The effects of servant leadership on follower performance and well-being
: underlying mechanisms, boundary conditions, and the role of training

  • Sven Lohrey

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    Based on a review of the servant leadership, well-being, and performance literatures, the first study develops a research model that examines how and under which conditions servant leadership is related to follower performance and well-being alike. Data was collected from 33 leaders and 86 of their followers working in six organizations. Multilevel moderated mediation analyses revealed that servant leadership was indeed related to eudaimonic well-being and lead-er-rated performance via followers’ positive psychological capital, but that the strength and di-rection of the examined relationships depended on organizational policies and practices promot-ing employee health, and in the case of follower performance on a developmental team climate, shedding light on the importance of the context in which servant leadership takes place. In addi-tion, two more research questions resulted from a review of the training literature, namely how and under which conditions servant leadership can be trained, and whether follower performance and well-being follow from servant leadership enhanced by training. We subsequently designed a servant leadership training and conducted a longitudinal field experiment to examine our sec-ond research question. Analyses were based on data from 38 leaders randomly assigned to a training or control condition, and 91 of their followers in 36 teams. Hierarchical linear modeling results showed that the training, which addressed the knowledge of, attitudes towards, and ability to apply servant leadership, positively affected leader and follower perceptions of servant leader-ship, but in the latter case only when leaders strongly identified with their team. These findings provide causal evidence as to how and when servant leadership can be effectively developed. Fi-nally, the research model of Study 1 was replicated in a third study based on 58 followers in 32 teams drawn from the same population used for Study 2, confirming that follower eudaimonic well-being and leader-rated performance follow from developing servant leadership via increases in psychological capital, and thus establishing the directionality of the examined relationships.
    Date of Award9 Mar 2016
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorYves R Guillaume (Supervisor) & Stephen A Woods (Supervisor)


    • servant leadership
    • well-being
    • performance
    • psychological capital
    • training
    • leadership development
    • leader identification
    • organizational policies and practices
    • team development climate
    • multilevel
    • quasi-experiment

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