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Identifying primary characteristics of servant leadership: A Delphi study

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 2011
Dissertation
Author: Adam Focht
Abstract:
The purpose of this study was to more clearly define servant leadership by identifying primary characteristics of the phenomenon through a Delphi study. Greenleaf (1977) stated that servant leadership "begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead" (p. 13). Greenleaf clearly stated that in servant leadership, service comes before leadership. Because a servant leader serves first, I designated those characteristics of a servant as the primary characteristics of servant leadership. In order to serve first, a servant leader must first exhibit the primary characteristics and then aspire to lead. Over 100 characteristics of servant leadership have been identified in the literature (Sendjaya, 2003, p. 4). I discuss 64 characteristics identified with servant leadership in the literature. I conducted a Delphi study with experts in the field of servant leadership and, after three rounds, 12 characteristics were identified as primary characteristics of servant leadership. These characteristics include valuing people, humility, listening, trust, caring, integrity, service, empowering, serving others' needs before their own, collaboration, love/unconditional love, and learning.

TABLE OF CONTENTS ABSTRACT iii LIST OF TABLES viii CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION 1 Servant Leadership: An Oxymoron 1 The Origins of Servant Leadership 1 The Modern Conception 6 Defining Servant Leadership 9 Primary Characteristics 14 Problem Statement 16 Purpose and Significance 17 Research Question 17 Study Assumptions 17 Delimitations and Limitations 18 Organization of Study 18 CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE RE VIEW 19 Characteristics of Servant Leadership 19 Acceptance 19 Accountability 19 Acknowledging 20 Acts of service 20 Action oriented 20 Altruism 20 Altruistic calling 20 Appreciation of others 21 Availability 21 Awareness 21 Breadth 22 Building community 22 Calling 22 Challenging 25 Collaboration 25 Comfort with ambiguity 25 Communication 25 Conceptualization 26 Courage in relationships 26 Credibility 26 Delegation 27 Discernment 27 Empathy 27 Empowerment 27 IV

Encouragement 28 Engaging in honest self-evaluation 28 Equality 29 Foresight 29 Growth of people 30 Healing 30 Holistic mindset 31 Honesty 31 Humility 31 Influence 32 Initiative 32 Inner consciousness 33 Integrity 33 Intellectual energy and curiosity 33 Intuitive insight 34 Joy 34 Listening 34 Love 35 Mentoring 36 Modeling 36 Moral reasoning 37 Personal purpose 37 Persuasion 38 Pioneering 38 Predictability 39 Presence 39 Providing leadership , 39 Security 39 Sense of humor 39 Sense of mission 40 Service 40 Spirituality 40 Stewardship 40 Supporting and resourcing 41 Teaching 41 Trust 41 Visibility 42 Vision 42 Vulnerability 43 Wisdom 43 Summary 43 CHAPTER 3: METHODOLOGY 45 Delphi Study 45 Key Features of the Classical Delphi 46 v

Anonymity 46 Iteration 47 Controlled feedback 47 Statistical aggregation 48 Research Methods 48 Participant Selection 49 Contacting Participants 50 Number of Participants 51 Number of Rounds 51 Round 1 52 Develop Round 2 questionnaire and feedback 53 Round 2 53 Statistical Analysis 54 Statistical Aggregation 55 Weaknesses 55 Participant selection 56 Bias and lack of expertise of participants 56 Expert opinions diluted by others 56 Time requirements 56 Low response rates 57 Molding opinions, leading, or changing participants' responses 57 Generalization 58 CHAPTER 4: RESULTS 59 Round 1 59 Round 2 Questionnaire 61 Round 2 Results 63 Round 3 Questionnaire 64 Round 3 Results 65 Measuring Consensus 67 CHAPTER 5: DISCUSSION 72 Primary Characteristics of Servant Leadership 72 Valuing people 73 Humility 73 Listening 74 Trust 75 Caring 75 Integrity 76 Service 76 Empowering 77 Serving others' needs before their own 78 Collaboration 78 VI

Love/unconditional love 79 Learning 79 Limitations 80 Number of characteristics in the study 80 Combining similar characteristics 81 Response rate 81 Lack of clarity about the use of the term primary 82 Completeness 82 Suggestions for Further Research 83 Conclusion 83 REFERENCES 86 APPENDIX A: LIST OF POTENTIAL EXPERT PARTICIPANTS 97 APPENDIX B: INITIAL CONTACT E-MAIL 98 APPENDIX C: QUESTIONNAIRE 1 99 APPENDIX D: LIST OF CHARACTERISTICS OF SERVANT LEADERSHIP 100 APPENDIX E: FORMAT FOR QUESTIONNAIRE 2 101 APPENDIX F: QUESTIONNAIRE 2 103 APPENDIX G: QUESTIONNAIRE 3 117 vn

LIST OF TABLES Table 1 Results from the Round 1 Questionnaire 60 Table 2 Results from the Round 2 Questionnaire 63 Table 3 Results from the Round 3 Questionnaire 66 Table 4 Consensus Measured by Kendall's W 67 Table 5 Consensus for Individual Characteristics 68 Table 6 Primary Characteristics 69 Table 7 Primary Characteristics and Definitions 70 Table 8 Number and Percentage of Responses for Each Round 81 vni

1 CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION In this chapter, I discuss the origins and modern conceptions of servant leadership. I examine attempts made to define the phenomenon provided in the literature as well as introduce and discuss the need to identify primary characteristics of servant leadership. Finally, I discuss the purpose, research question, study assumptions, delimitations, limitations, and organization of this study. Servant Leadership: An Oxymoron Many find it hard to accept the phenomenon of servant leadership because they do not understand how a servant can be a leader and how a leader can be a servant. It seems to be an oxymoron (Russell & Stone, 2002, p. 145; Sendjaya & Sarros, 2002, p. 57; Wong & Page, 2003, p. 2); however, Kiechel (1995) suggested that the two words should not be thought of as an oxymoron "but rather as a sort of Zen koan, a juxtaposition of apparent opposites meant to startle the seeker after wisdom into new insight" (p. 122). This new insight is that the leader exists to serve those whom he or she leads (Kiechel, 1995, p. 122). Some servant leaders take Kiechel's idea further, understanding leading and serving as synonymous. Max De Pree (1992) stated, "above all, leadership is a position of servanthood. Leadership is also a position of debt; it is a forfeiture of rights" (p. 220). The Origins of Servant Leadership The idea of servant leadership has roots in the New Testament in the teachings of Jesus Christ who many writers have argued to be the greatest leader in history (Blanchard & Hodges, 2005; Contee-Borders, 2003, p. 59; Laub, 1999, p. 11). In Mark 10:43, Jesus told his disciples that whoever wants to be great among you must first be your servant.

2 "Great" in this context is most likely referring to rank (Grundman, 1985, p. 533). Therefore, it is possible to understand Jesus's instruction to his disciples as whoever wants to be your leader must first be your servant. This is in fact how this verse is translated in The New Living Translation. Although positional authority does not always equate to real leadership, it seems that Jesus is referring to positional authority or rank with real leadership. Jesus not only taught about servant leadership, he also practiced it. This is most prominently seen when Jesus washed his disciples' feet (John 13), a chore that was reserved for the host's servant or, in his absence, the lowest-ranking guest (Sendjaya & Sarros, 2002, p. 57). After Jesus washed his disciples' feet, he instructed them to follow his example (John 13:14-15). Jesus was not just training servants, he was training servant leaders. Jesus is not the only biblical figure to which the idea of service and leadership has been associated. The Hebrew Bible and the New Testament contain many examples of leaders who were referred to as servants. The most common Hebrew word to describe a servant is 12V or eved. This word is used to describe many leaders in the Hebrew Bible as servants of the Lord. Examples include the patriarchs, Moses, Caleb, Samuel, David, Job, Isaiah, Hezekiah, Zerubbabel, Daniel, the prophets, the Messiah, Israel, and the king of Babylon. There are two examples in the Hebrew Bible that clearly describe servant leadership. However, these are not good examples of servant leadership but examples of when leaders failed to serve. The first is found in Numbers 16:9 (New King James Version) when Moses rebuked Korah for leading a rebelling. Moses asks Korah, "Is it a

small thing to you that the God of Israel has separated you from the congregation ... to stand before the congregation and serve them." Here is a clear description of a group of leaders who are to serve those that they lead. Another example in the Hebrew Bible of servant leadership, when a leader who puts his followers' needs before his own, is seen I Kings 12:6-15 in the advice of the late King Solomon's advisors to his son, the new King Rehoboam. The advisors tell the new king that if he will be a servant to the people and serve them, then they will always be his servants. Unfortunately, the young king rejected the wise counsel of his father's advisors. Interestingly, the text states in verse 15 that the new king did not listen to the people, which is one of the most important characteristics of a servant leader. The Hebrew Bible is filled with examples of leaders referred to as servants; however, none of these examples served those whom they led. All of these individuals were leaders who served God, a higher power. Jesus is the only example in the Hebrew Bible and New Testament described as serving those whom he leads. The prophecies in the Hebrew Bible of the coming Messiah describe a servant leader as one who will put the needs of his followers before his own. Isaiah 61:1-2 foretells of the Messiah who will preach good tidings to the poor, heal the brokenhearted, proclaim liberty to the captives, and comfort all who mourn. The servant leader expectations of the Messiah can also be seen in Rabbinical literature. However, some Rabbis separated the Messiah servant leader into two Messiahs: (a) the Messiah son of Joseph who comes first as a servant and dies and (b) the Messiah son of David who comes later to rule as a king. It is interesting to note that the

4 Messiah son of David is expected to resurrect the fallen Messiah son of Joseph (Alley, 1999). The authors of the New Testament used many words that described servants to refer to leaders. Sendjaya, Sarros, and Santora (2008) listed seven key Greek words for servant that appear in the New Testament: diakonos, doulos, huperetes, therapon, oiketes, sundoulos, and pais (p. 406). Citing Vine's (1981) Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, Sendjaya et al. argued, "none of these words insinuates a lack of self- respect or low self-image. Instead, voluntary subordination is manifested in the willingness to assume the lowliest of positions and endure hardship and suffering on behalf of other people" (p. 406). The first of these words, diakonos, appears in Mark 10:43 to mean servant. This same word also appears in Romans 16:1 to describe Phoebe. Most translations translate diakonos in Romans 16:1 to mean servant (i.e., American King James Version, American Standard Version, English Revised Version, English Standard Version, King James Version, New American Standard Version, New International Version, Webster's Bible Translation, Weymouth New Testament, World English Bible), whereas others translate it to deacon or deaconess (i.e., God's Word Translation, New Living Translation) and some translate it to minister (Darby Bible Translation, Young's Literal Translation). Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible translates diakonos as a servant, waiter at a table or in other menial duties, or specifically a Christian teacher and pastor, technically a deacon, deaconess, or minister (Strong, n.d., p. 22). In the New Revised Standard Version, diakonos is translated in different verses as servant, attendant, deacon, and minister (McReynolds, 1999, p. 1244). The use of

5 diakonos to mean both servant and leader in the New Testament points to evidence of servant leadership in the early Christian community. Wayne Schmidt, the CEO and principal of Schmidt Associates, a successful architectural firm that has implemented servant leadership, described how he discovered the phenomenon. He stated that Greenleaf s (1977) servant leadership "aroused my interest... as an academic approach to my Christian beliefs" (as cited in Frick, 1995, p. 265). Coincidentally, what Greenleaf was emphasizing was exactly what I was attempting to weave into our office values. As I thought about servant-leadership, however, I thought the part Greenleaf left out was the Christian aspect of servant- leadership. I see Christ as being the ultimate servant. Biblically, servant leadership means being the ultimate servant, or the self as servant, with serving others as the mission. (Frick, 1995, p. 265) Although servant leadership is strongly rooted in Judeo-Christian theology, servant leadership can be found in other religions. Sendjaya et al. (2008) observed that "the concept of servant leadership has frequently been closely tied to religious theology" (p. 406). Servant leadership has been identified in Hinduism, Islam, Taoism, and Zen Buddhism (McCollum, 1995, p. 242; Rieser, 1995, p. 56; Sarayrah, 2004; Sendjaya et al., 2008, p. 406; Vanourek, 1995, p. 300). Jeff McCollum (1995) identified roots of servant leadership in the writings of Lao Tzu, an ancient Chinese philosopher and central figure in Taosim (p. 242). Carl Rieser (1995) stated that Greenleaf traces the idea back to Confucius (p. 56). In fact, the book that inspired the modern concept of servant leadership, Herman Hesse's (1956) Journey to the East, "is rich in ancient Eastern

religious tradition, primarily Hindu" (Sendjaya et al., 2008, p. 406). Sendjaya et al. concluded, "a common thread among these approaches is the internal conviction that the servant leader is a servant of a higher being or power, and in obedient gratitude to that higher being or power, serves people" (p. 406). Support for servant leadership can also be found in nonreligious traditions (Fry, 2003; Hicks, 2002; Sendjaya et al., 2008). The importance of servant leadership can be seen in the coronation ceremonies of kings and queens for the last 1,000 years and can still be seen in inaugurations of heads of state today (Sendjaya & Sarros, 2002, p. 58). The mere fact that politicians are referred to as public servants testifies to the underlying importance of servant leadership in today's culture. The Modern Conception The modern conception of servant leadership can be traced back to 1969 when the phrase was first coined by retired AT&T executive Robert K. Greenleaf. In 1969, Greenleaf wrote an essay titled "The Servant as Leader" out of "concern for pervasive student attitudes which ... seemed devoid of hope" (Greenleaf, 1977, p. 3). In this essay, Greenleaf (1977) asserted, "the servant-leader is servant first" (p. 13). He explained that servant leadership "begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead" (p. 13). Greenleaf turned the leadership pyramid on its head, putting employees, customers, and community above the leader (Blanchard, 1995; Brody, 1995, p. 130; Hennessy, Killian, & Robins, 1995, p. 167; Spears, 1995, p. 8). No longer was the leader at the top of the pyramid with his top managers serving him and their subordinates serving them. In servant leadership, the leader is now at the bottom of the pyramid serving those who were previously below him,

7 his top managers, and those managers are now serving their subordinates, and they are serving the customers (Hennessy et al., 1995, p. 167). Greenleaf actually preferred to refer to circles over pyramids—"a pyramid is based on an attractive intellectual notion of order and clear power, a circle is based on shared power" (as cited in Frick, 1995, p. 258). Servant leaders put other people's needs above their own (Sendjaya & Sarros, 2002, p. 57). For the servant leader, employees, customers, and community are the number one priority (Spears, 1995, p. 3). Servant leaders understand that people do not work for them, they work for the people (Blanchard, 1995, p. 5; Blanchard & Miller, 2007, p. 56; Contee-Borders, 2003, p. 52; Covey, 1994, p. 5). For the servant leader, profit is not the "primary purpose of a business; instead it is to create a positive impact on its employees and community" (Spears, 1995, p. 8). Greenleaf stated that businesses exist as much to provide meaningful work for people as they exist "to provide a product or a service to the customer" (as cited in Rieser, 1995, p. 58). The servant leader's deliberate choice is to serve others. In fact, the servant leader's chief motive is to serve rather than lead. Furthermore, servant leaders seek to encourage their followers to "grow healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, and more likely themselves to become servants" (Greenleaf, 1977, p. 13). Greenleaf found his inspiration for the idea of servant leadership in Hesse's (1956) novel Journey to the East. This novel tells the story of a group of men on a pilgrimage. Although most authors quickly point to Leo as the main character (Sendjaya & Sarros, 2002, p. 57), he is actually of secondary importance. The narrator, who is often thought to be a personification of Hesse himself, is actually the central character in the story (Greenleaf, 1995, p. 20; Senge, 1995, p. 220). Nonetheless, Leo is correctly

8 identified as the inspiration for Greenleaf s concept of servant leadership. For the first half of the story, Leo appears to be the group's servant, doing their menial chores while encouraging the group with spirit and song (Sendjaya & Sarros, 2002, p. 57). The group successfully continues on its journey eastward until Leo disappears. "Then the group falls into disarray and the journey is abandoned" (Sendjaya & Sarros, 2002, p. 57). They do not realize it at the time, but they cannot continue the journey without the servant Leo. The narrator, who was also one of the party, finds Leo and is brought into the order that sponsored the journey. "There he discovers that Leo, whom he had known first as servant, was in fact the titular head of the Order, its guiding spirit, a great and noble leader" (Sendjaya & Sarros, 2002, p. 57). Here the narrator, who also served the group through his musical gifts, discovers that he was also thought to be a leader by other members of the group (Hesse, 1956, p. 114). In the character of Leo, Hesse (1956) wrote that the law of service is that "he who wishes to live long must serve, but he who wishes to rule does not live long" (p. 34). He continued, "there are few born to be masters; they remain happy and healthy. But all the others who have only become masters through endeavor, end in nothing" (Hesse, 1956, p. 34). The narrator said that he had to admire Leo as a "good and perfect servant... the perfect guide, the perfect servant at his task" (Hesse, 1956, p. 83). Of course, when it is revealed that Leo is the president of the secret order in the meeting hall, he is humbly sitting at the very back of the hall (Hesse, 1956, p. 98). Leo, Hesse's (1956) servant leader and the muse for Greenleaf s servant leadership, surprisingly states that some people are beyond help (p. 70). Leo expands on his lack of compassion for people when he stated, "as for me, I am not one who

9 understands people at all. I am not interested in them" (Hesse, 1956, p. 73). Such language is surprising for the muse of the modern idea of servant leadership and very far from the example given of Jesus Christ in the New Testament. Nonetheless, Greenleaf (1977) proclaimed that Hesse is clear "that the great leader is seen as servant first, and that simple fact is the key to his greatness" (p. 7). Leo was actually the leader all of the time, but he was servant first because that was what he was, deep down inside. Leadership was bestowed upon a man who was by nature a servant. It was something given, or assumed, that could be taken away. His servant nature was the real man, not bestowed, not assumed, and not to be taken away. He was servant first. (Greenleaf, 1977, p. 7) Greenleaf (1977) stated that the character of Leo exemplifies "that behind the seemingly absurd and irrational coexistence of servanthood and leadership, there emerges a profound sense of leadership that begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first" (p. 13). It is then, and only then, that conscious choice brings the servant leader to aspire to lead (Greenleaf, 1977, p. 13). Defining Servant Leadership In 2002, Sendjaya and Sarros stated that only anecdotal evidence exists "to support a commitment to an understanding of servant leadership... . One reason for the scarcity of research on servant leadership is that the very notion of 'servant as leader' is an oxymoron" (p. 57). In 2010, Winston stated that we still "lack a unified accepted theory of servant leadership" (p. 186). In the same year, Van Dierendonck observed, "despite its introduction four decades ago and empirical studies that started more than 10

10 years ago (Laub, 1999), there is still no consensus about a definition and theoretical framework of servant leadership" (p. 2). In the same article that Greenleaf (1977) coined the term servant leadership, he gave a broad definition and stated how to best measure the phenomenon: The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant—first to make sure that other people's highest priority needs are being served. The best test, and difficult to administer, is: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society; will they benefit, or, at least, not be further deprived? (Greenleaf, 1977, p. 13) Larry Spears, the former CEO of the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership, referred to Greenleaf s definition as the "broadest... of servant leadership" (as cited in Polleys, 2002, p. 124). Since Greenleaf defined servant leadership in somewhat vague terms, scholars have been trying to find a more precise definition. Farling, Stone, and Winston (1999) stated, "if anecdotal evidence exists, then the next step in advancing the research stream is to define the major variables" (p. 51). The first to publish his attempt to more precisely define servant leadership by identifying characteristics of the phenomenon was J. W. Graham. In 1991, Graham identified humility, relational power, autonomy, moral development of followers, and emulation of leaders' service orientation as characteristics of servant leadership. In 1992, De Pree listed 12 characteristics of leadership in which he included integrity; vulnerability; discernment; awareness of the human spirit; courage in relationships; sense of humor; intellectual energy and curiosity; respect of the future,

11 regard for the present, understanding of the past; predictability; breadth; comfort with ambiguity; and presence. Although De Pree did not specifically state that he was listing characteristics of servant leadership, he understands leadership to be a position of servanthood (p. 220). In 1995, Spears published a list of 10 critical characteristics of servant leadership based on Greenleaf s writings with the disclaimer that they were "by no means exhaustive. However, these characteristics communicate the power and promise this concept offers to those who are open to its invitation and challenge" (Spears, 1995, p. 7). Spears' 10 characteristics include listening, empathy, healing, persuasion, awareness, foresight, conceptualizing, commitment to growth, stewardship, and community. Spears' list remains to this day the most respected and referred to list of servant leadership characteristics. According to Barbuto and Wheeler (2006), Spears' work provided "the closest representation of an articulated framework for what characterizes servant leadership" (p. 302). In 1999, Spears (as cited in Polleys, 2002) stated that servant leadership is "open to considerable interpretation and values judgment" (p. 124) and therefore attempts should not be made "to define servant leadership as a 'fixed or complicated set of requirements'" (p. 124). Still others may hold to a fixed view of such things as: what the internal structure of a servant-led organization should look like; the process to be used in decision making; or a specific understanding of how a board, CEO, and staff must operate within the boundaries of servant leadership. The danger ... is that it could become so narrowly defined as to close the door on a wider audience of people

12 who do embrace the broadest definition of servant leadership—namely, Greenleaf s "test." (Spears, as cited in Polleys, 2002, p. 124) Many other scholars have identified additional attributes of servant leadership. In 1998, Buchen associated four characteristics with servant leadership: capacity for reciprocity, preoccupation with future, relationship building, and self-identity. In 1999, Farling et al. identified five components from the literature on servant leadership. They referred to vision and service as behavioral components and influence, credibility, and trust as relational components. Barburo and Wheeler (2006) stated that the work of Farling et al. was unclear how it differentiated from "better-understood leadership theories such as transformational leadership" (p. 302). Also in 1999, Laub listed six characteristics of servant leadership: building community, developing people, displaying authenticity, providing leadership, sharing leadership, and valuing people (p. 3). In 2000, Russell identified "at least 20 distinguishable attributes of servant leadership" (p. 12) in the literature of which he classified nine as functional. He claimed that there was not enough literature on servant leadership at the time to "identify with specificity the attributes of servant leaders" but there was "enough consistency in the literature to make it possible to discern characteristics that should exist among servant leaders" (Russell, 2000, p. 12). Russell's (2000) functional attributes consist of vision, honesty, integrity, trust, service, modeling, pioneering, appreciation of others, and empowerment. Russell (2000) stated, "the functional attributes are the operative characteristics of servant leadership. They are identifiable characteristics that actuate leadership responsibilities" (p. 12). Russell and Stone (2002) stated that the functional attributes "determine the form and effectiveness of servant leadership" (p. 153).

13 Russell (2000) also identified an additional 11 characteristics that he called accompanying attributes. Russell defined accompanying attributes as "companion or supplemental characteristics of servant leaders" (p. 6). "The accompanying attributes supplement and augment functional attributes. They are not secondary in nature; rather, they are complementary and in some areas, prerequisites to effective servant leadership" (Russell, 2000, p. 7). Russell and Stone (2002) stated that accompanying attributes "affect the level and intensity of the functional attributes" (p. 153). These consist of communication, credibility, competence, stewardship, visibility, influence, persuasion, listening, encouragement, teaching, and delegation (Russell & Stone, 2002, p. 147). In 2002, Barbuto and Wheeler identified 11 potential dimensions of servant leadership adding "calling" (p. 303) to Spears' (1995) original 10. In her 2003 dissertation, Kathleen Patterson identified seven constructs of servant leadership that included love, humility, altruism, vision, trust, empowerment, and service. In the same year, Sendjaya (2003) identified 101 items; however, he did not list them individually but classified them into six dimensions and 22 subdimensions (p. 4). In 2006, Barbuto and Wheeler declared, "a more precise clarification of the servant leadership construct is necessary" (p. 301). Their research produced five servant leadership "factors" (p. 300): altruistic calling, emotional healing, persuasive mapping, wisdom, and organizational stewardship. In 2007, Irving and Longbotham listed four characteristics of servant leadership that included engaging in honest self-evaluation, fostering collaboration, providing accountability, and supporting and resourcing (p. 105). My review of the literature on servant leadership has revealed 64 different characteristics identified as pertaining to servant leadership.

14 Primary Characteristics Contrary to efforts of other researchers to better define servant leadership by listing additional characteristics, I identified characteristics already existing in the literature as primary to servant leadership. Many aspects of servant leadership identified in the literature are not exclusive to servant leadership. They are essential to all forms of effective leadership. However, a number of characteristics are only applicable to servant leadership. Greenleaf (1977) stated that servant leadership "begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead" (p. 13). Greenleaf clearly stated that in servant leadership, service comes before leadership. This aspect is exclusive to servant leadership. Servant leadership is the only form of leadership that places service as its first priority. Because a servant leader serves first, I designated those characteristics of a servant as primary characteristics of servant leadership. In other words, servant leaders must first meet the criteria of a servant before they can meet the criteria of a servant leader. I am not the first researcher to notice the need to differentiate between the characteristics of servant leadership. Farling et al. (1999) distinguished between behavioral and relational components of servant leadership. Russell (2000) differentiated between what he called accompanying and functional attributes. However, he argued that accompanying attributes are "are not secondary in nature; rather, they are complementary and in some areas, prerequisites to effective servant leadership" (p. 7). Sendjaya (2003) classified 101 characteristics into six dimensions and 22 subdimensions (p. 4).

15 Both the teachings and accounts of Jesus's life and Greenleaf s writing put service before leadership. Greenleaf (1997) wrote that a servant leader is to serve first and then by "conscious choice" (p. 13) aspire to lead. The motivational element of servant leadership (i.e., to serve first) portrays a fundamental presupposition which distinguishes the concept from other leadership thoughts. This presupposition forms the mental model of the servant leader, that is the "I serve" as opposed to "I lead" mentality. The primary reason why leaders exist is to serve first, not to lead first. (Sendjaya & Sarros, 2002, p. 60) Sendjaya and Sarros (2002) went on to mistakenly claim that "the servant leader operates on the assumption that T am the leader, therefore I serve' rather than 'I am the leader, therefore I lead'" (p. 60). Sendjaya and Sarros missed the point that the servant leader must serve before he leads. Their explanation is much more suitable for what Greenleaf called the leader first rather than the servant first who is a natural servant. For the servant first, it is not his leadership that leads him or her to serve but rather he serves and then makes a conscious decision to lead. De Pree (1992), former CEO of Herman Miller, gave the following example of service preceding leadership: I arrived at the local tennis club just after the high school students had vacated the locker room. Like chickens, they had not bothered to pick up after themselves. Without thinking too much about it, I gathered up all their towels and put them in the hamper. A friend of mine quietly watched me do this and then asked me a question that I've pondered many times over the years. "Do you pick up towels because you're the president of the company? Or are you the president because you pick up the towels?" (p. 218)

Full document contains 141 pages
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to more clearly define servant leadership by identifying primary characteristics of the phenomenon through a Delphi study. Greenleaf (1977) stated that servant leadership "begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead" (p. 13). Greenleaf clearly stated that in servant leadership, service comes before leadership. Because a servant leader serves first, I designated those characteristics of a servant as the primary characteristics of servant leadership. In order to serve first, a servant leader must first exhibit the primary characteristics and then aspire to lead. Over 100 characteristics of servant leadership have been identified in the literature (Sendjaya, 2003, p. 4). I discuss 64 characteristics identified with servant leadership in the literature. I conducted a Delphi study with experts in the field of servant leadership and, after three rounds, 12 characteristics were identified as primary characteristics of servant leadership. These characteristics include valuing people, humility, listening, trust, caring, integrity, service, empowering, serving others' needs before their own, collaboration, love/unconditional love, and learning.