Processes Through Which Servant Leadership Relates to Organisational and Employee Outcomes



Two studies are presented with a focus on the first study, which was based on a sample of 961 employees working in 71 restaurants of a moderate-sized U.S. restaurant chain. We investigated a key tenet of servant leadership theory - that servant leaders guide followers to emulate the leader’s behaviour by prioritising the needs of others above their own. We developed and tested a model contending that servant leaders propagate servant leadership behaviours among followers by creating a serving culture, which directly influences unit (i.e., restaurant/store) performance and enhances individual attitudes and behaviours directly and through the mediating influence of individuals’ identification with the unit. As hypothesized, serving culture was positively related both to restaurant performance and employee job performance, creativity, customer service behaviours, and negatively related to turnover intentions, directly and through employee identification with the restaurant.  Same source common method bias was reduced by employing five sources of data: employees, restaurant managers, customers, internal audits by headquarters staff, and external audits by a consulting firm.

Study 2, based on data collected from 409 employees and their immediate leaders representing 10 organisations in Singapore, showed servant leadership to be positively related to followers’ belief in the leader as a role model, as well as follower: pro-social motivation, helping, promotive voice behaviours, and servant leadership behaviours.