such as significance, competence and personal growth; and absorption means that the employee is so attached to, immersed in and concentrated at work that he/she feels that time flies by and that it is hard to detach from work (Bakker et al., 2014). Work engagement has been found to be further related to positive work attitudes, individual well-being, extra role and helping behaviors, and performance (Christian et al., 2011; Halbesleben, 2010). Scholars often use the job demands-resources (JD-R) model to explain the inducement of work engagement (Bakker and Demerouti, 2008; Bakker et al., 2014). According to this model, all jobs are characterized by job demands and resources and work engagement is the outcome of an individual’s psychological assessment and experiences related to those job demands and resources (Bakker and Demerouti, 2008). So far, however, leadership has not been considered a main job resource to induce engagement (Sousa and van Dierendonck, 2014). 407 Servant leadership and engagement We propose that servant leadership could be a powerful organizational resource, in buffering the negative effects of job demands and promoting followers’ engagement. From the JD-R perspective, followers would have sufficient personal and social resources if their leaders are competent, empowering, helping and sacrificing for them. Also, if the followers believe that what they are doing is ethically and morally correct and beneficial to the community and the larger society, they would have positive internal assessment and elevated self-esteem (Chen et al., 2015), which are job resources that can induce work engagement (Xanthopoulou et al., 2009). Recently, Petrou et al. (2012) applied the JD-R model to study employees’ daily interactions with the environment and they found that direct supervisors play an important role in employees’ evaluation of the job. Being a “significant other,” the direct supervisor’s attitudes and behaviors are a very important channel for followers to construct their perception of job sources and demands. Thus, when receiving servant leaders’ help and guidance, we expect followers to feel psychologically empowered and meaningful. These positive feelings are in the “positive circle” of the JD-R model that can promote followers’ work engagement (Bakker, 2015). There are some initial evidence on the relationship between servant leadership and engagement among employees in Europe (van Dierendonck et al., 2014; Sousa and van Dierendonck, 2017). Based on the above rationale, we hypothesized the following: H1. Servant leadership is positively related to work engagement. The social exchange mechanism: LMX Servant leadership is a leadership approach in which “leaders set aside their self-interest and altruistically work for the benefit of their followers, and the communities” (Newman et al., 2017, p. 49), while LMX measures the overall quality of the social exchange process between leaders and followers, making it a core concept in relationship-based leadership (Graen and Uhl-Bien, 1995). Both servant leadership and LMX emphasize attention to followers’ needs, but focusing primarily on the relationship quality, “LMX theory is silent with respect to the provision of personal healing, the development of followers into servant leaders, and the encouragement of service to the community” (Liden et al., 2008, p. 163). Leaders and followers form relationships based on their interactions in the past (Graen and Uhl-Bien, 1995; Liden et al., 1997), thus LMX can be perceived as a consequence of servant leadership. Followers of a servant leader will enjoy more opportunities and controls at work and grow faster, thus develop higher quality of relationships with the leader. According to social exchange theory, one tends to reciprocate received favors, in hope to receive more benefits from future social exchanges. To maintain a balanced and equitable social exchange with their leader, followers must be emotionally close to the servant leaders (i.e. high LMX), and at the same time reciprocate with positive job attitudes and behaviors to satisfy the leader and the organization the leader represents. Work engagement is a clear signal to the leader that the follower is energetic in performing his or her assigned work, thus a desirable response to servant leadership. Empirical research shows that servant leadership is related to LMX among employees in China (Newman et al., 2017) and USA (Liden et al., 2008), and that LMX is related to police officers’ work engagement in Netherland (Breevaart et al., 2015). Based on the above rationale and evidence, we hypothesized the following: H2. LMX mediates the relationship between servant leadership and work engagement. The social learning mechanism: public service motivation Social learning perspective offers a different view of the mediating mechanism. Social learning theory (Bandura, 1977) posits that individuals can learn vicariously through observing and imitating others. Servant leaders provide good role models for the followers by altruistically helping followers and the community, thus their altruistic behaviors are likely to be replicated 408 JMP 33,6 by the followers when they interact with other stakeholders such as coworkers, customers, or the larger society. Such role-modeling effects are in line with servant leadership theory. In fact, Greenleaf (1977) indicated that the best test of a servant leader is whether his or her followers will become servants themselves. In a similar vein, Liden et al. (2008) argued that servant leaders prepare the organization and its members to contribute to the larger society. One study has shown that “servant leaders ignite a cycle of service by role-modeling servant behavior that is then mirrored through coworker helping behavior and high-quality customer service” (Hunter et al., 2013, p. 316). Interestingly, this purported effect of servant leadership on individual’s altruistic motivation is rarely tested (an exception is Schwarz et al., 2016), and its relative effect to the social exchange mechanism is not clear. We designed two studies to compare the relative effects of the social exchange mechanism and the social learning mechanism. In Study 1 involving public sector employees, we use LMX as a proxy for former mechanism and public service motivation as a proxy for the latter. Public service motivation is an important and frequently studied construct in studies of public employees, referring to “a general altruistic motivation to serve the interests of a community of people, a state, a nation, or humankind” (Rainey and Steinbauer, 1999, p. 23). Its intended beneficiaries go beyond the leader and the organization. Employees with high public service motivation are altruistic and do not expect reciprocity from the recipients of their services, making it clearly different from the social exchange perspective. A servant leader who puts the interest of the employees, the community and the public above his or her own would be a good role model and help enhance followers’ public service motivation. With higher public service motivation, followers are likely to feel dedicated and resilient at work, and stay engaged in their work despite the work-related stress: H3a. Public service motivation mediates the relationship between servant leadership and work engagement. The proposed dual mediation hypotheses are depicted in Figure 1. Method Sample and procedure. We asked 40 public employees enrolled in a part-time Master’s of Public Administration degree program at a public university in China to invite ten of their colleagues to participate in the survey. We send links to the online survey to their personal e-mail addresses and we assure the confidentiality. Immediate supervisors’ servant leadership and respondents’ demographic information were measured in the first round of the survey, which was conducted at the end of 2015. Two months later, we measured LMX, public service motivation, and work engagement. We offered 50 Chinese yuan (approximately $7.4) to the respondents who complete both rounds of survey. Among the 400 contacted public employees, 283 responded in the first round, and 223 responded in the second round, yielding a response rate of 56.5 percent. We used 216 responses for final analysis due to missing data. Among the 216 respondents, 103 (47.7 percent) were female, Servant Leadership LMX Work Engagement PSM/PM Notes: LMX, leader-member exchange; PSM, public service motivation; PM, prosocial motivation Figure 1. Theoretical model of servant leadership and work engagement 409 Servant leadership and engagement the average age was 32.22 (SD ¼ 6.52), 12 had a junior college degree (5.6 percent), 136 had a bachelor degree (63 percent), 63 had a master’s degree (29.2 percent), and 5 had received their doctorate degree (2.3 percent). The average tenure with their direct supervisor was 2.56 years (SD ¼ 2.57). Measures. We used established scales published in English journals, and translated them to Chinese using a standard back-translation approach (Brislin, 1970). Servant leadership. We used seven items from Liden et al. (2015) to measure servant leadership. It was a seven-point Likert-scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree). A sample item was “My leader can tell if something work-related is going wrong.” The Cronbach’s α for this scale is 0.88. LMX. We used seven items from Graen and Uhl-Bien (1995) seven-point Likert-scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree) to measure LMX. A sample item is “My supervisor recognizes my potential very well.” The Cronbach’s α for this scale is 0.85. Public service motivation. We used a sixteen-item scale from Kim et al. (2013) to measure public service motivation. It was on a five-point Likert-scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). A sample item was “I am prepared to make sacrifices for the good of society.” The Cronbach’s α for this scale is 0.91. Work engagement. We used the nine-item version of the Utrecht Work Engagement Scale (Schaufeli et al., 2002). It was on a seven-point Likert-scale, ranging from 0 (never) to 6 (everyday). A sample item is “At my work, I feel bursting with energy.” The Cronbach’s α for this scale is 0.93. Control variables. Respondents’ gender (0¼ female, 1¼ male), age (in years) and educational level (1¼ junior college, 2 ¼ bachelor’s, 3 ¼ master’s, 4¼ doctorate), and dyadic tenure with the leader (in years) were included as controls because of their potential relationships with outcome variable. Results Descriptive statistics. The means, standard deviations and inter-correlations among the variables are reported in Table I. Servant leadership is positively related to LMX (r ¼ 0.37, po0.01), and work engagement (r ¼ 0.28, po0.01). LMX is positively related to public service motivation (r ¼ 0.23, po0.01) and work engagement (r ¼ 0.42, po0.01). Public service motivation is positively related to work engagement (r ¼ 0.21, po0.01). Hypothesis testing. As can be seen from Table II, servant leadership is positively related to work engagement ( β ¼ 0.30, po0.001, Model 6) after taking into the effects of control variables. H1 is supported. H2 and H3 predicted that LMX and public service motivation will each mediate the relationship between servant leadership and work engagement. As can be seen from Mean SD 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 1. Gender 0.52 0.50 2. Age 32.22 6.35 0.03 3. Education – – 0.05 0.00 4. Tenure with leader 2.56 2.57 −0.06 0.33** 0.14* 5. Servant leadership 3.57 0.87 0.13 −0.11 −0.01 −0.16* (0.88) 6. LMX 4.95 1.00 0.18* 0.07 0.07 −0.09 0.37** (0.85) 7. PSM 4.43 0.48 0.00 0.11 −0.16* 0.01 0.10 0.23** (0.91) 8. Work engagement 3.50 1.02 0.05 0.20** 0.04 −0.01 0.28** 0.42** 0.21** (0.93) Notes: n ¼ 216. LMX, leader member exchange; PSM, public service motivation. Cronbach’s αs were reported in parentheses. For gender, 0 ¼ female, 1 ¼ male. *po0.05; **po0.01 Table I. Means, standard deviations and correlations among examined variables for Study 1 410 JMP 33,6 Table II, servant leadership is positively related to LMX ( β ¼ 0.36, po0.001, Model 2), but not public service motivation ( β ¼ 0.11, pW0.05, Model 4). In Model 7, controlling for servant leadership, LMX was significantly related to engagement ( β ¼ 0.32, po0.001) while public service motivation was marginally related with engagement ( β ¼ 0.11, po0.1) and the effect of servant leadership on engagement was still significant ( β ¼ 0.17, po0.05). The total indirect effect of servant leadership on engagement was 0.148 (95% CI ¼ [0.085, 0.250]). The indirect effect through LMX was 0.134 (95% CI ¼ [0.071, 0.233]) and significant, supporting H2. The indirect effect through public service motivation was 0.014 (95% CI ¼ [−0.004, 0.050]) and insignificant. H3a was not supported. Study 2 A limitation of Study 1 is that employees who self-select into the public sector may have higher altruistic tendency compared to other working populations, and serving the public is part of their job requirements instead of a discretionary choice. This range restriction in their public service motivation may be an alternative cause for the insignificant mediation effect. We performed a differential replication (Lindsay and Ehrenberg, 1993) with a second sample from the private sector to validate our findings. Although the majority of the research design remained the same for Study 2, we choose to replace the scale of public service motivation, because its wording was designed for the public sector. We use a more general construct, prosocial motivation, as the proxy of the social learning mechanism. Grant (2008, p. 49) defined prosocial motivation as “the desire to expend effort to benefit other people.” Given the similarity between the public service motivation and prosocial motivation concepts, some researchers treated the two interchangeably (e.g. Wright and Grant, 2010), while others view public service motivation as a particular form of prosocial motivation “that is animated by specific dispositions and values arising from public institutions and missions” (Perry et al., 2010, p. 682). Many studies on servant leadership are actually based on leader samples from the private sector (e.g. Hunter et al., 2013; Liden et al., 2008). We expect the social learning mechanism of servant leadership will take place in the private sector as well. Through direct observations and interactions, followers of servant leaders will admire their leaders as role models, and become motivated to emulate them to serve a broad range of others such as coworkers, LMX PSM Work engagement Model 1 Model 2 Model 3 Model 4 Model 5 Model 6 Model 7 Step 1: control variables Gender 0.16* 0.12 0.01 −0.01 0.03 −0.00 −0.04 Age 0.10 0.13 0.11 0.12 0.23** 0.25** 0.20** Education 0.07 0.07 −0.16* −0.16* 0.05 0.05 0.04 Tenure with leader −0.12**** −0.08 −0.00 0.01 −0.10 −0.06 −0.03 Step 2: main effect Servant leadership 0.36*** 0.11 0.30*** 0.17** Step 3: mediating variables LMX 0.32*** PSM 0.11**** Overall F 2.78* 8.82*** 2.00**** 2.12**** 2.75* 6.55*** 9.53*** R2 0.05 0.17 0.04 0.05 0.05 0.14 0.24 ▵F 31.37*** 2.54 20.73*** 14.82*** ▵R2 0.12 0.01 0.09 0.11 Notes: n ¼ 216. Standardized coefficients are reported. *po0.05; **po0.01; ***po0.001; ****po0.1 Table II. Hierarchical regression results for mediation for Study 1 411 Servant leadership and engagement customers, the community and the society. With a strong prosocial motivation, they will be ready to overcome challenges and feel energized, dedicated and engaged in doing their work: H3b. Prosocial motivation mediates the relationship between servant leadership and work engagement. Method Sample and procedure. We asked 40 part-time graduate students from the same university as Study 1 who are working in the private sector to each invite ten colleagues or friends working in the private sector to participate in an online survey. Anonymity and confidentiality were assured again. The first round of data collection was in the middle of 2018, and we asked the respondents to report their immediate supervisors’ servant leadership and demographic information. Two weeks later, we measured LMX, prosocial motivation and work engagement. We offered 30 Chinese yuan (approximately $4.5) to compensate respondents who complete both rounds of survey. Among the 400 contacted private employees, 305 responded in the first round, and 202 responded in the second round, yielding a response rate of 50.5 percent. We used 178 responses for final analysis due to missing data. Among them, 104 (58.4 percent) were female, the average age was 32.61 (SD¼ 6.24), 27 had a junior college degree (15.2 percent), 93 had a bachelor degree (52.2 percent), 49 had a master’s degree (27.5 percent) and 6 had received their doctorate degree (3.4 percent), while 3 reported other degrees. The average tenure with their direct supervisor was 2.90 years (SD ¼ 3.57). Measures. Servant leadership, LMX and work engagement were measured with the same scales and anchors as Study 1. We measured prosocial motivation with four items from Grant (2008). A sample item is “It is important for me to do good for other through my work.” As shown in Table III, the Cronbach’s αs of variables in our research model varied between 0.84 and 0.93. We used the same set of control variables as in Study 1. Results Descriptive statistics. The means, standard deviations and inter-correlations among the variables are reported in Table III. Hypothesis testing. As can be seen from Table IV, servant leadership is positively related to work engagement ( β ¼ 0.28, po0.001, Model 6) after taking into the effects of control variables. H1 is supported. Also can be seen from Table IV, servant leadership is positively related to LMX ( β ¼ 0.58, po0.001, Model 2), but not prosocial motivation ( β ¼ 0.07, pW0.05, Model 4). In Model 7, controlling for servant leadership, LMX ( β ¼ 0.29, po0.001) and prosocial motivation ( β ¼ 0.34, po0.001) were significantly related to engagement, while the effect of servant leadership on engagement was no longer significant ( β ¼ 0.09, pW0.05). The total Mean SD 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 1. Gender 0.42 0.49 2. Age 32.61 6.23 −0.02 3. Education – – 0.02 −0.01 4. Tenure with leader 2.90 3.57 0.05 0.37** −0.07 5. Servant leadership 3.23 0.78 −0.02 −0.12 0.13 −0.08 (0.84) 6. LMX 4.67 1.01 0.05 0.07 0.00 0.06 0.56** (0.91) 7. Prosocial motivation 4.13 0.56 −0.07 0.08 0.07 0.03 0.07 0.16* (0.86) 8. Work engagement 3.43 0.95 −0.01 0.15 −0.05 −0.10 0.25** 0.39** 0.39** (0.93) Notes: n ¼ 178. LMX, leader member exchange. Cronbach’s αs were reported in parentheses. For gender, 0 ¼ female, 1 ¼ male. *po0.05; **po0.01 Table III. Means, standard deviations and correlations among examined variables for Study 2 412 JMP 33,6 indirect effect of servant leadership on engagement was 0.233 (95% CI ¼ [0.048, 0.425]). The indirect effect through LMX was 0.204 (95% CI ¼ [0.039, 0.388]) and significant, supporting H2. The indirect effect through prosocial motivation was 0.029 (95% CI ¼ [−0.040, 0.125]) and insignificant. H3b was not supported. In general, results from Study 2 are consistent with our findings from Study 1. Discussion Servant leadership research is at its “early state of theoretical development” with many unanswered questions (Liden et al., 2014, p. 1449). This study enriches servant leadership literature by comparing the dual mediating mechanisms of servant leadership’s effect on work engagement. These results have important theoretical and practical implications. Theoretical implications Servant leadership is often seen as a promising and “a stand-alone leadership approach that is capable of helping leadership researchers and practitioners better explain a wide range of outcomes” (Hoch et al., 2018, p. 501). When it comes to the exact effect mechanism, a big theoretical difference between the social exchange perspective and the social learning perspective is that the exchange process involves expected reciprocation of favors between parties, while the learning (or modeling) process involves serving a broader range of stakeholders and the service is more altruistic in nature. Our study represents an early effort to explicitly stress the theoretical difference and compare the relative magnitudes of each mediation mechanism. From our results, it seems servant leadership’s effect on work engagement is primarily through the social exchange process, instead of through the social learning process. To be specific, servant leadership is related to LMX only, but not significantly related to employees’ public service motivation or prosocial motivation, even though LMX, public service motivation and prosocial motivation are all related to engagement. It appears that followers simply treat servant leadership as yet another well-intended leadership style: followers will appreciate the inducement and favors from the leaders and feel obligated to reciprocate with organizationally desired workplace behaviors. There is no strong evidence to confirm followers’ motivation to emulate their servant leaders to serve LMX Prosocial motivation Work engagement Model 1 Model 2 Model 3 Model 4 Model 5 Model 6 Model 7 Step 1: control variables Gender 0.05 0.07 −0.07 −0.07 0.00 0.01 0.01 Age 0.06 0.13**** 0.08 0.08 0.21** 0.24** 0.18* Education 0.01 −0.07 0.08 0.07 −0.06 −0.09 −0.10 Tenure with leader 0.04 0.05 0.01 0.01 −0.18 −0.18* −0.20** Step 2: main effect Servant leadership 0.58*** 0.07 0.28*** 0.09 Step 3: mediating variables LMX 0.29*** Prosocial motivation 0.34*** Overall F 0.43 17.71*** 0.74 0.76 2.34**** 5.04*** 11.22*** R2 0.01 0.34 0.02 0.02 0.05 0.13 0.32 ▵F 85.99*** 0.83 15.06*** 23.40*** ▵R2 0.33 0.01 0.08 0.19 Notes: n ¼ 178. Standardized coefficients are reported. *po0.05; **po0.01; ***po0.001; ****po0.1 Table IV. Hierarchical regression results for mediation for Study 2 413 Servant leadership and engagement others, which is assumed a strength and unique component of servant leadership theory (Liden et al., 2008). This link is broken for both of our samples. On surface, it seems counter-intuitive that employees enjoy developing a high-quality exchange relationship with their servant leader, but they are not interested to imitate their leaders to serve other stakeholders altruistically. However, the result may be attributed to the larger cultural context. O’Reilly and Chatman (1986) specified that there are three forms of interpersonal influence: compliance, affiliation and internalization. The highest and most difficult-to-achieve level is internalization. Followers may admire certain attributes and behaviors of their leader and feel proud of their affiliation with the leader (i.e. LMX), but they will not adopt such attributes as their own if there is a lack of value congruence (p. 493). Chinese culture, in general, is characterized by hierarchies and high power distance (Spencer-Oatey, 1997), where people tend to accept and even expect unequally distributed power. It is thus difficult for followers to internalize the humility and altruism attributes of their servant leaders. Followers may perceive servant leaders as a rare hero or exemplar at a high and distant level, but remain skeptical whether they can or should replicate such servant behaviors, especially when they feel they have limited resources inside and outside of the organization to sustain such behaviors. Furthermore, the government plays a central role in Chinese society, so public employees may see themselves as “officials” instead of true servants in front of the general public. Even though they are very willing to reciprocate the service rendered by their leaders, they may not feel comfortable delivering the same quality of service toward people they “manage.” It may be unrealistic to assume the modeling process will take place naturally. Future studies are needed to investigate what servant leaders can do to encourage followers emulate their service behaviors, and investigate if the results remain the same in other cultural contexts. We caution that it is premature to conclude the learning/modeling process is completely not working, even in Chinese public sector. Schwarz et al. (2016) found that servant leadership is related to public service motivation among a group of government employees in Zhejiang, which is a wealthy province on the east coast of China, known for its booming private enterprises (Ye and Wei, 2005). The important role of private economy may have changed the local cultural norm and helped employees to accept equality and internalize the values of servant leaders. Our sample was drawn from many places of China, thus a better representation of typical Chinese employees’ values at the moment. However, as China gets more globalized and market-economy-oriented, employees’ personal values will change too, so we expect both the social exchange mechanism and the social learning mechanism hypothesized in our study may be supported in future studies. Practical implications Our study has practical implications for managers. We found that servant leadership can help produce engaged employees. Leaders can motivate by putting followers’ interests before their own, by engaging in moral and ethical decision making, and by developing and mentoring followers. Our study underlines the important role of social exchange in the servant leadership’s influence. By building stronger LMX with employees, servant leaders can boost the morale in the organization and increase employees’ dedication to work. We advocate including service-orientation as an important criterion for leaders’ selection and promotion. To help the social learning process, we encourage servant leaders making themselves more visible to the employees and performing more frequent visits and communications with followers including those who do not directly report to the leaders. By closing the distance from employees, a leader makes it easier for employees to learn from and to follow the leader. Another way is to assign servant leaders as mentors to junior leaders to work on projects together, so that they can learn the complex decision-making process when their servant leaders face a dilemma, instead of just the decision itself or the impact of the decision. 414 JMP 33,6 Limitations and future directions This study should be considered in light of its limitations. In addition to the single cultural context we mentioned above, we caution that our data were reported by followers only. We used time-lagged design to minimize common method variance. But in order to fully address the direction of causality, it would be optimal to measure key variables at more time points, from different data sources, and over a longer span. It will also help to use a less obtrusive data collection method such as diary study (Bakker, 2015) to record followers’ perceptions of servant leadership and subsequent reactions. Conclusion We found that servant leadership is an antecedent of work engagement, and this effect is primarily through the social exchange process, while the social learning process is relatively difficult to take place. In practical terms, our study shows how important it is to use servant leadership to build strong relationships with employees and boost their work motivation. References Avolio, B.J., Walumbwa, F.O. and Weber, T.J. 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About the authors Yuanjie Bao is Assistant Professor in the School of Public Administration and Policy, Renmin University, China. His research interests include leadership, values and person-environment fit. His work has appeared in journals such as Journal of Advanced Nursing and Cross Cultural Management: An International Journal. Chaoping Li is Professor in the School of Public Administration and Policy, Renmin University, China. His research interests include leadership, personality and work engagement. His work has appeared in journals such as Journal of Business Research, Management and Organization Review and Human Resource Management. Chaoping Li is the corresponding author and can be contacted at: lichaoping@ruc.edu.cn Hao Zhao is Associate Professor in Lally School of Management, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. His research interests include entrepreneurship, recruitment, leadership and employee creativity. His work has been published in leading academic journals including Journal of Applied Psychology, Personnel Psychology, Journal of Management, Leadership Quarterly and Journal of Business Venturing. 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In this article, I outline how three distinct characteristics, par- ticularly present in Abrahamic religions, can significantly affect leadership principles and practices: a belief in the existence of and relationship to a God, the faith in and pursuit of a hereafter purpose, and the belief in and attempted adherence to a sacred scripture. Subsequently, I classify two approaches to examine their impact on leader- ship: a scripture-based lens and an empirical lens. I then highlight how the distinct characteristics of Abrahamic religions can either inform and blend into or transform and modify moral theories of leadership. On a manager’s desk in Germany I once saw a prominently placed stone. When I asked about its meaning, the manager told me that it reminded her of the Bible verse John 8:7 (New International Version), in which Jesus says that the person who is without sin should cast the first stone. She explained that the stone symbolized her and her employees’ fallibility, which helpedhertoputthingsintoperspective.Later, during a visit to Pakistan, another manager welcomed me into his company’s prayer room, which also functioned as his office. He said that he did not want a costly office, as this world is ephemeral anyway, and he wished to be approachable for his staff. When talking to religious leaders of secular organizations—like these two managers—about their leadership, religion often features prominently in their reasoning for how and why they lead in certain ways. However, such explanations are not mirrored sufficiently in contemporary theories of leadership (Neubert, 2019). Religious beliefs, values, norms, and practices are still largely absent from these theoriza- tions. In this article, I therefore address the question: How do distinct characteristics of religions affect existing moral theories of leadership? I explain that religions are a social factuality, as they arewidespread,significant,anddistinct.Subsequently, I focus on moral theories of leadership that are partic- ularlyreceptivetointegratingreligions.Thearticlethen progresses along its three contributions. First, I outline how distinct characteristics of many religions—a per- ceived relationship to a God, a hereafter pursuit, and adherence to a sacred source—affect leadership. Sec- ond, I identify a scripture-based lens and an empirical lens through which these characteristics shape leader- ship. Third, I show how these characteristics can either informandblendormorefundamentallytransformand modify existing theories. Finally, I mention limitations and areas for future research, and conclude. RELIGIONS AS SOCIAL FACTUALITY Including religions in theories of leadership war- rants examination for at least three reasons. Religions I gratefully acknowledge helpful comments on earlier versions of this article from Constanze Burda, Bruno Dyck, Soufeina Hamed, Sally Maitlis, Bastian Neumann, Ben Sahlmüller, Therese Thürmer, Oliver Triebel, and partic- ularly Tobias Leipprand. I am thankful for institutional support from LEAD Academy, the Mercator Foundation, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the Chair for Organization Studies at the University of Hamburg, the Institute for Organization Studies at Vienna University of Economics and Business, and Saı̈d Business School at the University of Oxford. Also, I would like to thank editor Phillip Phan and the anonymous reviewers, whose feedback has very much benefited this article. 292 Copyright of the Academy of Management, all rights reserved. Contents may not be copied, emailed, posted to a listserv, or otherwise transmitted without the copyright holder’s express written permission. Users may print, download, or email articles for individual use only. https://doi.org/10.5465/amp.2017.0130 are widespread and significant and have distinct characteristics. First, religions are social constituents of present societies. According to the Pew Research Center (2012), 84% of the world’s population is re- ligiously affiliated, and that number is expected to reach 87% by 2050 (Pew Research Center, 2015). While this does not imply that religions are pre- dominantinanindividuallife,organization,orsociety, it shows that they have an extensive reach. For Habermas (2001), we live in a postsecular society. Re- ligion is a social fact, so the metaphysical becomes a social truth. Stark (1999, p. 270) argued that the secu- larization “doctrine” should be buried in “the grave- yard of failed theories.” And in this symposium, Miller arguesthatpostsecularism“affordsaplaceforreligious voices in academic discourse” (Miller, 2019, p. 307). Guidelines for religion in leadership are important both for religious people who consider enacting them and for those who wish to comprehend leaders who are acting according to a religious paradigm. Second, people may position a religion at the center of their lives. For some believers, their religion is holy and conceived of as an “ultimate concern” (Tillich, 1957, p. 8). In this sense, religions condition human beings’ very existence and claim ultimacy and pri- macy. They may be conceived as prevalent and situ- ated above other value systems, logics, or orders of worth (Gümüsay, 2017). This significance for some believers who are leaders, followers, and colleagues in and across organizations makes it important to consider a religious perspective on leadership. Third, religions have certain distinct commonalities and similarities that allow a funneling into a unique approach toward leadership. Specifically, the three largestAbrahamicreligions(Judaism,Christianity,and Islam) have three commonalities (although not exclu- sively): the belief in the existence of and relationship to a God, the faith in and pursuit of a hereafter purpose, and the belief in and attempted adherence to a sacred scripture. These commonalities can shape the un- derstanding of leadership in a unique way. They also have the potential to have both a positive and a nega- tive influence on leadership behavior. Other aspects of religions, such as specific communities, institutions, traditions, or practices, may also shape leadership but are not unique categorical characteristics to such a re- ligious perspective. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam encompass around 55% of the world population, comprising roughly 31.5% Christians, 23.2% Muslims, and 0.2% Jews (Pew Research Center, 2012). They are monotheistic, divide life into this world and a hereafter, and have a specificscripture. TheTorah is thefoundational text in Judaism; it is part of the larger set of texts known as the Tanakh. The Bible is the core book in Christianity; it consists of the Old and New Testaments. The Quran is the central text in Islam alongside hadith collections, which contain reports about the sayings and doings of Muhammad. Hinduism and Buddhism are also large faith groups: Around 15% of the world’s population is religiously affiliated to Hinduism, with fourprominent denominations (Vaishnavism, Shaivism, Shaktism, and Smartism); approximately 7.1% of the world population is Buddhist, with two dominant branches (Theravada and Mahayana) (Pew Research Center, 2012). Certain denominations of Hinduism and Buddhism entail an afterlife component and sacred sources and believe in a deity. Insights in this article are hence to some extent also applicable to these and other religions with similar characteristics. MORAL THEORIES OF LEADERSHIP This issue’s symposium on Faith in Management Scholarship and Practice called for an integration of faithintoscholarshipandtheorization(Neubert,2019). Given the significant social factuality of religion, I completely concur. Scholarly work has engaged with the intersection of religion and business ethics (Agle & Van Buren, 1999), religion and entrepreneurship (Busenitz & Lichtenstein, 2019; Dana, 2010; Gümüsay, 2015, 2018), and religion and work (Cash & Gray, 2000) and the interconnection between theology and man- agement (Dyck & Schroeder, 2005). Colleagues have refocused their attention on faith at work (Lynn, Naughton, & VanderVeen, 2008, 2011), religion in organizations (Chan-Serafin, Brief, & George, 2013; Dyck & Purser, 2019; Gümüsay, 2017; Gümüsay, Smets, & Morris, 2019; Lounsbury, Tracey, & Phillips, 2014; Tracey, 2012), the “theological turn” (Dyck, 2014, p. 23), and religion and leadership (Gümüsay, 2016;Hicks,2002;Kriger&Seng,2005;Worden,2005). While these streams of work acknowledge the signifi- cance of religion, they do not sufficiently capture how to integrate distinct characteristics of religions into existing theories of leadership. More generally, religions seem to be neglected in articles that do not directly address questions of faith. In 2005, Dent, Higgins, and Wharff (p. 642) wrote, “Our research revealed limited scholarship linking religion with leadership.” Within the recent leadership literature overview compiled by Dinh et al. (2014), religion is not mentioned at all. In their overview, a religious perspective on leadership could either form its own subcategory or be a sepa- rate yet connected stream of work under the category 2019 293Gümüsay of emerging ethical/moral leadership theories. Al- ternatively and theoretically more auspicious, re- ligion could inform and transform existing theories of leadership. In particular but not exclusively, moral theories of leadership would benefit from an integration of re- ligion into their theorizing. According to Dinh et al. (2014), under the category of moral theories of lead- ership fall authentic, ethical, servant, and spiritual leadership. Such theories incorporate a concern for others, values, altruism, ethics, integrity, and role modeling (Brown & Treviño, 2006). However, while moral theories of leadership offer insights into the impact of values and views on leadership behavior that can be implicitly related to religion, they do not encompass certain attributes of a religious perspec- tive. In the following, I hence outline authentic, ethical, servant, and spiritual theories of leadership and briefly relate them to religion. Authentic Leadership Work on authentic leadership began as a result of writings on transformational leadership by Bass and Steidlmeier (1999) and others identifying pseudo versus authentic transformational leaders (Luthans & Avolio, 2003). Authentic leadership concentrates on self-aware, ethical, consistent, and transparent leader behavior. Walumbwa, Avolio, Gardner, Wernsing, and Peterson (2008, p. 94) defined au- thentic leadership as “a pattern of leader behavior that draws upon and promotes both positive psy- chological capacities and a positive ethical climate, to foster greater self-awareness, an internalized moral perspective, balanced processing of informa- tion, and relational transparency on the part of leaders working with followers, fostering positive self-development.” Authentic leadership effectively entails two ele- ments: leaders’ own awareness of their personalities and their values and behavior based on who they are and what they believe in (Avolio & Gardner, 2005; Gardner, Cogliser, Davis, & Dickens, 2011). They are authentic insofar as their inner values align with their outer behavior. The concept of authenticity has its roots in Greek philosophy, reflected by the Greek aphorism “know thyself” (Erickson, 1995; Harter, 2002). Authentic leaders are self-aware and harmo- nize their internal values, thoughts, and emotions with their external actions (Luthans & Avolio, 2003). They are guided by an internal moral perspective, and their actions are in accordance with their in- tentions. Authenticity refers to “one’s relationship with oneself” (Erickson, 1995, p. 124). An authentic leader acts “in accord with the true self, expressing oneself inways that are consistent with innerthoughts and feelings” (Harter, 2002, p. 382). Religion can profoundly affect this notion of leader authenticity and also followers’ trust. Ethical Leadership Ethical leadership is “the demonstration of norma- tively appropriate conduct through personal actions and interpersonal relationships, and the promotion of such conduct to followers through two-way com- munication, reinforcement, and decision-making” (Brown, Treviño, & Harrison, 2005, p. 120). Eisenbeiss (2012) developed four central normative reference points of ethical leadership: humane orientation to treat others with dignity and respect, justice orienta- tion to act fairly and consistently, responsibility and sustainability orientation to enact long-term views and consider societal and environmental welfare, and moderation orientation to be humble. While much research focuses on the leader, recent research has zoomed in on the followers and their moral attentiveness (Fehr, Yam, & Dang, 2015; van Gils, Van Quaquebeke, van Knippenberg, van Dijke, & De Cremer, 2015). Religion offers specific views on ethics as well as reason and reasoning to adhere to it (Eisenbeiss, 2012; Kriger & Seng, 2005). It can function as a defining and binding source for ethics. Servant Leadership Servant leadership is an emerging research area linked to ethics, morality, and virtues (Graham, 1991; Liden, Wayne, Zhao, & Henderson, 2008; Parris & Peachey, 2013; Sendjaya, Sarros, & Santora, 2008). This theory emphasizes service to others related to an ex- pected enhancement of the psychological needs of fol- lowers (Mayer, 2010; van Dierendonck, Stam, Boersma, de Windt, & Alkema, 2014). It was introduced through three essays by the practitioner Greenleaf (1970, 1972a, 1972b). For Greenleaf (1977, pp. 13–14): The Servant-Leader is servant first. . . . It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. . . . The best test, and difficult to administer is this: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, and more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society? Will they benefit, or at least not further be harmed? 294 AugustAcademy of Management Perspectives Van Dierendonck (2011) developed a conceptual model of servant leadership with six key character- istics: that servant leaders empower and develop people, show humility, are authentic, accept people for who they are, provide direction, and take stew- ardship. Service of a leader may be encouraged and specified by religion. Servitude toward a higher be- ing can also shape service toward followers. Spiritual Theories of Leadership While there are multiple definitions of spiritual leadership (Dent et al., 2005), it is commonly about meaning, faith, and the notion of a calling. According to Ashforth and Pratt (2003), spirituality comprises a transcendence of the self, holism, and harmony as well as growth. Fry (2003, pp. 694–695) defined spiritual leadership as “comprising the values, attitudes, and behaviors that are necessary to in- trinsically motivate one’s self and others so that they have a sense of spiritual survival through calling and membership.” Spiritual leaders create a vision and value congruence toward organizational commit- ment and belonging, instilling a sense of calling and meaning as well as infusing hope, faith, and a cul- ture of altruistic love into the organization. The concept of spirituality has produced a grow- ing body of literature (Melé & Fontrodona, 2017; Mitroff & Denton, 1999; Neck & Milliman, 1994; Steingard, 2005). While some scholars relate spirituality to various religions (Korac-Kakabadse, Kouzmin, & Kakabadse, 2002), it is not considered identical to religion (Giacalone & Jurkiewicz, 2003; Mitroff & Denton, 1999). King (2008, p. 220) high- lighted that researchers are encouraged toward spirituality and away from religion. Hicks (2002) critically engaged with the spirituality–religion dichotomy and pointed out that spirituality is of- ten defined in opposition to religion. For Hicks (2002, p. 380) religion is falsely contrasted with spirituality as “institutional, dogmatic, and rigid,” while “spirituality is personal, emotional, and adaptable to an individual’s needs.” Religion can shape spirituality, as it may be a source of specific spiritual practices, values, and beliefs. Spirituality is possibly a necessary condition for a religious perspective on leadership. A religious perspective on leadership could therefore be conceived as a sufficient condition for the existence of spiritual leadership. Spiritual leadership comes closest to a religious perspective with its faith-based and self-transcendence attributes. However, spiritual theories are different from religious theories of leadership, as they do not entail a sacred scriptural source or a concept of the hereafter, or necessarily relate to a supreme being. A RELIGIOUS PERSPECTIVE ON LEADERSHIP Religion can be defined through a focus on its substantive characteristics. Worden (2005, p. 221), for instance, provided a definition of religion as “a particular institutionalized or personal system of beliefs, values and practices relating to the divine—a level of reality or power that is regarded as the ‘source’ or ‘ultimate’, transcending yet immanent in the realm of human experience.” Such a definition entails components that are not unique to religion but also exist outside the religious sphere, like a system of beliefs. In contrast, focusing on the unique attributes of religion offers insights into the distinct impact of religion on leadership theory. In other words, I intend to look for those characteristics that are both significant for leadership and distinctively religious, and thus conceptually complementary for existing theories of leadership to develop a religious perspective for leadership theory and practice more generally. Through conversations with leaders, I began ex- ploring what aspects of religion affect leadership principles and practices. They mentioned multifold facets such as communities, rituals, and deities. I then distinguished those aspects that are distinctly religious. Communities and rituals, for instance, are significant attributes that are shaped by religion in the form of religious communities and sacred rit- uals. However, nonreligious leaders have similarly mentioned the significance of rituals and diverse communities. Secular organizations can even mir- ror religious beliefs and practices (Ashforth & Vaidyanath, 2002). In other words, aspects such as communities and rituals are not used exclusively in religious contexts. Ultimately, three characteristics of religion emerged that are significant for both leadership and distinctive for most religions: a deity, a hereafter purpose, and a sacred scripture. A first distinct characteristic of a religious per- spective is the relationship with a perceived higher being. Such a deity is above and beyond the leader. In this relationship, the leader is positioned toward someone who is not led by him or her. Instead, the leader may be conceived as a follower of such a God. This affects the concept of leadership, as the leader is simultaneously a follower or servant of this supreme being, to whom the leader is ultimately accountable. It also means that leaders act and embody being 2019 295Gümüsay servant leaders, as they do not only serve their fol- lowers but are also servant followers in relationship to their God. The fact that a higher being is above the leader and the specific characteristics and under- standings of that relationship may shape the leader- ship approach of the leader toward followers. The perceived relationship also has a potential “dark side” (Haynes, Hitt, & Campbell, 2015; Vince & Mazen, 2014); for example, when leaders abuse their power and misuse religion, claiming they act as agents of God to legitimize destructive activities. We can observe this empirically, for instance, through fundamentalist interpretations of religions (Miller, 2019). A second distinct characteristic of a religious perspective on leadership is a hereafter pursuit and purpose. The primary objective is to draw nearer to and to please a God. This does not exclude creating or pursuing values in this world. On the contrary, religions may emphasize both, to act in this world and pursue a hereafter. However, this objective shifts the focus and purpose toward a God and life beyond this world, potentially broadening the temporal ho- rizon of a leader. This means that a leader aspires to something transcendental, otherworldly, and eter- nal. As a result, religion transmits a distinctiveness to the purpose, which makes it otherworldly or ex- traordinary. It offers a purpose beyond the finite boundaries of this world. However, it may also in- duce a neglect of this world or simplistic and dyadic categorizations of good and evil, correct and wrong. At the same time, knowing that a leader has a certain otherworldly pursuit may shape the behavior of followers. They may, for example, reconsider the implications of the principal–agent problem, whereby the agent may be motivated to act in his own interest and contrary to the principal’s. If an organi- zation selects a leader and then faces the principal– agent problem with this leader–agent, religion may shape the leader–agent’s behavior. Such a leader might not maximize his or her utility in this world, but might rather focus on enacting his or her values and hereafter purpose. In other words, when a leader adheres to religious values, and this is recognized by followers, the leader might obtain perceived and/or actual integrity, which can resolve the principal– agent problem. A third distinct characteristic of a religious per- spective on leadership builds on sacred scripture. Such scripture entails divine guidelines for and stories about leadership. Works have considered the leadership qualities of different key individuals in religions, such as Abraham (Fischer & Friedman, 2017), Jesus (Jones, 2001; Mabey, Conroy, Blakeley, & de Marco, 2017; Manz, 2011), Moses (Ben-Hur & Jonsen, 2012; Wildavsky, 1984), Muhammad (Beekun, 2012), Paul (Whittington, Pitts, Kageler, & Goodwin, 2005), and Solomon (Manz, Manz, Marx, & Neck, 2001). Alternatively, one can look at direct scriptural advice for leaders, such as how Moses listened to ad- vice and delegated responsibility (Exodus 18:13–27), and more generally the so-called golden rule to “do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31; Matthew 7:12), to reach out to the poor (Deuteronomy 15:7-8; Psalms 41:1–3; Proverbs 28:27; 29:7), and to respect everyone (Peter 2:17). These nar- ratives, recommendations, and commandments in- spireandprescribepracticeandpurpose.Aleadermay infer how to act through the scripture, which functions as a sacred guideline and a moral or immoral compass. Scripture can thus guide and misguide leaders. The compass can offer a framework for action, which is both somewhat divinely binding to the leader and transparent for the followers. The three distinct characteristics of certain re- ligions contribute to the development of a religious perspective on leadership. For and within each re- ligion, there are nuanced differences in their con- ceptualization and application. For instance, the Christian Trinity doctrine holds that God is the unity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The relationship between a leader and the Christian deity is therefore potentially influenced by the Trinity as well as the fact that Jesus is conceived as both God and man. Similarly, diverse views of an afterlife and its re- lationship to this world, as well as different scrip- tural guidelines between and within religions, including their variations and interpretations of texts, require zooming in on these nuances. In Table 1, I use scriptural examples of the Islamic faith and illustrate how the relationship to God, the hereafter purpose, and guidelines and narratives of the sacred scripture shape leadership. Scholars have advanced our understanding of an Islamic perspective on leadership inter alia through his- torical analysis of leadership succession in early Islam (Campbell, 2008), engagement with religious sources (Abeng, 1997), and empirical analysis of Islamic organizational leadership within a Western context (Faris & Parry, 2011). Beekun and Badawi (1999) developed a normative model of Islamic leadership based on four layers of Islamic moral char- acter linked to belief, practice, God-consciousness, and love for God and five parameters of Islamic be- havior: justice, trust, righteousness, inner struggle for self-improvement, and keeping promises. The 296 AugustAcademy of Management Perspectives T A B L E 1 D is ti n ct A tt ri b u te s a n d T h ei r Im p a ct o n L ea d er sh ip F ro m a n Is la m ic F a it h P er sp ec ti v e P er ce iv ed re la ti o n sh ip to G o d H er ea ft er p u rs u it A d h er en ce to sa cr ed so u rc es W h il e G o d is se lf -s u ff ic ie n t in h is b ei n g, h u m an s ar e co n ce iv ed as d ep en d en t an d co n ti n ge n t o n h im .A ll ah is se en as th e o n e an d o n ly G o d ,w h o is et er n al an d ab so lu te (Q u ra n 1 1 2 :1 -4 ). H u m an s ar e cr ea te d to w o rs h ip G o d (Q u ra n 5 1 :5 7 ). G o d is b ey o n d h u m an co m p re h en si o n ,y et cl o se r to h u m an s th an th ei r ju gu la r v ei n (Q u ra n 5 0 :1 6 ). T h ro u gh h is 9 9 n am es ,o n e m ay in fe r h is at tr ib u te s, su ch as th e A ll -C o m p as si o n at e, S u st ai n er ,A ll -A w ar e, L o v in g O n e, an d A ll -P o w er fu l. In S u ra h 2 5 ,v er se 6 3 ,i t sa y s: “ A n d th e se rv an ts o ft h e M o st M er ci fu la re th o se w h o w al k u p o n th e ea rt h ea si ly ,w it h h u m il it y .” L ea d er s ar e th er eb y se en as se rv an ts o fG o d ,w h o re fe rs to h im se lf as th e M o st M er ci fu l in th is v er se . H u m an s ar e co n si d er ed tr u st ee s o r v ic e re ge n ts in th is w o rl d (Q u ra n 2 :3 0 ;5 7 :7 )w it h fi n al o w n er sh ip b el o n gi n g to A ll ah (Q u ra n 2 4 :3 3 ). T h is gi v es th em b o th a ro le in th is w o rl d an d a re la ti o n sh ip w it h G o d .I n Is la m ,h u m an b ei n gs h av e a p o si ti o n as tr u st ee o f so m et h in g fo r so m eo n e. A n o n -e n ac tm en t o f p ro p er le ad er sh ip h as d ir ec t re p er cu ss io n s fo r th e le ad er .G iv en th e co n se q u en ce s, th is ca n re su lt in m o re p ru d en t b u t al so m o re ag gr es si v e b eh av io r. In a h ad it h (M u sl im 1 4 2 d ) M u h am m ad st re ss es ,“ A ru le r w h o h as b ee n en tr u st ed w it h th e af fa ir s o f th e M u sl im s, b u tm ak es n o en d ea v o r (f o r th ei r m at er ia l an d m o ra l u p li ft m en t) an d is n o t si n ce re ly co n ce rn ed (f o r th ei r w el fa re ) w il l n o t en te r P ar ad is e al o n g w it h th em .” M u sl im s ar e n o t su p p o se d to fo cu s o n ly o n th e af te rl if e. T h ey m ay p u rs u e “ fr o m th e b o u n ty o f A ll ah ” in th is w o rl d (Q u ra n 6 2 : 1 0 ). H o w ev er ,t h e u lt im at e o b je ct iv e is to re tu rn to G o d (Q u ra n 8 9 :2 8 -2 9 ). A n af te rl if e li n k ag e o f th e m et ap h y si ca l h en ce sh ap es b o th an u n d er st an d in g an d b eh av io r in th is w o rl d an d it s ro le v is -à -v is th e h er ea ft er . A cc o rd in g to Is la m ic te n et s, le ad er sh ip is ac k n o w le d ge d ,r eq u ir ed , an d p er fo rm ed b y ev er y o n e in ce rt ai n si tu at io n s. M u h am m ad st at es (B u k h ar i 2 7 5 1 ), “ A ll o f y o u ar e gu ar d ia n s an d re sp o n si b le fo r y o u r ch ar ge s. ” T h er e is ex p li ci ta ck n o w le d gm en to fl ea d er sh ip in th e Q u ra n in S u ra h 4 3 ,v er se 2 2 ,w h er e it sa y s, “ A ll ah h as ra is ed so m e o f u s ab o v e u s in ra n k .” A w el l- k n o w n h ad it h (A b u D aw u d 2 6 0 2 )s ta te s: “ W h en th re e ar e o n a jo u rn ey ,t h ey sh o u ld ap p o in to n e o f th em as th ei r co m m an d er .” T h e Q u ra n en ta il s sp ec if ic gu id el in es fo r le ad er s an d p eo p le m o re ge n er al ly ,s u ch as to n o t ch ea t (Q u ra n 1 7 :3 5 ) o r b e ar ro ga n t (3 1 :1 8 ; 5 7 :2 3 ); to b e ri gh te o u s (4 9 :1 3 ); to ac t ju st ly (5 :1 1 ;6 :1 5 2 ;3 3 :7 0 ); to b e p at ie n t (3 2 :2 4 ;4 2 :4 3 ), h u m b le (2 5 :6 3 ), co m p et en t, an d k n o w le d ge ab le (2 8 :1 4 ); an d to se ek ad v ic e an d co n su lt at io n (Q u ra n 4 2 :3 8 ). P eo p le ar e to ld to gi v e ju st m ea su re an d w ei gh t (1 1 :8 5 ;1 7 :3 5 ; 5 5 :9 ) an d to fu lf il l th ei r co n tr ac ts (5 :1 ). T h ey ar e o b li ge d to co m p en sa te th ei r w o rk er s in fu ll an d o n ti m e (I b n M aj ah 3 :1 6 ,2 4 4 3 ;h ad it h q u d si 2 1 ). V ar io u s n ar ra ti v es o ff er in d ir ec t ad v ic e b y il lu st ra ti n g m ai n ly , al th o u gh n o t ex cl u si v el y ,t h e le ad er sh ip b eh av io r o f p ro p h et s. F o r in st an ce ,M u sa (Q u ra n 2 8 :2 6 ) an d Y u su f (Q u ra n 1 2 :4 6 ) ar e d ep ic te d as tr u st w o rt h y .A sp ec ia l ro le is co n fe rr ed o n M u h am m ad ,d es cr ib ed in th e Q u ra n as an il lu m in at in g la m p (3 3 :4 6 ) an d o f gr ea t m o ra l ch ar ac te r (3 3 :2 1 ;6 8 :4 ). T h e so -c al le d S u n n ah ,h is d o in gs an d sa y in gs ,a re ex te n si v el y en ac te d b y M u sl im s. T h er e ar e al so gu id el in es an d n ar ra ti v es fo r fo ll o w er sh ip .I n o n e h ad it h (B u k h ar i 7 1 4 5 ), M u h am m ad ap p o in ts so m eo n e as a co m m an d er o f an ar m y u n it an d o rd er s th e so ld ie rs to o b ey h im . T h e co m m an d er b ec o m es an gr y w it h th em d u ri n g th e ca m p ai gn an d o rd er s th em to co ll ec t w o o d ,m ak e fi re ,a n d th ro w th em se lv es in to it .T h ey co ll ec t w o o d an d m ak e a fi re ,b u t th ey d o n o t th ro w th em se lv es in to it ,r es p o n d in g th at th ey fo ll o w th e p ro p h et to es ca p e fr o m th e fi re so th ey w il l n o t en te r it n o w .T h e co m m an d er ’s an ge ra b at es an d th e fi re is ex ti n gu is h ed .M u h am m ad h ea rs ab o u t th is in ci d en t an d re m ar k s: “ If th ey h ad en te re d it ,t h ey w o u ld n ev er h av e co m e o u t o f it ,f o r o b ed ie n ce is re q u ir ed o n ly in w h at is go o d .” In an o th er h ad it h (A b u D aw u d 4 3 4 4 ) M u h am m ad sa y s, “ T h e b es t fi gh ti n g in th e p at h o f A ll ah is a w o rd o f ju st ic e to an o p p re ss iv e ru le r. ” F o ll o w er sh ip h en ce re q u ir es o b ed ie n ce , b u t al so cr it ic al en ga ge m en t w it h th e b eh av io r o f le ad er s. 2019 297Gümüsay insights I contribute with this article are compati- ble with their model, as both moral character and Islamic practice are shaped by a belief in God, a hereafter purpose, and adherence to a sacred scripture. At the same time, I offer wider applica- tions and theoretical implications as well as rea- soning for the potential dark side of leadership by religious people. A belief in a deity, a hereafter, and sacred scrip- ture may offer guidelines and narratives that help as a stable framework particularly in volatile, un- certain, complex, ambiguous, and even paradoxical (vucap) moments and times. A religious framework offers fundamental values even when fixed goals may be difficult to define. Woolfe (2002), for ex- ample, inferred leadership values from the Bible and structured them along honesty and integrity; purpose; kindness and compassion; humility; communication; performance management; team development; courage; justice and fairness; and leadership development. Religion may provide a source of and for meaning for leaders, and they can convey its values to their followers. While the in- terpretation may change over time and across space, and guidelines may be flexible, the textual core re- mains rather fixed. The values and meaning may thus offer a leader an anchor on how to lead. This is of particular significance if other potential anchors are in flux. A religious perspective also needs to take into ac- count context—for example, communities, environ- ment, organizations, and traditions. These are not unique components of a religious perspective, but they are integral parts of religion and leadership. Synagogues, churches, mosques, and temples offer places of worship where leaders and followers can come together and form a community. The self be- comes embedded in a larger contemporary and his- toriccommunity.Equally, communities, institutions, and traditions may induce division and social dis- sonance. Leaders, followers, and their context are shaped by rituals, ceremonies, and social bonds that (dis)connect across time and space. Followers may also be more or less religiously in- clined. They may obtain prescriptions on how to follow and how to enact their relationship with leaders. For example, in Hebrews 13:17, people are told to submit to the authority of leaders. Equally, leaders are bound by these guidelines, which are self- imposed due to their beliefs. For instance, Abu Bakr, the first caliph in Islam, said on the occasion of his first Friday sermon: “O people! I have been selected as your trustee although I am no better than anyone of you. If I am right, obey me. If I am misguided, set me right” (Beekun & Badawi, 1999, p. 45). It should be added that a religious perspective does not require followers or the organization to be re- ligious, nor does it necessitate the desire of the leader to make followers or the organization religious. There may be a special bond between a leader and fol- lowers if both believe in a or the same religion and acknowledge strategic issues in religious organiza- tions (Miller, 2002). However, the leadership behav- ior is not dependent on the religiousness of followers or the organizational setting. Leadership is shaped by religion if the leaders are religious to a certain extent and integrate their religious beliefs and values into their leadership practices and principles. TWO LENSES FOR A RELIGIOUS PERSPECTIVE Religions comprise both texts and context. Texts are a source for enactment in context. The religious perspective on leadership may hence be approached both conceptually and methodologically from two angles: through a scriptural lens and an empirical lens. The former moves from texts like the Torah, Bi- ble, and Quran to people and considers proscriptions and prescriptions for leadership. It derives potential practices from scripture. The latter analytically moves from people to texts looking at the enactment of re- ligious sources. It observes and analyzes the inter- preted actual practices of sacred texts by religious people. A scriptural lens analyzes inter alia guidelines for and stories of leadership. For leadership theories, these guidelines and narratives are analyzed and understood to have an authoritative and dispositive value for leaders who are religious. Scriptural rules, narratives, and guidelines are thereby interpreted, institutionally contextualized, and finally wholly or partially enacted. Such an approach determines the selection of sacred scriptures, examines scriptural guidelines, contextualizes them, and identifies spe- cific values and practices. For leadership theory, the entire process is worth analyzing to observe how sacred scripture is transformed into practice. Leadership advice, rules, and regulations have dif- ferent sources in scriptures. They may be direct com- mands or recommendations, which exist as indirect narratives and may be categorized in prophetic and nonprophetic stories. For example, in Exodus 18:21, Moses is advised to select a successor who possesses a fear of God, is a man of truth, and hates covetousness. In Luke 22:26, Jesus advises his apostles that a leader should be like a servant. He himself is a role model 298 AugustAcademy of Management Perspectives who came to serve (Matthew 20:28). In Proverbs 29:4 a king is described as someone who gives stability to a land by justice. Hence leadership attributes can be derived through these verses. Certainly, scripture does not stand for itself but requires interpretation. It may even offer what can seem to be incompatible guidance. For instance, when a king calls Yusuf to himself, Yusuf says in the Quran (12:55): “Appoint me over the storehouses of the land. Indeed, I will be a knowing guardian.” He emphasizes that he will be knowing (i.e., competent) and a guardian (i.e., a protector). Yusuf shows that he is able and willing to lead. We can link this to the hadith (Bukhari 1) that deeds are judged by their intentions. Inner intentions are supposed to be in line with external action. At the same time, there is also the notion in Islam that leadership should not be directly requested and desired. When two compan- ions of Muhammad ask him to appoint them as governors, he responds, “We do not assign the au- thority of ruling to those who ask for it, nor to those who are keen to have it” (Bukhari 7149). It is also worth observing who is interpreting these scriptures and how leaders receive, comprehend, and contextualize these interpretations. They may seek expert advice or views from other leaders or interpret and contextualize the guidelines themselves. The contextualization finally leads to potential practice, which is commonly enacted only partially by leaders. Often,religiousinstitutionssuchaschurches,mosques, synagogues, and temples have a key role in this process. In addition, it is also important to know whether and how enactment traverses back to re- ligious institutions, which may shape their future guidelines or communication of guidelines. The second of the two angles is the empirical lens, which examines actual practice. Unlike a scriptural approach, an empirical lens contemplates the en- actment of leadership by professionals in specific fields, such as religious managers in secular work- places or leaders in public organizations. Religious professionals can be interviewed and surveyed about their religious motivations and enact- ments. Leaders of organizations, such as churches, mosques, synagogues, and temples, may form a special group, as their organizations are explicitly religious. An empirical approach would analyze views and observations and incorporate these into an empirically grounded religious perspective on leadership with respect to the particular organiza- tional settings. The scriptural and empirical lenses are inter- linked both in practice and in theory. In practice, leaders are shaped by scripture and influence the interpretation of it. In theory, an understanding of the scripture informs empirical analysis and em- pirical observations inform a reading of the scrip- ture. In between a scriptural lens and an empirical lens could be added a focus on authoritative and contextualized documents such as the Catholic magisterium; work and practices by eminent figures such as Maimonides, Augustine of Hippo, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, and Al-Ghazali; and ser- mons offered by priests as interpretations and contextualizations of sacred sources, but not en- actments. These works, figures, and sermons offer an in-between to comprehend the role of religion in leadership. Overall, the scriptural and empirical lenses offer two different means to conceptualize theoretically and analyze methodologically the im- pact of religion on leadership. Given that this is a conceptual article, I use a scriptural lens to derive implications for theory. IMPLICATIONS FOR THEORY The distinct attributes of religions shape existing theories of leadership in two ways: either informing and refining or transforming and modifying such theories. Focusing on moral theories of leadership, I illustrate how religion informs ethical and spiritual leadership theories and transforms authentic and servant leadership theories. I also briefly add its potential impact on other theories of leadership. Figure 1 presents a graphical overview. Informing Existing Moral Theories of Leadership Ethical leadership is both “the demonstration of normatively appropriate conduct” and “the promo- tion of such conduct” (Brown et al., 2005, p. 120). For leaders who are religious, what is deemed appropri- ate is shaped by their faith. For instance, Kriger and Seng (2005) showed how leadership is contingent on diverse inner meaning, values, vision, and morals often derived from religions. Similarly, work in ethi- cal leadership has considered the religious roots of many ethical orientations that are directly influenced by religion (Eisenbeiss, 2012). A transcendental pursuit may offer an additional normative reference point. Leaders who are religious may conceive of these reference points derived from scripture as inspirations, binding rules and commands, or rec- ommendations that inform and specify leadership principles and practices. Equally, the belief in a hereafter and a deity may form a sense of commitment 2019 299Gümüsay for ethical as well as unethical behavior, potentially out of reasons such as love, fear, or respect. Each religion is likely to have a particular angle that blends in a certain way with ethical leader- ship theory. For instance, Beekun (2012) identified the following core virtues to describe Muhammad’s character and behavior: truthfulness and integrity, trustworthiness, justice, benevolence, humility, kind- ness, and patience. Muslim leaders who wish to em- ulate Muhammad are guided accordingly toward virtuous and ethical behavior. For Christians, Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross is an essential component of their belief and their conceptualization of their re- lationship to God. While scholars have engaged with the role of religion in spiritual leadership (Dent, Higgins, & Wharff, 2005; Fry, 2003; Phipps, 2011), zooming in on the distinct characteristics can offer additional insights. The spiritual is informed by the belief in a deity, the hereafter, scriptural guidelines, values, and views as well as practices and performances. Key components of spiritual leadership—namely, transcendence of the self, growth, holism, and har- mony (Ashforth & Pratt, 2003)—are qualified by re- ligions. For instance, the transcendence of the self is linked to a transcendent deity, and the objective may be to come ever closer to this deity. The calling and meaning of life is related to pleasing a God and seeking a hereafter. At the same time, a focus on the distinct character- istics of religions may result in leaders losing sight of transcendence and tending toward institutional ri- gidity. Religion is a “double-edged sword” (Gümüsay, 2016, p. 4). On one hand, it can offer specificities for spirituality as well as social communities, rituals, and practices that may assist in spiritual leadership. On the other hand, it can move leaders away from spiri- tuality. Either way, the distinct characteristics inform spiritual leadership principles. Transforming Existing Moral Theories of Leadership Authentic leadership is commonly about internal and external congruence. Authentic leaders enact their own values and beliefs not because others are observing their behavior or to attain a certain repu- tation, but because of their personal intent. At a basic level, religion may offer leaders reasons and values for authenticity. When a God is considered all-seeing and all-knowing, the inner intent of leaders becomes transparent to an external deity. The belief in a God who knows both the inner self and outer be- havior and specific religious guidelines for behavior affect an authentic leadership style. Awareness of a leader’s intent to adhere to certain values for re- ligious reasons may instill trust in followers; equally, an authentic but destructive or fanatic adherence to a religion can cause mistrust and skepticism in followers. More profoundly, and in line with sociological work, authenticity is a matter of conformity to more or less agreed upon criteria of a particular type or category (Carroll & Wheaton, 2009). Religious beliefs and values may form such a social category. This implies that a leader conforms and commits to the religious guidelines (i.e., is authentic and con- sistent vis-à-vis these criteria, regardless of or in FIGURE 1 Distinct Attributes, Two Interrelated Lenses, and Impact on Moral Theories of Leadership Perceived relationship to God Adherence to sacred sources Hereafter pursuit scriptural empirical Attributes Lenses Impact on moral theories of leadership Informing existing theories Ethical leadership: religion as source for ethical values, narratives, and guidelines; transcendental as additional normative reference point Spiritual leadership: religion as source for inspiration, meaning, and narratives; deity as additional spiritual aspiration Transforming existing theories Authentic leadership: authenticity defined by religion; from internal-external consistency to novel scripture-external consistency Servant leadership: servitude depicted by religion; from single service to followers to double service to followers and God 300 AugustAcademy of Management Perspectives tension with internal–external personal consis- tency), thereby fundamentally modifying authentic leadership theory. Scripture–external consistency is substituted for internal–external personal consis- tency. Followers may then use scripture to examine leader authenticity. Servant leadership accentuates service to fol- lowers. The notion of leaders as servants often has an implicit Christian connotation and background (e.g., Matthew 20:27-28). Similarly in Islam, leader- ship “is a relational social practice, a process of in- teraction between leaders and followers which should be based on mutual engagement and trust” (Metcalfe & Mimouni, 2011, pp. 25–26). It is con- ceived as a responsibility of leaders and a trust (amanah) between leaders and followers (Ali, 2009; Beekun & Badawi, 1999; Faris & Parry, 2011). An explicit religious perspective may add novel relationships that fundamentally modify servant leadership theory. Humans are thereby conceived as servants to their God. Servant leaders thus become double servants to both their followers and to God. These relationships can shape each other, and questions arise about their primacy and significance: Do leaders serve both their God and their followers, or is there a hierarchy that results in neglecting one for the other? Is serving a deity always compatible with serving followers, or are there instances in which leaders perceive that they have to decide to serve one instead of the other? In fact, scripture may entail narratives and guidelines not only about how to serve others but also about the structural signifi- cance and ordering of serving both a God and people. Clearly, belief in a deity increases the complexity of servant leadership theory, as it adds relationships between the higher being on one hand and the leader as well as followers on the other hand. Moreover, beliefs and guidelines shape the relationship be- tween leader and followers, too. In Christianity, the belief that Jesus interfuses these categories as both the son of God and a human being presents a unique angle on the double servitude. Impact on Other Theories of Leadership Religion needs to be integrated into other theories of leadership, too. For instance, transactional lead- ership (Bass, 1990) can be connected to the role of eschatological and hereafter rewards and punish- ments in religions; charismatic leadership (Conger, 1989; Conger & Kanungo, 1987; House, 1977) can be evaluated through an analysis of the impact of charismatic prophets in scripture. Religion can also provide inspiration, narratives, stories, and advice for transformational leaders, who have an idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stim- ulation, and individualized consideration (Bass, 1990; Bass & Riggio, 2006). Social exchange or relational theories such as leader–member exchange (Graen & Uhl-Bien, 1995) examine the dyadic relationship between leaders and followers. Leader–member exchange (LMX) could be amplified to a triadic relationship by in- cluding a God-entity and by considering the impact of religion on the leader–member relationship. This results in a God–leader–member exchange (GLMX). The perceived existence of a God can thereby affect the leader, the members, and the exchange. Various theories link leadership to humility (Morris, Brotheridge, & Urbanski, 2005). A leader is both humble and forceful. For Collins (2001, p. 21) a great leader combines these qualities as a “level 5 leader,” one who has a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will. Religion may pro- vide a means to deal with this paradox. Inspired and motivated by religion, such a leader is leading for the sake of God, with God in mind. The leader does not provide either the ultimate guide or the value system but rather interprets and reflects them. While such a leader may act with strength and will, she or he is also ultimately not the final focal point. The ultimate entity above the leader may provide him or her with humbleness—but also potentially with arrogance and a false claim to a divine right to lead. In the face of an all-powerful God, a leader can find humility while remaining strong and willful to lead. For instance, Al-Ghazali (1983, p. 49), an influential Islamic theologian, wrote, “Humility is caused by the awareness that we are always in the sight of God, by awareness of His majesty and by awareness of our human failings.” At the same time, we should note that fundamentalists may interpret the stewardship as a divine legitimacy to use destructive force. LIMITATIONS AND FUTURE RESEARCH This article concentrates on distinct characteris- tics of religions and how these affect leadership theory and practice. While I have provided exam- ples from different religions, I have not elaborated on the intracomplexities of each religion and inter- complexities between religions. Rather, I intended to build a parsimonious conceptual understanding as a starting point. In the following, I will outline four areas I think would benefit from more conceptual and empirical work. 2019 301Gümüsay First, we need to consider the diversity within each religion. While I argue for the uniqueness of a religious perspective, this does not imply a unique- ness of religions. We need to analyze, for instance, how the role of a God, the hereafter purpose, and the sacred source diversely affect the understanding of leadership within religious denominations and institutions. This requires a coherent analysis of intrareligious differences, such as Orthodox, Conser- vative, Reform, and Reconstructionist Judaism; Cath- olic, Protestant, and Orthodox Christianity; Hanafi, Hanbali, Maliki and Shafi’I Sunni, and Shia Islam; Vaishnavism, Shaivism, Shaktism, and Smartism as Hindu denominations; and Theravada and Mahayana branches in Buddhism, as well as organizational set- tings and consequences for leadership. Second, we need more comparative analysis on how religion affects leadership. Given the diverse specificities of religions, leadership is shaped in different manners. The role of human beings and their relationship to a God, the hereafter purpose, and the means of this pursuit, as well as the content of the sacred sources, have an interreligious di- versity. Kriger and Seng (2005) offered valuable comparative insights into leadership in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism. Building on these insights, we need to integrate the three distinct components of a religious per- spective on leadership identified in this article with such comparative findings. This calls for empiri- cal research into how the scripture is diversely comprehended and enacted in both religious insti- tutions and secular organizational settings. Third, we need to identify and examine modera- tors between leadership and religion. Weaver and Agle (2002) underlined the fact that behavior in business due to religious role expectations is mod- erated by religious identity salience and religious motivational orientation. Equally, the effect of re- ligion on leadership is likely moderated by organi- zational factors. The religious diversity of workers, for instance, can affect the explicit or implicit sig- nificance of religion on leadership. More broadly, contextual factors influence and interweave with religious ones to shape management and leadership (Forster & Fenwick, 2015). Further research on the type of moderators, the process of moderation, and the size of impact is warranted. Fourth, religious beliefs, values, guidelines, and distinct characteristics need to be further integrated into theories of leadership. Religions affect the be- havior, cognition, emotion, ethics, and identity of leaders, to name just a few aspects. I have suggested some implications in this article, but to more accu- rately depict reality leadership theories would ben- efit from further research. The specificities of each religion, comparative analysis of religions, moderators between religions and leadership, and integration into other leadership theories encompass a large research agenda. It ne- cessitates engagement with both the sources of re- ligions and their interpretations and enactments. This warrants both conceptual and empirical work that identifies patterns of commonalities and differ- ences and involves comprehending contextual in- fluences in two ways: First, context affects religion directly, which may shape leadership theory. Sec- ond, context may frame the setting of leadership (Gagnon & Collinson, 2014) and thus affect leader- ship alongside religion. This entails further scrutiny of how a multiplicity of value systems shape lead- ership theory and practice. In other words, we need a clearer understanding of how intrareligious, inter- religious, and intervalues systems affect leadership theories and practices. CONCLUSION Religions are part of social reality and shape con- temporary societies, organizational settings, and leadership behavior. They are present not only in religious institutions such as churches and organi- zational hybrids with a distinct religious focus like faith-based funds, but also in secular organizations with (some) religious managers and workers. Most religions entail a belief in and relationship to a God, a hereafter pursuit, and sacred scripture. In this article, I have considered how these affect leadership be- havior. A deity above a leader is an additional re- lationship outside formal organizational boundaries that positions a leader below another entity. A here- after purpose frames actions and activities in this world. A sacred source provides religious leaders and followers with holy guidelines and meaningful nar- ratives. Importantly, all of these characteristics can havebothnegativeandpositiveimplicationsforleader- ship behavior. I have presented two approaches to integrating religion into leadership. On one hand, a scriptural lens looks at sacred sources—often interpreted and explained by religious institutions—and their impli- cations on leadership. On the other hand, an empirical lens considers the enactment of religious guidelines, values, and narratives by individuals and organiza- tions, deriving insights for leadership. In between, there is also the possibility of considering sermons and 302 AugustAcademy of Management Perspectives other documents and practices that interpret and con- textualize scripture but do not enact it directly. Finally, I have outlined how the distinct attributes shape theories of leadership and thus warrant in- tegration. Specifically, I have shown how they in- form ethical and spiritual leadership theories and transform authentic and servant leadership theories. Certainly, this would benefit from further research to increase our understanding of the effects of religion on leadership theory and practice. I wholeheartedly believe more is to come. 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His work focuses on institutions, values and meaning, hybrid organizing, and novel forms of organizing and grand challenges. It has been published in journals such as Academy of Management Journal, Business & So- ciety, Innovation: Organization & Management, Journal of Business Ethics, and Research Policy. 306 AugustAcademy of Management Perspectives View publication statsView publication stats mailto:ali.guemuesay@uni-hamburg.de https://www.researchgate.net/publication/320784856 See discussions, stats, and author profiles for this publication at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/325771008 Servant leadership, commitment, and participatory behaviors in Korean Catholic church ArticleinJournal of Management Spirituality & Religion · June 2018 DOI: 10.1080/14766086.2018.1479654 CITATIONS 11 READS 2,138 4 authors, including: Some of the authors of this publication are also working on these related projects: Examining the Intersections of CSR and HR View project Antecedents and outcome of Servant Leadership, and the moderation effect of power distance View project Baek-Kyoo Joo Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania 44 PUBLICATIONS2,891 CITATIONS SEE PROFILE Sang-won Byun Towson University 5 PUBLICATIONS61 CITATIONS SEE PROFILE Soebin Jang Augsburg University 12 PUBLICATIONS123 CITATIONS SEE PROFILE All content following this page was uploaded by Soebin Jang on 15 June 2018. 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participatory behaviors in Korean Catholic church Baek-Kyoo (Brian) Joo, Sangwon Byun, Soebin Jang & Insuk Lee To cite this article: Baek-Kyoo (Brian) Joo, Sangwon Byun, Soebin Jang & Insuk Lee (2018): Servant leadership, commitment, and participatory behaviors in Korean Catholic church, Journal of Management, Spirituality & Religion, DOI: 10.1080/14766086.2018.1479654 To link to this article:https://doi.org/10.1080/14766086.2018.1479654 Published online: 14 Jun 2018. Submit your article to this journal View related articles View Crossmark data http://www.tandfonline.com/action/journalInformation?journalCode=rmsr20 http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rmsr20 http://www.tandfonline.com/action/showCitFormats?doi=10.1080/14766086.2018.1479654 https://doi.org/10.1080/14766086.2018.1479654 http://www.tandfonline.com/action/authorSubmission?journalCode=rmsr20&show=instructions http://www.tandfonline.com/action/authorSubmission?journalCode=rmsr20&show=instructions http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/mlt/10.1080/14766086.2018.1479654 http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/mlt/10.1080/14766086.2018.1479654 http://crossmark.crossref.org/dialog/?doi=10.1080/14766086.2018.1479654&domain=pdf&date_stamp=2018-06-14 http://crossmark.crossref.org/dialog/?doi=10.1080/14766086.2018.1479654&domain=pdf&date_stamp=2018-06-14 Servant leadership, commitment, and participatory behaviors in Korean Catholic church Baek-Kyoo (Brian) Jooa, Sangwon Byunb, Soebin Jang b and Insuk Leec aSchool of Business, Georgia Southwestern State University, Americus, GA, USA; bOrganizational Leadership, Policy, and Development (OLPD), University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA; cDepartment of Business Administration, Sogang University, Seoul, Korea ABSTRACT This study aimed to investigate the effects of servant leadership on leader commitment and organizational commitment, and mem- bers’ participatory behaviors in church service and events, based on 1232 members in 28 Catholic churches in South Korea. We found that those who perceived a high level of servant leadership from their priest(s) tended to commit more to the priest (i.e., leader) and to the church (i.e., organization). Members attended in weekday worships in addition to Sunday Mass more often, and participated in church activities and services, when highly com- mitted to the church. Based on structural equation modeling, we found a linear relationship from servant leadership to leader com- mitment, to organizational commitment, and eventually to mem- bers’ participatory behaviors. A potential contribution lies in that this study confirmed the mediating roles of leader commitment and organizational commitment on the relationship between ser- vant leadership and participatory behaviors in the context of Korean Catholic church. Abbreviation: SL: servant leadership; LC: leader commitment; OC: organizational commitment; PB: participatory behaviors ARTICLE HISTORY Received 4 February 2017 Accepted 13 May 2018 KEYWORDS Servant leadership; spiritual leadership; organizational commitment; leader commitment; Catholic church; South Korea Introduction Leadership as a topic has generated a wealth of research over the past several decades (Bass 1985; Day et al. 2014). Effective leadership is imperative to achieving long-term organizational success; and more importantly, leaders are central to fostering a healthy work environment and providing support for the continuous development of organizational members (Liden, Wayne, and Sparrowe 2000; Lowe and Gardner 2001). As a branch of leadership research, increased attention has been given to spiritual qualities of leadership (Fairholm 1996; Mitroff and Denton 1999), which emphasize personal and workplace virtues, such as ethics, caring, humility, and service to others (Greenleaf 1977; Spears 1995). Spiritual leadership is viewed as the conscious incorporation of work and personal life, in such a way that leaders perceive each employee as a whole person (Fry 2003), and is seen to contribute to CONTACT Soebin Jang jangx242@umn.edu Present affiliation for Baek-Kyoo (Brian) Joo is Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania, PA, USA JOURNAL OF MANAGEMENT, SPIRITUALITY & RELIGION https://doi.org/10.1080/14766086.2018.1479654 © 2018 Association of Management, Spirituality & Religion http://orcid.org/0000-0002-9480-4629 http://www.tandfonline.com http://crossmark.crossref.org/dialog/?doi=10.1080/14766086.2018.1479654&domain=pdf employee and organizational effectiveness (Liden et al. 2014). In this regard, research on spiritual leadership and workplace spirituality have seen increased scholarly interests and publications, among numerous leading journals in leadership, psychology and management studies (e.g., Cowan 2005; Dehler and Neal 2000; Ehrhart 2004; Fry 2003; Sanders, Hopkins, and Geroy 2005; Van Dierendonck 2011). Despite increased scholarly attention on spiritual leadership, studies examining such leadership behaviors in a religious context are scant. Religion can bring value and substance to the understanding of spiritual leadership and workplace spirituality (Houghton, Neck, and Krishnakumar 2016). In this vein, we believe that Catholic church can provide a unique context to investigate the effects of servant leadership behaviors, because religious leaders exercise normative influence rather than economic or remunerative power (Andersen 2004). Christian priests are believed to authentically serve their parishioners, while transforming their own lives in accordance to the teachings of Christ (Catholic Answers 2016). These spiritual characteristics of Catholic priests may also have a considerable influence on their parishioners’ behaviors. Among leadership theories which emphasize spiritual aspects, servant leadership theory is believed to be more relevant to Catholic priests. Servant leadership explicitly focuses on spiritual values and serving others (Greenleaf 1977; Mitroff and Denton 1999; Reave 2005), by leading by example, fostering self-awareness, and promoting behaviors that serve the greater good of the organization and broader communities (Beazley and Gemmill 2006; Fairholm and Gronan 2015; Spears 1995). According to Mulreany (2010), the servant leader model is one of the most prevailing and self-understanding models of priests, which acknowl- edges the priest as a leader who works closely with church members. In this regard, examining the roles of servant leadership of Catholic church priests may provide important implications for research in the intersections of spirituality, leadership, and workplace outcomes. An important work attitude closely related to spirituality is commitment (Fry 2003; Krishnakumar and Neck 2002), and previous studies have found support for the relationship between different aspects of workplace spirituality and commitment (e.g., Pawar 2009; Rego and Pina e Cunha 2008). Reichers (1985) proposed that a multiple commitments approach may provide more precise and meaningful findings than a mere focus on global conceptions of organizational commitment. Organizational commitment researchers have also acknowl- edged the multi-focal characteristics of the construct, for example, adopting multiple inter- personal foci (e.g., coworkers, supervisors, work teams, top management, and customers) of commitment (Becker 2016), and distinguishing between leader commitment and organiza- tional commitment (Becker et al. 1996; Meyer, Morin, and Vandenberghe 2015). Further, different forms of leadership, in this case servant leadership, may elicit different leader foci (Stone,Russell, and Patterson 2004) and distinct mechanisms through which leaders influence follower outcomes (Liden et al. 2014). We extend this line of research, by taking a multiple commitments view and investigating the relationship among servant leadership, two types of commitment, and members’ behavioral outcomes in a Catholic church context. The purpose of this study is to explore the distinct role of servant leadership in the South Korean Catholic church context, and therefore to extend the applicability of spiritual leadership to different organizational contexts. Specifically, we examined the perceived effects of Catholic priests’ servant leadership on several attitudinal and behavioral outcomes of the followers, including commitment to leader, organizational commitment, and two participatory behaviors. This study reflects the distinctive 2 B-K. (B.) JOO ET AL. context of South Korea, and unique characteristics of South Korean Catholic churches (Jeon et al. 2013). South Korea is known to be highly influenced by Confucianism, and emphasizes values such as harmony, trust, and obedience (Dorfman et al. 1997). The national culture of South Korea has been characterized as being collectivistic and high in power distance, compared to Western cultures (Hofstede 1984). Further, South Korea’s contemporary spiritual identity has been characterized as an eclectic mixture of traditional religions (i.e., Buddhism and Confucianism) and Christianity (Hunsaker 2014). One of the unique characteristics of the organizational structure of the Korean Catholic parish is that priests periodically move from one parish to another (Catholic Answers 2016), which in turn may lead parishioners to develop their commitment to the leader (i.e., priest) and the organization (i.e., church), in a different and independent manner. Literature review Servant leadership Servant leadership was first coined by Greenleaf (1970), inspired by Herman Hesse’s novel The Journey to the East; since then, the notion gained wide recognition in the contemporary leadership literature. Greenleaf (1977) believed that servant leadership was a way of life and a lifelong journey, and referred to it as “the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. . .tomakesurethatotherpeople’s highestpriorityneedsarebeing served(27).This entails a genuine concern to serve followers (Greenleaf 1977), in which leaders are committed to promoting development and growth, creating a healthy organization, and producing positive impact in the broader society (Graham 1991; Spears 1995). Following Greenleaf, numerous efforts have been made to conceptualize and model servant leadership. An early contribution was made by Spears (1995) and Laub (1999), and these authors identified several characteristics of servant leadership. Spears (1995), drawing from Greenleaf’s writings, distinguished 10 characteristics regarded as funda- mental to a servant leader. These include listening, empathy, healing, awareness, persuasion, philosophy, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, commitment to the growth of people, and building community. Laub (1999) viewed the practice of servant leadership as “places the good of those led over the self-interest of the leader” (81). Based on an extensive literature review and a Delphi study, Laub determined six representative clusters of servant leadership – values people, develops people, builds community, displays authenticity, provides leadership, and shares leadership. Further, Russell and Gregory Stone (2002) proposed nine functional character- istics of servant leadership, including vision, honesty, integrity, trust, service, mod- eling, pioneering, appreciation of others, and empowerment. The authors also identified 11 supplementary attributes that support the nine characteristics. More recently, Van Dierendonck (2011) reviewed the extant research on servant leader- ship, and developed a conceptual model that identified six characteristics, including empowering and developing people, humility, authenticity, interpersonal acceptance, providing direction, and stewardship. As noted by these authors and others, servant leadership starts from an explicit focus on serving followers (Greenleaf 1977; Stone, Russell, and Patterson 2004), and reflects altruistic, virtuous, and caring values that JOURNAL OF MANAGEMENT, SPIRITUALITY & RELIGION 3 promote participatory decision-making and follower development (Hunter et al. 2013; Russell and Gregory Stone 2002; Spears 1995). Numerous variations of servant leadership models and measurement tools have been introduced (Ehrhart 2004; Liden et al. 2008; Parris and Peachey 2013), and the extant literature points to six fundamental dimensions pertinent to the notion and practice of servant leadership (Sendjaya, Sarros, and Santora 2008; Van Dierendonck 2011). These reflect earlier conceptualizations of servant leadership provided by Laub (1999), and include develops people, shares leadership, displays authenticity, values people, provides leadership, and builds community. In the following, we briefly outline the six dimen- sions, and synthesize previous work that supports these characteristics. Develops people A leader’s role in developing employees focuses on fostering personal and collective development (Bass 1985; Conger and Kanungo 1988), through the respect and acknowl- edgement of each individual’s ability and learning potential (Greenleaf 1977; Spears 1995). In this regard, servant leaders are viewed to provide support and mentoring for career growth and development as a central dimension (Liden et al. 2008), and support organizational members with opportunities for growth, learning environment, and motivation to excel (Laub 1999; Sendjaya, Sarros, and Santora 2008). Shares leadership Sharing leadership points to the leader’s role in empowering and sharing of power and responsibilities, as an essential part of leadership practice (Kouzes and Posner 1993; Wilkes 1996). Laub (1999) characterized this aspect in terms of sharing power, using persuasion over coercion, being humble, and leading by personal influence. Van Dierendonck (2011) emphasized the notion of humility, and argued that “a leader puts the interest of others first, facilitates their performance, and provides them with essential support” (1233). In this regard, servant leaders are seen to influence organiza- tional members, by empowering and role-modeling behaviors to promote positive change (Dennis and Bocarnea 2005; Sendjaya, Sarros, and Santora 2008). Displays authenticity Authenticity refers to being true to one’s self and acting in a consistent manner with one’s commitments and beliefs (Avolio and Gardner 2005; Kouzes and Posner 1993). For servant leaders, display of authenticity underlines the importance of demonstrating high integrity and honesty (Russell and Gregory Stone 2002), and being nonjudgmental, open to criticism, and accountable to others (Laub 1999). Closely related notions are spiritual values and calling, through which servant leaders promote work meaningful- ness and a sense of purpose in the lives of others (Barbuto and Wheeler 2006; Fry 2003; Sendjaya, Sarros, and Santora 2008). Values people Valuing people concerns with the extent to which organizational leaders listen, respect, and believe in others (Greenleaf 1977; Spears 1995; Wilkes 1996), and encompasses the concepts of interpersonal acceptance and emotional healing (Barbuto and Wheeler 2006; Van Dierendonck 2011). Laub (1999) described these characteristics in terms of 4 B-K. (B.) JOO ET AL. respecting and trusting others, showing love and compassion, and being receptive listeners. Sendjaya, Sarros, and Santora (2008) posited that this voluntary act focuses on the “being a servant” rather than the “doing service” aspect of servant leadership (406). Barbuto and Wheeler (2006) suggested that emotional healing was a distinct aspect of servant leadership, and that servant leaders need to “recognize when and how to foster the healing process” (306). Provides leadership Providing a sense of direction and vision for organizational members is essential for effective leadership (De Pree 1997; Greenleaf 1977; Kouzes and Posner 1993; Spears 1995). In this respect, Greenleaf (1977) referred to the notion of foresight and discussed the importance of servant leaders’ ability to foresee the unforeseeable (22). Laub (1999) suggested several aspects – envisioning the future, initiating action, and clarifying goals – as vital in providing direction and leadership. Establishing a clear vision and direction has also been underscored by the importance of promoting shared values (Russell and Gregory Stone 2002), and institutionalizing such values within the organizational culture (Schein 1983). Builds community Building community entails fostering collaboration, valuing diversity, and promoting stewardship (De Pree 1997; Laub 1999; Russell and Gregory Stone 2002; Spears 1995). Laub (1999) suggested building community as one of the key characteristics of servant leadership, and emphasized aspects such as enhancing relationships, fostering team- work, and valuing different viewpoints. Barbuto and Wheeler (2006) suggested the role of servant leaders as meeting the needs of society and embedding a sense of community spirit (309). In a similar vein, Van Dierendonck (2011) pointed to stewardship through which “leaders can stimulate others to act in the common interest. . .closely related to social responsibility, loyalty, and team work” (1234). Leader commitment Leader commitment is a type of employee commitment, and refers to the psychological attachment of employees to the leader (Becker et al. 1996). According to Becker et al. (1996), employee commitment reflects multiple foci – there are multiple individuals and groups to whom an employee can be attached. Accordingly, research indicates that employees can develop commitment to different individuals and groups, such as super- visors (e.g., Clugston, Howell, and Dorfman 2000), work groups (e.g., Snape, Chan, and Redman 2006), and customers (e.g., Siders, George, and Dharwadkar 2001). Panaccio and Vandenberghe (2011) showed that commitment to supervisor had a larger influ- ence on employees’ performance among others, and this was mainly due to the responsibility and authority given to supervisors, in regard to employee performance evaluations and other important decisions such as pay and promotion. Hence, distin- guishing among individual foci, especially leader commitment from other individuals and the organization, can be helpful in understanding the effects of employee commit- ment on workplace outcomes (Becker et al. 1996). JOURNAL OF MANAGEMENT, SPIRITUALITY & RELIGION 5 Several studies have explored antecedents of employees’ commitment to leader. Among many factors likely to contribute to the development of leader commitment, positive support of supervisor was reported as one of the most important predictors of employees’ affective commitment to supervisors (Meyer, Morin, and Vandenberghe 2015). Becker and Billings (1993) examined employee commitment to four different targets, including the organization, top management, supervisor, and work group. The study results indicated that employees who were more committed to their supervisor and work group, in turn, were more engaged in prosocial behaviors. Becker et al. (1996) differentiated commitment to supervisor from commitment to the organization, and found that commitment to supervisor was significantly and positively related to per- formance. Further, in a longitudinal study, Stinglhamber and Vandenberghe (2003) also found that perceived supervisor support was positively associated with affective com- mitment to supervisor, and the effect of supervisor support on turnover was fully mediated by commitment to supervisor. Organizational commitment Organizational commitment is widely recognized as an important construct in under- standing employee work outcomes (Allen and Meyer 1990; Mowday, Steers, and Porter 1979), defined as “the relative strength of an individual’s identification with and involvement in a particular organization” (Mowday, Porter, and Steers 1982, 27). This entails that employees’ commitment to an organization involves a process, through which the goals of an individual and an organization gradually integrate and become congruent (Hall, Schneider, and Nygren 1970). Mowday, Porter, and Steers (1982) proposed three important characteristics: (1) a strong belief in and acceptance of the organization’s goals and values; (2) a willingness to exert considerable effort on behalf of the organization; and (3) a strong desire to maintain membership in the organization. Meyer and Allen (1991) identified the three dimensions of organizational commitment as affective, continuance, and normative commitment. Affective commitment denotes an employee’s positive emotional attachment to and identification with an organization. Continuance commitment refers to an employee’s will and need to stay with an organization, and normative commitment is the moral obligation to stay with the organization (Meyer and Allen 1991). Employee’s organiza- tional commitment therefore implies an “active relationship” between an individual and an organization, and can be inferred by both an individual’s beliefs and feelings toward an organization and through one’s actions (Mowday, Steers, and Porter 1979). As a multifaceted construct (Meyer and Allen 1991; O’Reilly and Chatman 1986), previous research has found a variety of individual and organizational factors contri- buting to increased organizational commitment. These include individual characteris- tics, job roles and experience, relationship among leaders and employees/groups, and the organizational context (Allen and Meyer 1990; Eby et al. 1999). Research suggests, for example, that employees’ perception of support is a strong predictor of increased organizational commitment (e.g., Mottaz 1988). Joo (2010) reported that organizational learning culture and leader-member exchange quality were strong predictors for knowl- edge workers in Korea. Personal importance and competence are also regard as important antecedents, as these are closely related to employees’ perceptions of the 6 B-K. (B.) JOO ET AL. extent to which they are able to contribute to the organization (Meyer and Allen 1991). Others have found that organizational commitment was negatively related to with- drawal behaviors, such as absenteeism, turnover intentions, and intents to search for an alternative job (e.g., Bartlett 2001; Mathieu and Zajac 1990). Participatory behaviors in church Participation in Mass and voluntary services are core to the religious beliefs of Catholics (Cieslak 1984). According to the New Testament of the Bible, the most important commandment is the love for God and the neighbor. Mass participation, as a repre- sentative behavior of loving God, lies at the center of the whole Christian life (U.S. Catholic Conference, Inc 2003). Participation in voluntary services, which fulfills the commandment of loving neighbors, is also regarded as a Christian religious imperative (Ozorak 2003). The Catholic Mass is defined as “a community of believers gathering to hear the word of God and participating in the celebration of the Eucharis” (Wade 2013, 1138). It is known, for example, that church attendance is related to various demographic variables, such as age, gender, years of education, and marital status (Taylor, Chatters, and Brown 2014). According to Cieslak (1984), the rate of Mass attendance is positively correlated with the quality and quantity of programs in a parish, of which respond to their parishioners’ needs. Hong (2001) demonstrated that leadership style of pastors can impact the rate of church attendance. According to the cannon law of the Catholic Church, all Catholics have an obligation to participate in Mass every Sunday, while participation in weekday Mass and worship is not (USCCB 2016). Therefore, the participation rate in weekday worship and Mass, adopted in this study, can be con- sidered as a more representative measure of the religiosity of Catholic church members. Participation in church activities and services is also regarded as an important religious behavior of church members. Several studies demonstrated a positive relation- ship between religious involvement and voluntary services (e.g., Chaves 2011). For example, Ozorak (2003) found that Christians participate in voluntary services in order to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and visit the sick, according to the teaching of the Bible. The study found that intentions to repeat voluntary services were positively associated with intrinsic motivation, which in turn increased members’ personal rela- tionship with and beliefs toward God. Polson (2016) also reported that individuals who attend congregations, in which there is a strong emphasis on community care, are more likely than others to be involved in civic activities. These participatory behaviors in Church have unique characteristics, as compared to other helping behaviors such as organizational citizenship behavior (OCB), prosocial behavior, and contextual performance. Helping behaviors are known for playing a significant role in the successful functioning of organizations (Hunsaker 2016; LePine, Erez, and Johnson 2002; Vondey 2010); however, they also share a connotation of an ancillary work behavior rather than a main work task – such behaviors are often likened to the lubrication of the social machinery of the organization (Smith, Organ, and Near 1983). This entails that, for example, managers may encourage their employees’ OCB not because it is a good or right thing to do, but because it can contribute to the organization’s performance and competitiveness. In this view, it is difficult to separate JOURNAL OF MANAGEMENT, SPIRITUALITY & RELIGION 7 out managers’ pure motivations or intentions in promoting OCB, from instrumental or self-interest-driven motivations. Further, since helping behaviors such as OCB reflect altruistic characteristics and go beyond formal role requirements (Smith, Organ, and Near 1983), managers may be seen to exploit employees’ altruistic motivations, when they consider such behaviors as a mere means to meet organizational goals. In contrast, participatory behaviors exhibited in Church (i.e., participation in week- day worship and voluntary services) are not considered obligatory; yet, they are central to Catholic Church membership, rather than ancillary (Catholic Culture.org 2016). Participating in Church services are regarded as a fundamental and ultimate purpose of the Catholic Church (Ozorak 2003), and Catholic priests are seen to promote members’ participation absent of extrinsic motivations or needs (Hong 2001). Such distinct characteristics and nature of participatory behaviors differ from helping beha- viors, and therefore allow us to investigate the role of servant leadership as enacted by Catholic Church priests and its effect on members’ participatory behaviors. Research model and hypotheses In the following, we present our research model and develop eight hypotheses based on previous research. Figure 1 illustrates the hypothesized model in this study. Servant leadership and leader commitment The definition and key characteristics of servant leaders imply the relationship between servant leadership and leader commitment (Greenleaf 1970). Central to the notion of servant leadership is serving and supporting its followers (Spears 1995; Wong and Figure 1. Hypothesized model 8 B-K. (B.) JOO ET AL. Davey 2007), and this support provided by leaders is argued to be critical in increasing followers’ leader commitment (Becker et al. 1996; Meyer, Morin, and Vandenberghe 2015). Stinglhamber and Vandenberghe (2003) reported, in a longitudinal study, that employees’ perceived supervisor support led to increased commitment to supervisors. Perceived supervisor support further fully mediated the relationship between job con- ditions and supervisor commitment. Liden et al. (2014) contended that followers may be affectively and normatively committed to the servant leader, as servant leaders provide followers with emotional healing and positive work experiences in support of their growth and success. Hypothesis 1: Servant leadership will be positively related to leader commitment. Servant leadership and organizational commitment Prior studies have demonstrated the influence of servant leadership on important followers’ attitudes and behaviors, with particular interest in organizational commit- ment (e.g., Liden et al. 2008; Schneider and George 2011). Schneider and George (2011) found that the president’s servant leadership behaviors led to club members’ organiza- tional commitment, satisfaction, and intentions to stay. In a study of hospital employ- ees, Sanders, Hopkins, and Geroy (2005) showed that servant leadership had a direct causal relationship with spirituality and organizational commitment. Further, Liden et al. (2008) also reported that servant leadership was significantly and positively related to community citizenship behaviors, in-role performance, and organizational commit- ment. As evidenced from these studies, it is likely that followers’ perceptions of servant leadership will lead to higher organizational commitment. Hypothesis 2: Servant leadership will be positively related to organizational commitment. Leader commitment and organizational commitment Several studies demonstrated the relationship between leader commitment and organi- zational commitment. For example, Panaccio and Vandenberghe (2011) found a sig- nificant and positive relationship between commitment to supervisor and organizational commitment. The authors further explained that since local constitu- encies including leaders are part of the larger organization, employees’ commitment to their leader can shape overall organizational commitment (Panaccio and Vandenberghe 2011). Liden et al. (2014) also argued that followers who experience favorable treatment from their leader may develop a more positive view of the organization, resulting in increased organizational commitment. Hypothesis 3: Leader commitment will be positively related to organizational commitment. Leader commitment and participatory behaviors A few studies support the relationship between leader commitments on employees’ behavioral outcomes. For example, Becker et al. (1996) found that overall commitment to supervisor was positively correlated with the performance of employees. The study implied that supervisors actively create and promote performance norms, and JOURNAL OF MANAGEMENT, SPIRITUALITY & RELIGION 9 employees who develop strong commitment to their supervisors perform accordingly to the performance norms. Stinglhamber and Vandenberghe (2003) also found that affective commitment to the supervisor fully mediated the effect of perceived supervisor support on turnover. In the Church context, participatory behaviors of parishioners can be regarded as an important indication of a Catholic Church’s performance, and it can be expected that parishioners who develop stronger commitment to their priest would participate in weekday Mass and voluntary activities more frequently. Hypothesis 4: Leader commitment will be positively related to members’ participation behaviors. Organizational commitment and participatory behaviors Prior research has demonstrated the link between organizational commitment and various employee outcomes. Mathieu and Zajac (1990) conducted 48 meta-analyses and identified several important outcomes of organizational commitment, such as job performance, attendance, intention to leave, and turnover. Meyer et al. (2002) also found similar results that included turnover, absenteeism, job performance, OCB, stress, and family-conflict. More recently, Panaccio and Vandenberghe (2011) found a significant negative relationship between organizational commitment and employees’ turnover intentions. These studies indicate that employees’ organizational commitment may influence (desirable) employee work outcomes. Although no study has examined its effect in a religious organization, we proposed a direct link between organizational commitment and members’ participatory behaviors. Hypothesis 5: Organizational commitment will be positively related to members’ participa- tion behaviors. Mediation hypotheses In addition to the proposed direct relationships, we tested several mediation hypotheses to further our understanding of the utility of servant leadership and causal relationships among the constructs in this study. First, servant leadership is expected to have an indirect relationship with organizational commitment, through the mediating role of leader commitment. Panaccio and Vandenberghe’s (2011) study demonstrated the mediating role of supervisor commitment in the relationship between job conditions and organizational commitment. Their findings showed that supervisors exhibited great influence on employees’ attitudes toward themselves and the organization. Therefore, while servant leadership may directly induce organizational commitment, we expect that followers may first develop commitment to their leader (i.e., priest), and in turn commit to the organization (i.e., church). Hypothesis 6: The indirect effect of servant leadership on organizational commitment will be partially mediated by leader commitment. Second, we expected that organizational commitment will mediate the effects of leader commitment on members’ participation behaviors. Earlier, we theorized that leader commitment will induce followers’ organizational commitment (Liden et al. 2014), and positively influence members’ participation behaviors (Becker et al. 1996). 10 B-K. (B.) JOO ET AL. Further, it was proposed that when followers develop commitment to the organization, they would likely participate in desirable behaviors in the workplace (Meyer et al. 2002). Extending these arguments, we expect that organizational commitment would fully mediate the link between leader commitment and members’ participation behaviors. In other words, organizational commitment will diminish the direct effect of leader commitment on members’ participation behaviors. Hypothesis 7: The indirect effect of leader commitment on members’ participation beha- viors will be fully mediated by organizational commitment. Last, by combining hypotheses 6 and 7, we also examined the mediating role of leader commitment and organizational commitment, in the relationship between ser- vant leadership and members’ participation behaviors. Based on the two hypotheses above, it would be reasonable to expect a significant linear causal link from servant leadership to leader commitment, to organizational commitment, and finally to mem- bers’ participation behaviors. Hypothesis 8: The indirect effect of servant leadership on members’ participation behaviors will be fully mediated by leader commitment and organizational commitment. Method Sample and procedures Parishioners of a South Korean Catholic church, registered among 28 churches in the Seoul parish, were recruited to participate in the study. Participants were among parishioners who were at the time, in charge of a subgroup in their respective churches. Since the participants were seen to closely work with their priests, they were able to respond to the intended survey questions, regarding their priest’s leadership style and their own behaviors toward the priests and churches. A total of 1709 parishioners completed the survey, among 2770 who were initially invited to participate in the study. Responses with missing values or severe central tendency were eliminated, which resulted in a total of 1232 responses (response rate of 45%). The low response rate, to our understanding, reflects the religious nature of church membership, in that participants may have felt undesirable to evaluate their priests. Demographic variables such as gender, age, length of baptism, length of relationship with the current priest were also included. Most respondents were female (79.6%) in their fifties (49.3%) and in charge of subparish groups (84.5%). Regarding the length of baptism and relationship with the current priest, 52.6% of respondents were baptized more than 20 years ago, and 57.6% have worked with their current priest for less than 3 years. Measures As the instruments have been developed and widely used in the western context, all questionnaires were translated using translation-back-translation procedures for use in South Korean Catholic churches. All constructs were measured using a 5-point Likert scale. See Table 2 for list of items and factor loadings. JOURNAL OF MANAGEMENT, SPIRITUALITY & RELIGION 11 Servant leadership To measure perceptions of servant leadership, we followed Laub’s (1999) definition and used nine items that closely represented each of the six dimensions of servant leader- ship – develops people (SL7), shares leadership (SL2 & SL3), displays authenticity (SL4 & SL6), values people (SL 1), provides leadership (SL 9), and builds community (SL5 & SL8). Laub’s (1999) definition is among the most cited in the literature (Parris and Peachey 2013), and extant research generally supports these six dimensions (e.g., Sendjaya, Sarros, and Santora 2008; Van Dierendonck 2011). Further, several studies have employed these dimensions to assess perceptions of servant leadership in different organizational contexts (e.g., Joseph and Winston 2005; Sanders, Hopkins, and Geroy 2005). In this study, the reliability of the nine items was 0.89, and all items were modified to best fit to the Korean Catholic church context. Sample items include: “Our priest provides support and resources needed to help followers meet their goals,” “Our priest is open to receiving criticism and challenge from followers,” and “Our priest uses persuasion to influence followers instead of coercion.” Leader commitment Four items from the commitment to supervisor inventory developed by Becker et al. (1996) was used to measure leader commitment. The original items were modified to fit the church context. The reliability of four items was 0.73 in this study. Sample items include: “When someone criticizes my priest, it feels like a personal insult,” and “When someone praises my priest, it feels like a personal compliment.” Organizational commitment Followers’ commitment to the organization was measured using a shortened version of Mowday, Steers, and Porter (1979) organizational commitment questionnaire (OCQ). The OCQ is originally comprised of 15 items, and has been widely used to examine organiza- tional commitment in various contexts (e.g., Schneider and George 2011). Four items were chosen and modified from the OCQ that best represent the Korean church context. The reliability of the four items was 0.83. Sample items include: “I feel ‘emotionally attached’ to this church,” and “I feel a strong sense of belonging to my church.” Participatory behaviors Participatory behaviors of parishioners were measured in two aspects: frequency of participation in weekday worship and frequency of participation in church activities and services. The two items are: “How often do you participate in weekday worship?” and “How often do you participate in service of inside of the church?” Although the internal reliability was relatively low (0.55), we believe that as mentioned before, these two items well represent parishioners’ participatory behaviors in church, in terms of love for God and neighbors (Ozorak 2003). Results The results of the study are reported in three parts. First, the measurement model is presented. Second, descriptive statistics are reported. Third, the results of structural equation modeling (SEM) are presented. 12 B-K. (B.) JOO ET AL. Measurement model assessment We estimated the validity of the four measures (i.e., servant leadership, leader commit- ment, organizational commitment, and participatory behaviors) using confirmatory factor analysis (CFA). CFA can estimate the quality of the factor structure and desig- nated factor loadings, by statistically testing the fit between the measurement model and the collected data (Kline 2005). The measurement model test was based on a covariance matrix and used maximum likelihood estimation as implemented in LISREL 8.8. The goodness-of-fit indices employed in this analysis included Chi-square, root mean square error of approximation (RMSEA), non-normed fit index (NNFI), comparative fit index (CFI), and standardized root mean square error (SRMR). In all the goodness-of-fit indices, the measurement model indicated an excellent fit to the data (see Table 1). As indicated in Table 2, all factor loadings except for PB1 were over .40. Descriptive statistics, correlations, and reliabilities Table 3 shows the correlations among the constructs, and the internal reliabilities of the scales. Except for the relationship between servant leadership and participatory beha- viors, all correlations indicated a significant relationship (p < .05). Among others, the relationship between servant leadership and leader commitment was the highest (r = .50). All measures indicated adequate levels of reliability (r = .73 to .88). Based on the correlational analysis, all the hypotheses were supported. With regard to the demographic variables, female members, those who were baptized long ago, and those who had a longer relationship with the current priest tended to participate in weekday worships and church activities and services. Structural model assessment The SEM method was used to analyze the data and address the results of the hypothesis testing. The adequacy of the structural model was estimated by comparing the good- ness-of-fit to the hypothesized model. The hypotheses were then tested by the path coefficients and the total effect sizes of the constructs in the final model. As illustrated in Figure 1, H1, H3, and H5 were supported showing statistically significant path coefficients (t > 1.96, p < .05), whereas H2 and H4 turned out to be nonsignificant. The hypothesized model indicated a very good fit in all indices, χ2 [147] = 597.56; p = .00; RMSEA = .048; NNFI = .98; CFI = .98; SRMR = .034. In terms of squared multiple correlations (SMC), servant leadership accounted for 37% of the variance in leader commitment. Servant leadership and leader commitment explained 35% of the variance in organizational commitment. Lastly, 21% of the variance in participatory behaviors were explained by the three predictors. Table 1. Measurement model assessment by CFA. χ2 df χ2/df RMSEA NFI CFI SRMR 596.86*** 146 4.09 .049 .98 .98 .034 Note: n = 1313 (excluding missing data); ***p < .001. JOURNAL OF MANAGEMENT, SPIRITUALITY & RELIGION 13 In addition, an alternative model was tested, excluding the nonsignificant paths (H2 and H4) (see Figure 2). This alternative model exhibited an equivalent fit to the data, χ2 [149] = 602.99; p = .00; RMSEA = .048; NNFI = .98; CFI = .98; SRMR = .034. In terms of SMC, 39%, 36%, and 21% of the variances in leader commitment, organizational commit- ment, and participatory behaviors were explained, respectively. We accepted the alternative model as the final model, because it was more parsimonious excluding nonsignificant Table 2. Items and factor loadings. Items Servant leadership Leader com- mitment Organizational commitment Participatory behaviors SL1 Our priest is open to learning from followers in the church. 0.69 SL2 Our priest works alongside followers when making important decisions. 0.68 SL3 Our priest uses persuasion to influence followers instead of coercion. 0.72 SL4 Our priest leads by example by modeling appropriate behaviors. 0.67 SL5 Our priest facilitates building community and team work. 0.66 SL6 Our priest is open to receiving criticism and challenge from followers. 0.74 SL7 Our priest provides support and resources needed to help followers meet their goals. 0.67 SL8 Our priest promotes open communication and sharing of information. 0.72 SL9 Our priest communicates a clear vision for the future of the church. 0.59 LC1 When someone criticizes our priest, it feels like a personal insult. 0.61 LC2 When our priest feels satisfied with church activities, I also feel good and satisfied. 0.75 LC3 When someone praises our priest, it feels like a personal compliment. 0.69 LC4 My current role in the church made my personal values closely reflect that of the priest’s. 0.53 OC1 I feel “emotionally attached” to this church. 0.79 OC2 I really feel as if this church’s problems are my own. 0.61 OC3 I feel a strong sense of belonging to my church. 0.85 OC4 This church has a great deal of personal meaning for me. 0.71 PB1 How often do you participate in weekday worship? 0.37 PB2 How often do you participate in service of inside of the church? 0.41 Note: SL: servant leadership; LC: leader commitment; OC: organizational commitment; PB: participatory behaviors. Table 3. Descriptive statistics, correlations, and reliabilities. Mean SD 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 (1) Servant leadership 3.91 .67 (.89) (2) Leader commitment 3.75 .66 .50** (.73) (3) Organizational commitment 3.92 .64 .34** .46** (.83) (4) Participatory behaviors 1.98 .87 −.01 .07** .18** (.55) (5) Gender 0.79 .41 −.01 .01 −.07** −.07** – (6) Age 2.81 .75 −.02 .09** .00 .01 −.09** – (7) Length of baptism 23.93 14.68 −.07** .03 .02 .06* .02 .22** – (8) Length of relationship with a current priest 2.44 1.10 −.09** .01 .09** .19** −.06* .11** .06* Note: n = 1313; * p < .05; ** p < .01; internal reliabilities in the parentheses. 14 B-K. (B.) JOO ET AL. parameters while providing an equivalent fit to the data. Thus, it indicated a full mediation model from servant leadership to leader commitment, to organizational commitment, and eventually to participatory behaviors of the church members. Bootstrap analyses To examine the mediation effects (H6, H7, and H8) more rigorously, we conducted three Bootstrap analyses, using SPSS (Hayes, Preacher, and Myers 2011; Preacher and Hayes 2008). By creating 5000 bootstrap samples, we calculated the percentage of estimates that were at or below zero in the distribution and compared this with an alpha of .05. As shown in Table 4, all the mediation hypotheses were supported. To illustrate, the first bootstrap analysis revealed a significant indirect effect of servant leadership on organiza- tional commitment, through leader commitment. Across the bootstrap samples, the values for the mediated effect ranged from .147 to .213, indicating a significant indirect path because zero was not included in the 95% confidence interval. As for the effect ratio, the threshold of a full/partial mediation is .80 (Jose 2008). Since the effect ratio was .579, we concluded that leader commitment partially mediated the relationship between servant leadership and organizational commitment. As for the second bootstrap analysis (H7), organizational commitment fully mediated the relationship between leader commitment and participatory behaviors, as the effect ratio was greater than .80. The final Bootstrap test (H8) also turned out to be significant. Leader commitment and organizational commitment fully mediated the relationship between servant leadership and participatory behaviors. Therefore, H6, H7, and H8 were supported in this study. Discussion This study aimed to examine the effects of priest’s servant leadership on church members’ commitment to leader and organization, and their participatory behaviors Figure 2. Alternative model Table 4. Path coefficients and indirect effects for mediation models. Indirect effects by bootstrap analysis Hypothesis and path Estimate Standard error 95% Confidence interval (lower, upper) Effect ratio** (a * b/c) H6 SL → LC →OC .179* .017 .147, .213 .579 H7 LC → OC →PB .114* .020 .077, .156 1.162 H8 SL →LC→ OC →PB .101* .021 .061, .144 5.365 Note: N = 1313. Bootstrap confidence intervals were constructed using 5000 resamples; *p < .05;**Effect ratio = a * b/c, where a is the effect of independent variable (IV) on mediator (M); b is the effect of M on dependent variable (DV); c is the effect of IV on DV; the threshold is .80 (a partial mediation if <.80; a full mediation if >.80) (Jose 2008).
JOURNAL OF MANAGEMENT, SPIRITUALITY & RELIGION 15
in the South Korean Catholic church context. We found that those who perceived
higher levels of servant leadership from their priest tended to commit more to the priest
(i.e., leader) and to the church (i.e., organization). Further, church members attended in
weekday worships in addition to Sunday Mass more often, and actively participated in
church activities and services, when they were highly committed to the church. Results
from SEM and Bootstrap analyses confirmed a significant and linear relationship –
from servant leadership to leader commitment, from leader commitment to organiza-
tional commitment, and eventually from organizational commitment to members’
participatory behaviors.
Theoretical contributions
Overall, our findings are consistent with previous theoretical and empirical studies, on the
relationship between servant leadership, and followers’ attitudinal and behavioral out-
comes (e.g., Liden et al. 2008; Sanders, Hopkins, and Geroy 2005; Sendjaya, Sarros, and
Santora 2008; Van Dierendonck 2011). These findings extend and contribute to the
increasing body of knowledge and research, by connecting the notion of spirituality
with organizational leadership and workplace outcomes (Dehler and Neal 2000; Fry 2003).
Several important theoretical implications can arise from our study findings. First, as
mentioned earlier, the notion of servant leadership was inspired by Herman Hesse’s
novel The Journey to the East, which is a story about a pilgrimage to the East in search
of the ultimate truth (Greenleaf 1970). Despite its potential and intuitive link, to date,
little research has examined the effect of servant leadership in religious organizations.
The only exception was the dissertation by Scuderi (2010), which targeted protestant
churches in the United States. Our study extends the applicability of servant leadership
to a wider variety of organizations, by examining servant leadership behaviors and
outcomes in the South Korean Catholic church context. More specifically, the current
study focused on distinctive characteristics of religious leaders and organizations that
may have influenced the role of servant leadership on follower outcomes. Research
suggests that Catholic priests are likely to exhibit self-awareness and serving behaviors
based on normative and spiritually intrinsic reasons (Andersen 2004). In line with this
view, our findings confirmed that servant leadership behaviors by Catholic priests
positively influenced church members’ commitment and participatory behaviors.
Another contribution lies in that this study identified the missing links between
servant leadership and church members’ behaviors, by examining the effect of servant
leadership on church members’ attitudinal and behavioral outcomes. In investigating
the influences of priest’s servant leadership behaviors on two key behavioral outcomes,
the current study explored the role of commitment – commitment to leaders as well as
church. Whereas some previous research reported a positive relationship between
servant leadership and commitment in the workplace (e.g., Liden et al. 2014), this is
the first study that found the mediating roles of leader commitment and organizational
commitment on the relationship between servant leadership and participatory beha-
viors in the context of Korean Catholic church. While priest’s behaviors of servant
leadership had no direct impact on members’ behaviors, servant leaders indirectly
influenced members’ participatory behaviors through commitment to the priest and
to the church. This finding of linear relationships among the variables can contribute to
16 B-K. (B.) JOO ET AL.
the body of knowledge for servant leadership research, and to practice not only in
religious organizations but also in other nonprofit and charitable organizations.
In line with the above, contrary to our expectations, leader commitment did not have a
direct effect on members’ participatory behaviors. It turned out that organizational
commitment had a larger effect on members’ intentions to participate in church services
and activities. While this finding is consistent with prior studies (e.g., Panaccio and
Vandenberghe 2011), some potential reasons include the size of church and periodic
turnover of the priests. According to Korean Catholic Statistics published by Catholic
Bishop’s Conference of Korea (2015), on average one priest serves 1350 members in
Korean Catholic church. That is, church members do not have much opportunity to meet
and interact with the priest personally. Also, the Catholic church requires priests to move
from one church to another after serving for about five years (Catholic Answers 2016).
Thus, further research in other religious organizations (i.e., Protestant church, Islam,
Hindu, Buddhism, etc.) is needed for these findings to be generalized.
Lastly, conducted in the South Korean Catholic church context, this study with a
relatively large data can make a unique contribution to the field of management, spiri-
tuality, and religion. On the other hand, the findings in this study may reflect cultural
influences from Korean national culture and societal norms. South Korea’s national
culture is characterized by Confucianism and values such as harmony, trust, and obedi-
ence (Hofstede 1984). In such cultures, in-group harmony and affective ties are valued
among organizational members (Joo, Yang, and McLean 2014), and these cultural values
are often seen to override values in organizational cultures (Yen and Teng 2013). For
instance, the significant role of leader commitment in the relationship between servant
leadership and organizational commitment may reflect, to some extent, the high power
distance underlying leader–follower relationships in the South Korean culture. Also, the
importance of Confucian values in Korean culture may explain why the direct relationship
between servant leadership and organizational commitment was not found. According to
Hunsaker’s (2016) recent study, Korean Confucian values, including relational harmony
such as empathy, reciprocity in human relations, and respect for elders, played an
important mediating role between spiritual leadership and OCB. Such emphasis on strong
group orientation and relationships may have led to leader commitment mediating the
relationship between servant leadership and organizational commitment. Further research
is needed to investigate more specific influences of cultural value orientations, on servant
leadership and its effects on followers’ outcomes.
Practical implications
South Korea’s contemporary spiritual identity has been characterized as an eclectic
mixture of traditional ideologies and Christianity (Hunsaker 2014). Historically,
Buddhism had flourished for more than a millennium in Korea, and this was replaced
by Confucianism which has had profound influence on all aspects of Korean society and
people over five centuries. Following industrialization, Christianity has grown and spread
rapidly in Korea between 1960s and 1980s, and a recent survey indicates that about one
third of Koreans view themselves as Christians (South Korea National Statistical Office
2015). In this regard, Christian leaders and especially Catholic church leaders in Korea are
believed to have profound influence not only on the growth of Christian communities but
JOURNAL OF MANAGEMENT, SPIRITUALITY & RELIGION 17
also on the broader Korean society, by playing important roles in the historical transitions
and struggles for civil rights and democracy (Philpott 2004).
Pastoral and church leaders need to pay more attention to the findings of this study.
For example, the worships tend to be ritualistic and long, while the sermon is relatively
short in Catholic church. The opposite is true in most Protestant churches – the
sermons are longer, and the ritual is more simplistic in a Protestant church. In addition,
most Catholic churches in Seoul, a megalopolis, is large in terms of membership
(Catholic Answers 2016). A potential problem in a large church is that it can limit
the direct interactions between the priest and church members. As such, there may not
be enough opportunities for members to interact with the priest. Without adequate
interactions, church members cannot possibly observe servant leadership behaviors of
their priests. On the contrary, a pastor in a small Protestant church who actively
interacts with the members is likely to have a greater influence on the members than
a priest in a Catholic church. Thus, it is critical for the priests or church leaders to
increase interactions with church members. More interactions will lead members to rely
more on their leaders, and servant leadership behaviors may have a stronger impact on
members’ participatory behaviors. Finally, strengthening the leadership of laymen could
be another suggestion to enhance the members’ participation in worships and church
activities and services.
The study findings will also have managerial implications for leaders in diverse
organizational contexts (e.g., governmental, corporate, nonprofit, educational, medical,
etc.). To effectively increase employees’ participation in organizations, leaders will need
to promote servant leadership behaviors and leverage the two-stage process (i.e., leader
commitment, then organizational commitment) that provided an important link,
between servant leadership and employees’ participatory behaviors. In doing so, orga-
nizational leaders will need to focus on enhancing employees’ leader commitment first,
by exercising servant leadership themselves.
Limitations and recommendations for future research
There are several limitations to this study. By relying on self-reported responses from
church members, this cross-sectional survey design leaves room for speculation with
regard to causality among the variables. Future research may use longitudinal research
designs based on multiple data points and/or hierarchical linear modeling to address
these limitations. Further, while the reliability was relatively low for participatory
behaviors, our measures were based on solid evidence of church members’ participatory
behaviors – participation in weekday worship and church event and activities, and such
behaviors are believed to well represent member outcomes in the Catholic church
context (Ozorak 2003). In addition, spiritual and/or servant leadership research may
also benefit from future qualitative inquiries. For example, what does it mean to serve
followers as a servant leader in different organizational contexts? And, what meanings
do followers attach to servant leadership or spirituality in the workplace? Future
research may address these questions, using qualitative research designs and in-depth
participant interviews.
Another limitation may be that our sample included a group of respondents with
similar demographic characteristics – Catholic church members in a Korean cultural
18 B-K. (B.) JOO ET AL.
setting. This limits the generalizability of our findings and warrants future cross-
cultural research. Future studies may compare constructs, used in this study, within
distinct cultural contexts (e.g., Western versus Asian countries), and use established
cultural models and frameworks such as Hofstede’s (1984) cultural dimensions. In
doing so, researchers should be mindful of other potential influences, such as the
interactions between national and organizational cultures (Newman and Nollen
1996; Yen and Teng 2013), and avoid simplifications or generalizations in terms of
cultural or national boundaries (Clark et al. 2016). In addition, to increase the
generalizability of the present study, more studies in various industries, such as
nonprofit or religious organizations, representing diverse demographic groups are
needed. Such research efforts may shed new light on cross-cultural servant leadership
research, and broaden our understanding of servant leadership in different national
and cultural contexts.
Disclosure statement
No potential conflict of interest was reported by the authors.
Notes on contributors
Baek-Kyoo (Brian) Joo is an associate professor of management in the school of business at
Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania. He received his Ph.D. in Human Resource
Development and an M.A. in Human Resources and Industrial Relations from the University
of Minnesota. His current research interests include positive organizational behavior, organiza-
tional creativity, leadership, coaching, and international HR/OD. He has published research
papers in such journals as Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, Journal of Leadership and
Organizational Studies, Leadership and Organization Development Journal, Human Resource
Development Quarterly, Career Development International, and Personnel Review.
Sangwon Byun is a Ph.D. candidate in human resource development in the department of
organizational leadership, policy, and development at the University of Minnesota, Twin
Cities. His current research interests include ethical leadership, spiritual leadership, mindful
practices, coaching, and leadership development and assessment.
Soebin Jang is a Ph.D. candidate in human resource development in the department of organiza-
tional leadership, policy, and development at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. His
current research interests include corporate social responsibility and business ethics, moral
leadership, organizational culture, and organizational development and change.
Insuk Lee is a professor in organizational behavior at Sogang University, South Korea. He
received his Ph.D. in organizational behavior from Cornell University and MBA from George
Washington University. His current research interests include innovation and organization
development, leadership and conflict management, strategic human resource management, and
learning organization.
ORCID
Soebin Jang http://orcid.org/0000-0002-9480-4629
JOURNAL OF MANAGEMENT, SPIRITUALITY & RELIGION 19
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http://www.rcan.org/sites/default/files/files/02GIRM.pdf
http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/what-we-believe/canon-law/complementary-norms/canon-1246.cfm
http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/what-we-believe/canon-law/complementary-norms/canon-1246.cfm
https://doi.org/10.1177/0149206310380462
https://doi.org/10.3109/10826084.2013.800744
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tourman.2012.10.003
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/325771008
Abstract
Introduction
Literature review
Servant leadership
Develops people
Shares leadership
Displays authenticity
Values people
Provides leadership
Builds community
Leader commitment
Organizational commitment
Participatory behaviors in church
Research model and hypotheses
Servant leadership and leader commitment
Servant leadership and organizational commitment
Leader commitment and organizational commitment
Leader commitment and participatory behaviors
Organizational commitment and participatory behaviors
Mediation hypotheses
Method
Sample and procedures
Measures
Servant leadership
Leader commitment
Organizational commitment
Participatory behaviors
Results
Measurement model assessment
Descriptive statistics, correlations, and reliabilities
Structural model assessment
Bootstrap analyses
Discussion
Theoretical contributions
Practical implications
Limitations and recommendations for future research
Disclosure statement
Notes on contributors
ORCID
References

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