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A phenomenological study of servant leadership attributes in knowledge-based organizations in western Pennsylvania

Dissertation
Author: Joseph Louis Stahl
Abstract:
Servant Leadership is a leadership model offering the prospects of illustrating how to meet the complex demands of guiding knowledge-based organizations in the 21st century while addressing existing and emergent problems related to social responsibility. This qualitative phenomenological study used a modified van Kaam method by Moustakas with semi-structured, recorded, and transcribed interviews to focus on selected attributes of the phenomenon of Servant Leadership. The study explored the lived experiences of a purposive sample of 20 business and government leaders in knowledge-based organizations located in the western Pennsylvania region. Seven themes emerged from the research. The key findings reveal that servant leaders develop mutual respect in the leader-follower relationship by building trust through delegation and using active listening to promote understanding. Leading by example based upon consideration, empathy, and participation may establish ethical credibility. Servant leaders increased participation by providing resources and unselfish support to group members and inspired engagement to accomplish organizational goals by demonstrating commitment to leaders at every level of responsibility. Servant Leadership may offer the potential to convert normative values into concrete actions to drive performance and achieve personal fulfillment while promoting organizational sustainability based upon ethical practices.

vii TABLE OF CONTENTS LIST OF TABLES...............................................................................................xiv

CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION............................................................................1

Background of the Problem.....................................................................................2

Problem Statement...................................................................................................7

Purpose Statement....................................................................................................8

Significance of the Study.........................................................................................9

Significance of the Study to the Field of Leadership.............................................11

Nature of the Study................................................................................................12

Research Questions................................................................................................13

Theoretical Framework..........................................................................................14

Definition of Terms................................................................................................18

Assumptions...........................................................................................................21

Limitations.............................................................................................................22

Delimitations..........................................................................................................24

Summary................................................................................................................24

CHAPTER 2: REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE................................................26

Foundation of Servant Leadership.........................................................................27

Leadership Theories...............................................................................................35

Great Man Theory...........................................................................................35

Trait Theory....................................................................................................37

Behavioral Theory..........................................................................................38

Contingency Theory.......................................................................................40

viii Path-Goal Theory............................................................................................40

Leader Effectiveness Models..........................................................................41

Transformational Leadership..........................................................................48

Normative Leadership Theory........................................................................49

Summary................................................................................................................51

CHAPTER 3: METHOD.......................................................................................53

Research Method...................................................................................................54

Design Appropriateness.........................................................................................57

Population..............................................................................................................60

Sampling Frame.....................................................................................................62

Method of Inquiry..................................................................................................64

Informed Consent...................................................................................................64

Confidentiality.......................................................................................................65

Geographic Location..............................................................................................66

Researcher Epoché.................................................................................................68

Data Collection......................................................................................................69

Participant Interviews............................................................................................71 Participant Demographic Background................................................................... 71

Instrument Selection..............................................................................................73

Validity..................................................................................................................74

Internal Validity..............................................................................................75

External Validity.............................................................................................76

Data Analysis.........................................................................................................76

ix Summary................................................................................................................ 78

CHAPTER 4: RESULTS.......................................................................................79

Interview Findings.................................................................................................81

Listing and Preliminary Groupings................................................................82

Reductions and Eliminations..........................................................................83

Clustering and Thematizing............................................................................83

Theme 1: Servant Leaders engage followers by understanding through listening84

Theme 2: Leading by example and authenticity establishes ethical credibility.....86

Theme 3: Delegation to establish and demonstrate trust.......................................86

Theme 4: Leading by example and unselfish support demonstrates service to others ................................................................................................................................ 90

Theme 5: Trust, empathy, integrity, and knowledge as attributes of servant leadership ................................................................................................................................ 92

Theme 6: Leading by example and active participation as servant leadership practices ................................................................................................................................ 95

Theme 7: Increased participation as an effect of servant leadership.....................98

Final Identification of Invariant Constituents......................................................100

Summarized Individual Textural Descriptions....................................................101

Summarized Textural Description for Participant #1...................................101

Summarized Textural Description for Participant #2...................................103

Summarized Textural Description for Participant #3:..................................105

Summarized Textural Description for Participant #4...................................106

Summarized Textural Description for Participant #5:..................................108

x Summarized Textural Description for Participant #6:.................................. 109

Summarized Textural Description for Participant #7:..................................111

Summarized Textural Description for Participant #8:..................................112

Summarized Textural Description for Participant #9:..................................113

Summarized Textural Description for Participant #10:................................115

Summarized Textural Description for Participant #11:................................116

Summarized Textural Description for Participant #12:................................118

Summarized Textural Description for Participant #13:................................119

Summarized Textural Description for Participant #14:................................120

Summarized Textural Description for Participant #15:................................121

Summarized Textural Description for Participant #16:................................122

Summarized Textural Description for Participant #17:................................124

Summarized Textural Description for Participant #18:................................125

Summarized Textural Description for Participant #19:................................127

Summarized Textural Description for Participant #20:................................128

Summarized Individual Structural Descriptions..................................................129

Structural Description for Participant #1:.....................................................129

Structural Description for Participant #2:.....................................................130

Structural Description for Participant #3:.....................................................131

Structural Description for Participant #4:.....................................................131

Structural Description for Participant #5:.....................................................132

Structural Description for Participant #6:.....................................................132

Structural Description for Participant #7:.....................................................133

xi Structural Description for Participant #8:..................................................... 133

Structural Description for Participant #9:.....................................................134

Structural Description for Participant #10:...................................................134

Structural Description for Participant #11:...................................................135

Structural Description for Participant #12:...................................................135

Structural Description for Participant #13:...................................................136

Structural Description for Participant #14:...................................................136

Structural Description for Participant #15:...................................................137

Structural Description for Participant #16:...................................................137

Structural Description for Participant #17:...................................................137

Structural Description for Participant #18:...................................................138

Structural Description for Participant #19:...................................................138

Structural Description for Participant #20:...................................................139

Composite Textural Descriptions........................................................................139

Methods used to engage followers:..............................................................139

Methods used to demonstrate or establish ethical credibility:......................140

Methods used to demonstrate or establish trust:...........................................141

Methods used to demonstrate service to others:...........................................142

Attributes of Servant Leadership:.................................................................143

Practices of Servant Leadership:..................................................................144

Effects of Servant Leadership:......................................................................145

Composite Structural Descriptions......................................................................146

Textural-Structural Synthesis...............................................................................148

xii Methods Used to Engage Followers:............................................................ 148

Methods Used to Demonstrate or Establish Ethical Credibility:..................148

Methods Used to Demonstrate or Establish Trust:.......................................149

Methods Used to Demonstrate Service to Others:........................................149

Attributes of Servant Leadership:.................................................................149

Practices of Servant Leadership:..................................................................150

Effects of Servant Leadership:......................................................................150

Descriptive Sector Analysis.................................................................................150

Methods Used to Engage Followers:............................................................151

Methods Used to Demonstrate or Establish Ethical Credibility:..................152

Methods Used to Demonstrate or Establish Trust:.......................................152

Methods Used to Demonstrate Service to Others:........................................153

Attributes of Servant Leadership:.................................................................154

Practices of Servant Leadership:..................................................................154

Effects of Servant Leadership:.............................................................................155

Summary..............................................................................................................156

CHAPTER 5: CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS.......................158

Relevant Literature and Summary of Findings....................................................158

Emergent Themes and Patterns............................................................................160

Theme 1: Servant leaders engage followers by understanding through listening ...................................................................................................................... 160

Theme 2: Leading by example and authenticity establishes credibility.......160

Theme 3: Delegation to establish and demonstrate trust..............................161

xiii Theme 4: Leading by example and unselfish support demonstrates service to others ...................................................................................................................... 162

Theme 5: Trust, empathy, integrity, and knowledge as attributes of Servant Leadership..................................................................................................... 162

Theme 6: Leading by example and active participation as servant leader practices ...................................................................................................................... 163

Theme 7: Increased participation as an effect of Servant Leadership..........163

Implications..........................................................................................................164

Conclusions..........................................................................................................168

Limitations...........................................................................................................171

Significance of the Study to the Field of Leadership Research...........................172

Recommendation for Further Research...............................................................174

REFERENCES....................................................................................................176

APPENDIX A: INTERVIEW QUESTIONS......................................................224

APPENDIX B: PARTICIPANT BACKGROUND DATA.................................226

APPENDIX C: INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS..................................................228

APPENDIX D: INFORMED CONSENT COVER LETTER.............................404

APPENDIX E: INFORMED CONSENT RELEASE.........................................406

APPENDIX F: SERVICE CONFIDENTIALITY AGREEMENTS...................408

APPENDIX G: VALIDATED THEMES/ INVARIANT CONSTITUENTS.....411

APPENDIX H: THEMES/INVARIANT CONSTITUENTS IN SECTORS......418

xiv LIST OF TABLES Table 1 Methods used to engage followers……..……………………………..….….…..84 Table 2 Methods used to demonstrate or establish ethical credibility………..………....86 Table 3 Methods used to demonstrate or establish trust………………………...……....88 Table 4 Methods used to demonstrate service to others…………………………...…….90 Table 5 Attributes of Servant Leadership…………………………………………..……92 Table 6 Practices of Servant Leadership……………………………………………..….95 Table 7 Effects of Servant Leadership……………………………………………….…..98

1 CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION Guiding institutions and enterprises in a principled and effective fashion is one of the most significant challenges facing future leaders (Covey, 2004). Addressing organizational difficulties will become more complex in the emerging global marketplace (van Gelder, 2005). Bennis and Nanus argued, “A chronic crisis of governance exists because organizations are pervasively incapable of meeting the expectations of constituents” (1997, p. 2). An enduring challenge for scholars is articulating a conclusive and integrative theoretical construction of leadership that supports the objectives of the organization while meeting the expectations of various constituents (Bennis, 2007; Winston & Patterson, 2006). Servant Leadership theory offers the prospect of providing an ethical leadership theory to inform applied management practices in knowledge-based organizations in the 21st century (Greenleaf, 1977; Rost, 1993; Johnson, 2005). This phenomenological study proposed an exploration of the perceptions and lived leadership experiences of a purposive sample of servant leaders in knowledge-based organizations in western Pennsylvania to identify leadership attributes that promote productive and principled organizational governance through employee engagement. Complex processes and varying cultural settings of postindustrial organizations acerbate the demands on the modern leader’s knowledge, competence, and skills when faced with decision-making to fulfill the mission, vision, and values of any organization (Schein, 1996a). Many Servant Leadership advocates posit that a greater sense of stewardship by all individuals, at any level of authority in an organization, creates the environment to achieve higher levels of organizational performance, provides the leadership model for principled corporate governance, and establishes the cultural

2 framework for personal achievement (Autry, 2001; Blanchard, 2002; Covey, 2004; Covey, 2006; DePree, 1989; Spears, 1998). Chapter 1 introduces the background on the problem, the problem statement, purpose statement, and the significance of Servant Leadership research to leadership theory. Chapter 2 provides a review of germinal literature articulating the evolution of management theory and the theoretical construction of Servant Leadership. Chapter 3 articulates the employed research method. Chapter 4 provides the analysis of the research data and the results. Chapter 5 articulates the recommendations and conclusions of the research. Background of the Problem Many classical management theorists, such as Taylor (1911), Gilbreth (1914), Gantt (1916), and Fayol (1916/1949) postulated that universally applicable scientific principles guide effective operations in organizations. Follett (1918) advocated collaborative decision-making while emphasizing compromise to resolve conflict in the work environment. Barnard (1938) advanced the theory that employee acceptance is the source of management authority and legitimacy and this belief continues to influence management theory (Mahoney, 2002). In the modern industrial era, the concepts of management and leadership for applied purposes in organizations were synonymous but important differences between the two concepts have emerged that will continue to affect influence relationships between leaders and follower in future organizational settings (Kotterman, 2006). Zaleznik (1977) and Kotter (1990) articulated the distinction between management and leadership based upon personality, attitude towards goals, the concept of work, and relations with others. Kotter argued, “On the job experiences seems to undermine the development of the attributes needed for leadership” (2001, p. 93). The

3 focus of management is upon marshalling, directing, and controlling resources to address institutional requirements while leadership is concerned primarily with the influence relationship between people to create, produce, and direct effective change to meet the future needs of diverse constituencies. Future success in knowledge-based organizations will depend on understanding the distinctive requirements between management and leadership while building skills to meet the organization’s mission while fulfilling individual potential (Day & Schoemaker, 2000; Horibe, 1999). Successful industrial organizations in the 20th century focused upon mass production, cost containment, and economy of scale to achieve operational efficiencies, market dominance, and profitability with these processes pioneered in the Pittsburgh region (Nasaw, 2006; Standiford, 2005). Operations relied on hierarchical, bureaucratic structures with managers focusing upon conceiving and implementing ideas using scientifically engineered job descriptions (Tannebaum, 1966). The competitive demands of the global marketplace, the impact of decisions affecting diverse constituencies, and the need for an educated workforce necessitates sophisticated leadership competencies to achieve and sustain organizational performance and productivity (Argote, McEvily, & Reagans, 2003; Boyatzis, 2008; U.S. GAO, 2001). Current management issues center on the pace of globalization, the needs of multiple stakeholders impacted by organizational decisions, environmental considerations, creative innovation, and a shrinking labor pool of qualified workers to support knowledge-based organizations (Denning, 2005). The need to correct past practices resulting in corporate misdeeds requires more collaborative, ethical, and productive methods of leadership, while compelling organizations to recognize the value

4 of employee participation and commitment (Covey, 1990; van Gelder, 2005). Deeply embedded economic considerations continue to force organizational leaders to achieve economic goals at the expense of shareholder rights, by sacrificing community interests, while operating with ethical ambiguity (Frederick, 2006; Sacconi, 2006). Servant Leadership theory posits that the individual is the primary element of concern in organizations and offers an ethical leadership framework to meet the emergent needs of future leaders (Korac-Kakabadse et al., 2002; Northouse, 2007). Complex work environments demand more than structural realignment of positional authority relationships to achieve results (Cuffe, 2005; Kubrak et al., 2007; Rodriques, 2001). Many private and public organizations in the United States use matrix management structures characterized by multiple objectives with various plans, managers, and customers to achieve more efficient and effective performance (Davis & Lawrence, 1977; Kuprenas, 2003). In consulting, aerospace, and construction (Lawler, 1999), matrix management structures capitalize on the diverse skills and talents of knowledge workers while continuing to have misaligned goals, unclear division of responsibilities, and silo-focused employees (Sy & D’Annunzio, 2005). Employees in knowledge-based organizations are an essential element in the productivity equation and require greater status and affirmation than that of a commodity in a production process (Cross, Parker, & Sasso, 2003; Cross, 2004; Leach et al., 2003; Lev, 2001; Scholl et al., 2005). In a postindustrial economy, services predominate as the method to create value and knowledge is the basic source of innovations (Ritzer, 2007). The postindustrial corporate enterprise is not capitalized solely on plant and equipment assets but rather

5 upon individual knowledge, copyrights, and intellectual property rights (Brooking, 1996). The implication for organizational effectiveness is that employees need greater access to information to perform the work, continuously develop marketable knowledge, and create value with employee engagement vital to the success of the organization (Horibe, 1999; Liebowitz, 2004). Restricting performance because of control, ethical considerations, and trust related issues affects productivity and efficiency (Brandon, 2005; Politis, 2003; Wang & Rubenstein-Montano, 2003). Postindustrial organizations require workers to be involved in problem solving to assist in creating value (Lesser & Prusak, 2004; Morgan, 1986; Pinchot & Pinchot, 1994; Scott, 2003). New product creation requires innovation and contributions from all levels of the organization (Collins & Porras, 1994; Cross, Parker, & Sasson, 2003). The demands for better service and products place a greater premium upon worker initiative to enhance corporate innovation while achieving efficiency and effectiveness to sustain long-term success (Buckingham & Coffman, 1999; Collins, 2001; Cross, 2004). The challenge for postindustrial organizations is to achieve greater initiative, innovation, and participation by workers who have less loyalty, possess difficult to replace knowledge, and have skills that are transferable to other organizations (Boyett & Boyett, 1995; Chan & Liebowitz, 2006; Leonard, 2003; Schein, 1996b). Servant leaders are people within an organization who focus exclusively on the well-being of the employees and stakeholders (Spears & Lawrence, 2002). Leaders affect followers’ self-awareness that leads to increases in individual capability and organizational effectiveness (Patterson, 2003). Practicing Servant Leadership values of trust, appreciation of others, and empowerment results in outstanding organizational

6 performance based on personal fulfillment (Russell, 2001). Servant leader attributes influence employees to engage in organizational performance improvements, encourage ethical decision-making, and sustain an organization’s competitive advantage while promoting personal fulfillment (Russell & Stone, 2002). A review of the literature indicated that the concept of Servant Leadership has not benefited from extensive research based evidence. Many accounts of servant leader characteristics and effectiveness are based upon personal observations and anecdotal accounts not subject to the rigor of scholarly research. Although, a considerable body of empirical evidence exists that relates the perceived characteristics of Transformational Leadership to employee perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors on individual, group, and organizational effectiveness (Purvanova, Bono, & Dzieweczynski, 2006), the need for similar empirical data on Servant Leadership persists (Northouse, 1997; Sendjaya, 2003). The direction of Transformational Leadership is creating empowered dynamic cultures within organizations while Servant Leadership’s direction is towards the follower’s personal development and empowerment (Smith, Montagno, & Kuzmenko, 2004). “Transformational and Servant are rooted in the study of charismatic leadership” (Smith et al., 2004, p. 81). Servant Leadership is an intuitively attractive and popular concept, “The theory lacks scientific evidence to justify widespread acceptance” (Russell & Stone 2002, p. 145). Transformational and Servant Leadership theories require additional substantiation to establish universality in all contexts. Each theory shares significant relationships in attributes, types of leader behavior, and stewardship in organizations but differ on the leader’s motivation for behaving, intellectual stimulation of followers, and approaches to risk taking (Smith et al. 2004; Sendjaya & Sarros, 2002).

7 Problem Statement Competition in a global marketplace, technological innovation, and the need to retain an educated, loyal workforce demands more visionary leadership models to achieve increased organizational performance and productivity (Argote, McEvily, & Reagans, 2003). The Global Leadership and Organizational Behavior Effectiveness (GLOBE) research study identified the significance of visionary leadership attributes in influencing individual behavior within organizations to achieve greater performance (House, 2004). The problem is that many leaders who practice visionary leadership based upon social justice lack the leadership skills to engage employees to achieve greater organizational performance (Hayek, 1978; Smith, Montagno, & Kuzmenko, 2004; Rocha & Ghoshal, 2006; Russell, 2001). The consequences may promote a culture of self- serving decision making throughout organizations that jeopardize the interests of diverse stakeholders and constituents (Frederick, 2006; Knights & O’Leary, 2006). Servant Leadership focuses upon the role of leaders serving the highest priority needs of others and empowering followers to transform organizations though visionary leadership behavior (Blanchard, 2002). Servant Leadership becomes evident through a particular set of perceived leader attributes and behaviors (Joseph & Winston, 2005). A qualitative phenomenological study using a modified van Kaam method (Moustakas, 1994) to collect data for use in ascertaining servant leader attributes is an appropriate research approach for interpreting and understanding Servant Leadership (Shank, 2002). Recorded and transcribed semi-structured telephonic interviews captured and documented the perceptions and lived leadership experiences of a purposive sample of 20 servant leaders who include local, state, and federal public officials and business

8 executives in western Pennsylvania (Kvale, 1983; Kvale, 1996; Rubin & Rubin, 1995). A nomination panel assisted in identifying potential participants. The research data identified the ways specific Servant Leadership characteristics, attributes, and practices influence employees to make greater contributions to enhance ethical organizational performance, inform the training of future leaders, and promote personal fulfillment through principled selfless service to others (Ployhart, Weekley, & Baughman, 2006; Srivastava, Bartol, & Locke, 2006). Purpose Statement The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study using a modified van Kaam method was to gain understanding of the Servant Leadership phenomenon through the lived leadership experiences of servant leaders in western Pennsylvania. This qualitative research explored and described how servant leaders influence employees to achieve greater individual and collective performance in knowledge-based organizations based upon attributed behavior (Martinko, 1995; Martinko, 2004). The objective was to identify salient characteristics, behaviors, and attributes articulated under the theoretical framework of Servant Leadership using the lived experiences of servant leader decision- makers from two organizational domains representing the public and private sectors (See Appendix A). Characteristics, behaviors, and attributes are key components relating to the values of leaders and serves to illustrate the intentions, purpose, and objectives of leaders in relation to their followers, while indicating how influence occurs in organizations (Kotterman, 2006; Russell, 2001). The research design used a modified van Kaam qualitative phenomenological methodology based upon semi-structured interviews with servant leaders from public and

9 private organizations in western Pennsylvania (Moustakas, 1994). Data was obtained and analyzed from individual interviews from a purposive sample of 20 public officials and business leaders (see Appendix B). The semi-structured interviews using open-ended questions were conducted by telephone, recorded to compact discs, and professionally transcribed (see Appendix C). A qualitative phenomenological research study is an appropriate approach for conducting qualitative research because of the focus on Servant Leadership as a phenomenon (Creswell, 2002). Phenomenology enables the study of experiences to understand the development of worldviews (Marshall & Rossman, 1995). Moustakas argued, “Phenomena are the building block of human science and the basis for all knowledge” (1994, p. 26). The analysis themes are the Servant Leadership attributes of vision (Buchen, 1998; Patterson, 2004; Russell, 2001), influence (Covey, 1990; Farling et al., 1999), credibility (Kouzes & Posner, 2003), trust (Dennis & Bocarnea, 2005; Russell, 2001). Further, the Servant Leadership themes of service (Reinke, 2004), and empowerment were examined (Patterson, 2004; Russell & Stone, 2002). The research design explored attributes identified by local, state, and federal officials in the public sector and executive decision makers drawn from the business consulting, financial service, manufacturing, information technology, and medical communities representing the private sectors (Cooper & Schindler, 2003; Scott, 2003). Significance of the Study The study continued the empirical focus upon the human relations aspect of leadership that began with Mayo’s (1933) Hawthorne studies that evaluated the responses of individuals in the work environment. The significance of this research is the

10 examination of organizational stewardship that requires effective decision-making at all levels of the organization because the distinction between leadership and management will become less apparent in knowledge-based enterprises (Drucker, 1998). The need to capitalize on the diverse skills, talents, and abilities in the workforce will be obligatory for organizations to survive, sustain growth, and thrive in the global marketplace (Block, 1998). Servant Leadership represents an evolution in contemporary leadership theory and focuses upon the behavioral and interpersonal dimensions of the influence relationship that are central to leadership (Stone & Patterson, 2005). Mayo’s (1933) work correlated individual needs and perceptions with productivity. Mayo’s findings established the importance of group affiliation, personal esteem, and interpersonal reliance on organizational performance. University of Pittsburgh researcher Herzberg empirically illuminated and expanded upon Maslow’s (1954) insights on the satisfaction of needs, by positing that personal need satisfaction and perceptions drive behavior. Herzberg’s (1968) original contribution to organizational theory drew on longitudinal research that examined the lives of engineers and accountants in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Herzberg, Mausner, and Snyderman’s (1959) research on job attitudes defined two categories of needs identified as hygiene and motivators: hygiene factors reflect variables associated with environmental considerations and motivator needs deal with elements perceived as position or job related. “Hygiene factors are extrinsic, non-job-related variables like company policies, salary, coworker relationships, and supervisory style. Motivator variables are factors such as achievement, recognition, the work itself, responsibility, advancement, and growth” (Steers, Porter, & Bigley, p. 17). Work satisfaction and sustained motivation by

11 individuals to become more productive and effective occur only through motivator factors (Herzberg, 1966). McGregor (1960) postulated that organizations perform more effectively when individual needs are satisfied (Pinder, 1998). McGregor’s work signals the importance of paradigms in interpersonal relationships, organizational ethos, and overt manifestations of leadership. Kuhn (1996) posited that leadership paradigms, rather than management techniques, motivate and influence behavior at all levels of organizations and systems. Transformational Leadership and Servant Leadership are categorized as high order leadership paradigms because the theoretical frameworks emphasize a high concern for both people and production-based performance (Stone & Patterson, 2005). The primary distinction is the focus of Transformational Leadership upon improving the organization, while the focus of Servant Leadership is on fulfilling the potential of the individual (Smith, Montagno, & Kuzmenko, 2004; Stone, Russell, & Patterson, 2004). Significance of the Study to the Field of Leadership The significance of this study to the field of leadership is the identification of leadership characteristics, attributes, and behaviors perceived to influence employees to achieve greater ethical performance in organizations (Ciulla, 2005; Hamilton & Bean, 2005; Kaptein et al., 2005). Many institutions and organizations are under enormous strain because they are designed to meet needs that no longer exist, fail to meet the needs that do exist, and leave individuals ill prepared, untrained, or improperly led to meet the demands of the future (Castells, 2000; Cuff, 2005; Haslam, Eggins, & Reynolds, 2003). New mental models, based upon enduring knowledge, and framed by experience and expertise, are an essential requirement to meet future leadership challenges during

12 emergent and chaotic changes (Kaplan & Kaiser, 2003; Liebowitz, 2004; Lord, 2000). Leadership assists in establishing how individuals make sense of an organizational reality (Handy, 1996; Weick, 1995). Leadership is about dynamic relationships based upon trust and understanding whose goal is to accomplish a shared vision (Handy, 1995). Shaping and sharing a vision of the future, in conjunction with others, is an essential ingredient for developing future leaders (Kouzes & Posner, 1995). Many substantial barriers exist that impede servant leader effectiveness in organizations (Foster, 2000). This research articulated and identified attributes of Servant Leadership that provide the foundation for human achievement based upon ethical behavior and collaborative leadership relations intended to produce effective performance of individuals within knowledge-based organizations in a postmodern information age (Leonard, 2003). The significance of this study is in the identification of how leaders and followers influence each other to develop ethical mutual purposes and to create personal fulfillment while being directed towards enhancing organizational performance (Day & Lord, 1988; Denison 1990; Hareli & Tzafnir, 2006; Kotter & Haskell, 1992; Lieberson & O’Connor; 1972; Shashkin et al., 1992). The intent of the study is to contribute to existing empirical Servant Leadership research. Nature of the Study This qualitative modified van Kaam phenomenological study explored and defined perceived Servant Leadership attributes, behaviors, and characteristics and how servant leaders influence employees to achieve greater individual and collective performance. Various qualitative research approaches were considered to address the research questions identified in the problem statement. Ethnography (Hammersley, 1990;

13 Spradley & McCurdy, 1972), grounded theory (Silverman, 2005), contemporary action research (Cummings & Worley, 2005; Marshall & Lancaster, 2005), and a Delphi study (Adler & Ziglio, 1996; Brockhoff, 1975; Delbecq et al., 1975; DeVilliers, DeVilliers, & Kent, 2005) were evaluated as potential methods. Alternative qualitative approaches would not have adequately explored the existential essence of the phenomenon of Servant Leadership using the lived leadership experiences of subject matter experts, would not have drawn on the researcher’s personal experiences, nor been future-oriented as consistent with the needs of emergent leaders (Marshall & Rossman, 1999; Moerer-Urdahl & Creswell, 2004; van Manen, 1990). The use of a qualitative phenomenological study, using a modified van Kaam research methodology with semi-structured interviews, was an appropriate approach to conduct research required to describe, understand, and explore the lived leadership experiences of practicing servant leaders in knowledge-based organizations (Bass, 1990; Cassell & Symon, 2004; Giorgi, 1986; Moustakas, 1994; Silverman, 1964; Spiegelberg, 1972; von Eckartsberg, 1971; van Kaam, 1959; Wertz, 1984a; Wertz, 1984b). Research Questions The qualitative phenomenological study explored the attributes of servant leaders in private and public organizations in western Pennsylvania. The study provided new insight and knowledge on the factors associated with the perception of attributes in servant leaders and the impact of attributes on the performance of organizations (Russell & Stone, 2002; Sendjaya & Sarros, 2002). The research focused on the questions: How do leaders use Servant Leadership characteristics and attributes to influence employees

14 and how do the characteristics or use of the characteristics vary by organizational environment? Theoretical Framework The study was framed by participants with knowledge of the concepts of Servant Leadership within the context of two distinct professional venues or knowledge-based organizational working environments. An examination of the invariant attributes associated with vision (Buchen, 1998; Patterson, 2004; Russell, 2001), influence (Covey, 1990; Farling et al., 1999), credibility (Kouzes & Posner, 2003), trust (Dennis & Bocarnea, 2005; Russell, 2001), service (Reinke, 2004), and empowerment (Patterson, 2003; Russell & Stone, 2002) was explored to evaluate the significant relationship and distinctions between the Transformational model of leadership and the Servant Leadership model (Bass, 1998; Winston & Patterson, 2006). Quality research has a number of essential components including data analysis reflecting description and thematic development, providing accurate and credible accounts of the data collection process, and contains extensive data collection to convey the complexity of the phenomenon (Creswell, 1994; Creswell, 2002; Creswell, 2003). Quality research addresses issues of real importance that advance the body of knowledge on a particular subject, has a defined constituency, and a wider audience that can generalize the findings for use (Marshall & Rossman, 1999). Quality research focuses upon increasing understanding and knowledge regarding important problems affecting individuals, organizations, or larger informed audiences. Research requires a systematic ethical approach with a defined methodology using careful planning in the measurement

15 of variables, thoughtful structured reflection, and full disclosure of methods to promote transparency and replication (Anderson & Kanuka, 2003). Moustakas (1994) identifies seven key principles for phenomenological research. Shank (2001, p.81) articulated Moustakas’ seven principles as: 1. A commitment to the use of qualitative methods; 2. A primary focus on the whole experience, rather than on parts of it; 3. A search for meaning over a search for rules; 4. Primary use of first person accounts as main data sources; 5. Insisting that accounts of experiences are a necessary part of any scientific understanding of any social phenomena; 6. Performing research that is guided by personal interests and commitment of the researcher; 7. The necessity of treating experiences and behavior as integrated parts of a single whole. Exploring how individuals see and interpret the world is the focus of empirical qualitative phenomenological research (Colaizzi, 1978; Dustin, 1969; Giorgi, 1965; Giorgi, 1970; Giorgi, 1971; Giorgi, 1997; Hammond, Howarth, & Keat, 1991). A phenomenological approach provides an effective means for exploratory research based upon the rich textured narrative descriptions of the lived leadership experiences of decision makers at various levels of authority in public and private organizational and occupational domains (Hebert, 2006; Lewis, 2006; Moffett, 2005; Morales-Adams, 2007; Page, 2005; Sneed, 2006; Steward, 2005).

Full document contains 440 pages
Abstract: Servant Leadership is a leadership model offering the prospects of illustrating how to meet the complex demands of guiding knowledge-based organizations in the 21st century while addressing existing and emergent problems related to social responsibility. This qualitative phenomenological study used a modified van Kaam method by Moustakas with semi-structured, recorded, and transcribed interviews to focus on selected attributes of the phenomenon of Servant Leadership. The study explored the lived experiences of a purposive sample of 20 business and government leaders in knowledge-based organizations located in the western Pennsylvania region. Seven themes emerged from the research. The key findings reveal that servant leaders develop mutual respect in the leader-follower relationship by building trust through delegation and using active listening to promote understanding. Leading by example based upon consideration, empathy, and participation may establish ethical credibility. Servant leaders increased participation by providing resources and unselfish support to group members and inspired engagement to accomplish organizational goals by demonstrating commitment to leaders at every level of responsibility. Servant Leadership may offer the potential to convert normative values into concrete actions to drive performance and achieve personal fulfillment while promoting organizational sustainability based upon ethical practices.