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Impact of Servant Leadership on Employee’s Behavior: Analytical Essay


Due to the interdisciplinary nature of leadership, servant leadership research has found a home in a number of different outlets. Since 2004, research on servant leadership has increasingly been published in high impact factor journals, including Academy of Management Journal and The Leadership Quarterly. Further, top-tier hospitality journals such as Cornell Hospitality Quarterly and International Journal of Hospitality Management have also published multiple works on servant leadership. However, a large number of articles on servant leadership still appear in second tier leadership journals. While an overwhelming majority has been conducted in the business/organizational psychology discipline (n=203), servant leadership has emerged in other disciplines, such as in healthcare (n=15), education (n=10), and hospitality (n=8). Over a period of time, organizations have been assuming dynamic forms to meet the challenges of global developments.

The main drive, in many cases, has been to expand and grow with speed through joint ventures, mergers, and acquisitions. These have resulted because of paradigm shifts in government policies, competitive and growth strategies of organizations, economic liberalization, newer technological developments, increasing market shares, unpredictable price structures, and changing market conditions. Through the process of responding to these factors, organizations have acquired varied experiences, and the thrust has been becoming big in the shortest possible time, and a global player, and achieving the highest levels of self-esteem. Organizations, therefore, have no choice but to become more dynamic, more competitive, and high-performing units. Continuous organizational development through excellence is becoming the goal of all bodies, whether in the public or in the private sector. Positive stories of organizational leaders might highlight leaders who motivate employees to achieve their goals and inspire them to do more than they thought was possible. The negative accounts include stories of leaders who ridicule their employees in public, force employees to endure physical hardships, and promote divisiveness between work groups or individuals. Procrastination usually involves ignoring an unpleasant, but likely more important task, in favor of one that is more enjoyable or easier.

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But giving in to this impulse can have serious consequences. For example, even minor episodes of procrastination can make us feel guilty or ashamed. It can lead to reduced productivity and cause us to miss out on achieving our goals.

If we procrastinate over a long period of time, we can become demotivated and disillusioned with our work, which can lead to depression and even job loss, in extreme cases. Long before the Internet, as we know it today, people have been procrastinating, and for many folks, it isn’t a big deal. But according to research from the American Psychological Association, nearly 20% of US men and women are chronic procrastinators. When that happens, it can have a detrimental effect on their mental health.

If it seems as if procrastination has been around for centuries, it has. Consider some 535 years ago when the Friars of the Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception asked Leonardo da Vinci to create a painting of the Virgin Mary and Christ Child for the altar of their chapel. The artist agreed to have it finished in seven months, but instead, it took him 25 years to completed the project. Although Leonardo da Vinci is considered a Renaissance man, and a genius of art and design, he was, without a doubt, one of the best early procrastinators on record. “Usually procrastination happens because the task seems too difficult,” said A. Chris Heath, MD, a psychiatrist who practices in Texas. “Sometimes the procrastinator thinks he or she won’t do a good job. This is really a self-esteem issue—as if the person is not equipped to carry out the task. Often the person carries some degree of shame or guilt, and they may not even be aware of.

With just enough shame, that it makes that already difficult task seem near impossible. Dr. Heath believes that procrastination is actually a defense mechanism. “Your unconscious mind thinks it is helping you. But it is misguided. So the procrastinator’s mind uses a defense mechanism repression to kind of forget about the task. ‘Oh, there are so many other things I need to do.’ And the procrastinator usually minimizes the amount of time the task will take. This, of course, is the trick our mind plays with us. It hopes the task will go away. Research has revealed that some people with certain types of challenges may also suffer from chronic procrastination. “We have found some links with chronic procrastination and ADHD, people who have passive-aggressive tendencies, seek revenge, have obsessive-compulsive disorder, and other areas,” said Joseph Ferrari, PhD, author of Still Procrastinating: The No Regret Guide to Getting It Done. But let’s remember that while everyone puts off an occasional task, it is the person who does that habitually, always with plausible ‘excuses’ that has issues to address he said.

HR management has emerged as the most important area in any organizations. Effectively managing human resources is the key to success in any organization, and such management is crucial in a fast-changing business environment. Servant leadership theory is based on the fundamental premise that servant leaders are primarily driven by empathy, altruism, and a sense of community stewardship (Chiniara&Bentein, 2016; Greenleaf, 1977), with this ethical imperative driving their deep and unwavering commitment to follower growth, empowerment, and well-being (Liden, Wayne, Zhao, & Henderson, 2008). The premise of SL theory is that by first enabling the fulfillment of followers’ personal ambitions, the achievement of long-term organizational objectives will follow. While the literature has struggled to reach a consensus on the precise definition and measurement of SL (Newman et al., 2017; VanMeter, Chonko, Grisaffe, & Goad, 2016), Organizational behavior scholar Kahn (1990) was credited as the first scholar who explicated engagement. Extending Goffman’s (1961) work on people’s presentation of self, Kahn (1990) developed his conceptualization of “personal engagement” as “the harnessing of organization members’ selves to their work roles; in engagement, people employ and express themselves physically, cognitively, and emotionally during role performances;” and referred to personal disengagement as “the uncoupling of selves from work roles; in disengagement, people withdraw and defend themselves physically, cognitively, or emotionally during role performances” (p. 694). Such expressions of self by employees could take on behavioral, cognitive, and emotional forms.

These different forms of manifestations take place when employees’ three psychological conditions are met (Kahn, 1990, p. 705): meaningfulness or “sense of return on investments of self in role performances,” safety or “sense of being able to show and employ self without fear of negative consequences of self-image, status, or career,” and availability or “sense of possessing the physical, emotional, and psychological resources necessary for investing self in role performances.” In like manner, fellow organizational behavior researcher Saks (2006). Employees can also choose to disengage in the process of role expressions and performance. Somehow we relate this disengagement at work will lead to the procrastination Leaders. To procrastinate is to ‘voluntarily delay an intended course of action despite expecting to be worse off for the delay’ (Steel, 2007, Psychological Bulletin 133(1), 65). This behavior, despite its cost, is common in workplaces and other life domains. By understanding why it occurs and how to prevent it, managers can help optimize the performance and productivity of employees. Procrastination is the deferment of actions or tasks to a later time, or even to infinity. It appears to reflect the human condition because it is presently widespread and has been reported for thousands of years. It is also voluntarily delaying an intended course of action despite the expectation of being worse off. Most companies struggle with employee disengagement. It’s costly in productivity, profitability, and stress. Gallup’s engagement survey data published in 2017 found that 2/3rds of U.S. workers are not engaged. American companies have invested billions of dollars per-year for many years to solve this problem. The results? The needle still hasn’t moved. How much has your experience been similar? Could this data simply reveal a general misunderstanding of the true causes of disengagement?

Goal disengagement consists of changing expectations for goal attainment (Johnson et al., 2006). Such changes can mean that the desired level of goal attainment is lowered or that attainment is no longer expected at any level (i.e., the goal is completely abandoned). For example, a person might devalue the goal of getting a promotion and completely abandon the goal. Alternatively, the aspired goal level might be reduced so that getting promoted to team leader is now the goal versus the previous goal of getting a promotion to area manager. Because work and family goals are often dyadic and small-group goals, goal disengagement also includes re-negotiation with important stakeholders and changing their respective expectations for goal attainment. Apart from changing existing goals, an additional important component of goal disengagement is to establish new goals that better correspond to existing resources and barrier and can be pursued instead of the abandoned goal (Johnson et al., 2006).

This also allows re-directing attention and resources to other goals and helps coping with experienced loss due to abandoning a goal (Wrosch et al., 2003). In sum, the successful use of this strategy entails finding ways to disengage from goals if they are unattainable across work and family roles (including re-negotiating goal expectations with stakeholders) and developing new work and/or family goals that are jointly attainable given current resources and barriers. A key challenge in implanting this strategy is that disengaging from a goal can be accompanied by an internal struggle as to whether one should try to continue to attain the goal or actually revise or even abandon it, which can negatively affect well-being (Brandstätter, Herrmann, & Schüler, 2013). Effects on well-being due to goal disengagement might particularly occur if it is not accompanied by a reengagement in new goals (Wrosch et al., 2003).

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