Servant leaders inspire servant followers: Antecedents and outcomes for employees and the organization
Despite widespread adoption of servant leadership, we are only beginning to understand its true utility across multiple organizational levels. Our purpose was to test the relationship between personality, servant leadership, and critical follower and organizational outcomes. Using a social influence framework, we proposed that leader agreeableness and extraversion affect follower perceptions of servant leadership. In turn, servant leaders ignite a cycle of service by role-modeling servant behavior that is then mirrored through coworker helping behavior and high-quality customer service, as well as reciprocated through decreased withdrawal. Using a multilevel, multi-source model, we surveyed 224 stores of a U.S. retail organization, including 425 followers, 110 store managers, and 40 regional managers. Leader agreeableness was positively and extraversion was negatively related to servant leadership, which was associated with decreased follower turnover intentions and disengagement. At the group-level, service climate mediated the effects of servant leadership on follower turnover intentions, helping and sales behavior.