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The Servant Leadership Survey: Development and Validation of a Multidimensional Measure

van Dierendonck D, Nuijten I ...see all

Journal of Business Psychology, vol. 26, issue 3 (2011) pp. 249-267

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PURPOSE: The purpose of this paper is to describe the development and validation of a multi-dimensional instrument to measure servant leadership. DESIGN/METHODOLOGY/APPROACH: Based on an extensive literature review and expert judgment, 99 items were formulated. In three steps, using eight samples totaling 1571 persons from The Netherlands and the UK with a diverse occupational background, a combined exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis approach was used. This was followed by an analysis of the criterion-related validity. FINDINGS: The final result is an eight-dimensional measure of 30 items: the eight dimensions being: standing back, forgiveness, courage, empowerment, accountability, authenticity, humility, and stewardship. The internal consistency of the subscales is good. The results show that the Servant Leadership Survey (SLS) has convergent validity with other leadership measures, and also adds unique elements to the leadership field. Evidence for criterion-related validity came from studies relating the eight dimensions to well-being and performance. IMPLICATIONS: With this survey, a valid and reliable instrument to measure the essential elements of servant leadership has been introduced. ORIGINALITY/VALUE: The SLS is the first measure where the underlying factor structure was developed and confirmed across several field studies in two countries. It can be used in future studies to test the underlying premises of servant leadership theory. The SLS provides a clear picture of the key servant leadership qualities and shows where improvements can be made on the individual and organizational level; as such, it may also offer a valuable starting point for training and leadership development.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Empowerment
  • Humility
  • Measurement development
  • Positive organizational behavior
  • Servant leadership

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  • Dirk van Dierendonck

  • Inge Nuijten

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