This dissertation bridges the conceptual thinking on servant-leadership and academic data-driven leadership research. It offers a definition, a multidimensional measure and empirical evidence for the effects of servant-leadership. The literature study suggests that servant-leadership is ethical and different from other types of leadership in that servant-leaders put others’ interests first. The dissertation shows that servant-leadership behavior can be differentiated into two core dimensions: ‘serving’ (standing back, humility, authenticity, forgiveness), and ‘leading’ (empowerment, stewardship, accountability, courage). Conceptual thinking on servant-leadership suggests that individuals become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, and more likely to become servants themselves as a result of being led in a servant manner. Furthermore, servant-leadership has been proposed to have a positive effect on trust and business success. This dissertation provides empirical evidence that servant-leadership is positively associated with follower well-being, team performance and trust. Specifically, two studies positively related servant-leadership to well-being as measured with the three basic psychological needs from self-determination theory: autonomy, relatedness, and competence. Another study provided support for the existence of a positive link between servant-leadership (i.e., standing back, empowerment, and humility) and employee performance (over time and overall). A final study proved organization-based self-esteem has differential effects on the relationship between servant-leadership and trust. In sum, the present research offers a multidimensional measure for servant-leadership and suggests that servant-leadership is useful in that it can benefit follower well-being, team performance, and trust.

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Rotterdam School of Management (RSM) Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) Copromotor: Dr. D. van Dierendonck Prof.dr. D. De Cremer Prof.dr. M. Kaptein Prof.dr. A. Nauta
D.L. van Knippenberg (Daan)
Erasmus University Rotterdam , Erasmus Research Institute of Management
ERIM Ph.D. Series Research in Management
Erasmus Research Institute of Management

Nuijten, I. (2009, December 8). Servant-Leadership: Paradox or Diamond in the Rough? A Multidimensional Measure and Empirical Evidence (No. EPS-2009-183-ORG). ERIM Ph.D. Series Research in Management. Retrieved from

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