Essay about Servant Leadership

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Servant leadership at Heritage
Bible College: a single-case study


School of Leadership Studies, Regent University, Virginia, USA

Bruce E. Winston

Received January 2004
Revised April 2004
Accepted May 2004

The Leadership & Organization
Development Journal
Vol. 25 No. 7, 2004
pp. 600-617
q Emerald Group Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/01437730410561486

Keywords Leadership, Case studies
Abstract This case study used the variables of both Patterson’s and Winston’s models of servant
leadership and examined the attitudes of employees at Heritage Bible College toward their leader to
determine if the leader was a servant leader and if the variables of the two models helped explain the
process by which leaders and followers serve each other in the organization. Thirteen employees and the
leader provided data triangulated by three methods of data collection: the researcher’s observations
over a two-year period, the data from the Servant-Shepherd Leadership Indicator, and responses to ten
in-depth interview questions. This case study supports the use of Patterson’s and Winston’s models of
servant leadership, or at least confirms the specific variables examined by the interview question/topics:
trust, empowerment, vision, altruism, intrinsic motivation, commitment, and service.

Farling et al.’s (1999) call for empirical research on the concept of servant leadership has
given rise to a bevy of growth in the literature regarding definitional/conceptual studies.
The research of Laub (1999), Russell and Stone (2002), Sendjaya and Sarros (2002), Page
and Wong (2000), Dennis and Winston (2003) and of particular interest to this current case
study, the two-part servant leadership model developed by Patterson (2003) and Winston
(2003) that explains the process by which servant leadership affects both the follower and
the leader have been paramount contributions. While the research since Farling et al.’s
paper has indeed fostered increased understanding in the construct, servant leadership as
a distinct leadership style in which the leader’s focus is on the follower rather than the
organization (a concept supported by Bass (2000) and Yukl (2002)) is deficient. Although
there is greater understanding the literature lacks specific details that may help us select
the dominant definitions and models of servant leadership. This claim is supported by the
variety of operational definitions and the emergence of multiple measures of servant
leadership by Laub (1999), Wong (2003) and Sendjaya (2003).
Laub (1999) determined from his research that servant leadership is a form of shared
leadership in that servant leaders empower followers to work along side the leader
to accomplish the agreed upon goals. While Laub determined this concept of shared
power – or what Sashkin (2003) refers to as prosocial power – is used for the greater good
of all the people in the organization, there has been little research done to substantiate and
clarify the concept of servant leaders’ use of empowerment and prosocial power. Russell
(2001), as well as Russell and Stone (2002), include empowerment as a servant leader value,
but their work does not provide specific research to support the validity or practice of the
value. Russell and Stone also propose that, among other values, servant leaders exhibit
trust and service to followers; although, like empowerment, there is insufficient research to
support the claim. This current case study seeks to further the literature and provide
evidence as to the existence and practice of these values and behaviors.
Recent published and working papers by Russell and Stone (2002), Wong (2003),
Sendjaya and Sarros (2002), Patterson (2003), and