Servant Leadership: Practices
“Conduct: Behavioral Leadership–Study Abstracts”
by Lloyd Elder, Th.D., adapted from SkillTrack®
1:3 – Charting Your Course
Behavioral Leadership Studies
Summarized by Lloyd Elder
from Organizational Behavior (Kinicki & Kreitner)
The Leadership Experience (Daft) and other research sources
Earliest Behavioral Leadership
In the 1940’s research began to focus on behavior
patterns more than traits (characteristics) concluding that leaders are
made not born. Traits contribute to but can not accurately predict effective
Such research also determined that there is no one-best
leadership style (i.e., behavioral leadership pattern); various were tested
for universal application.
The third major finding is that the effectiveness of any
pattern of leadership behavior depends greatly on the situation at hand.
Behavioral studies focused on the behavior patterns within the situation
rather than leadership traits.
1957 – The Ohio State studies determined that there were
only two independent dimensions of leader behavior: 1) consideration of
group members, and 2) initiating structures to maximize output. Further
research confirmed that there is no one-best leadership style.
1972 – University of Michigan studies sought to identify
differences in effective and ineffective leaders. Two leadership styles
evolved: 1) employee-centered and 2) job-centered (similar to Ohio State
studies). This became the basis of further research.
1977 – Fiedler’s Contingency
One of the oldest and best known models in this research of leadership was
developed by scholar F. E. Fiedler, simply summarized:
Leaders are either task-motivated or relationship-motivated;
based on this a leader has one dominant style and resists changing that
dominant style; “one style fits all.”
Leaders must influence the leadership situation in order
to create a match between the situation and their leadership control; and,
control is a key element.
Three factors contribute favorably to the leader’s
The quality of good relationships between a leader
and followers, including trust.
A high degree of structure for the task to be performed
by the workgroup.
Position power referring to the leader’s direct
ability to influence work.
Although research has mixed assessment of Fiedler’s
model, there has been agreement:
to continue examination of the contingency nature of
leadership; new elements to be assessed.
to affirm that there is no one-best leadership style.
to advise leaders to match their style to the situation.
also other findings have been advanced:
that employee-centered and job-centered are distinct
styles in opposition to one another;
that leadership behavior may be meaningfully performed
by peers in a group, rather than merely by the designated leader;
that within the situation other factors influence
performance, not just workers and tasks.
1970’s – 1980’s–Path-Goal Theory of Leadership
Yet another behavioral/situational leadership theory, similar to Hersey &
Blanchard, contributes to leadership style choices as a servant leader. This
theory, based on personal characteristics of the group members and the task
structure work environment, presents four leadership styles to move along
a path toward a goal: supportive, directive, participative, and achievement-oriented.
1985 – The Management/Leadership Grid developed
by Blake and Mouton was based
on these earlier studies and additional research.
Their Grid has been used by many to present the options
of both leadership styles and tasks. There are two criteria plotted on their
Grid with concern for production as the horizontal axis
and concern for people as the vertical axis. Each is measured
from 1 (low) to 9 (high) and linked to demonstrate five distinct management/leadership
styles; others, of course, are possible.
The Grid has been criticized because it is two-dimensional,
measuring only those two factors. Other studies, including this Congregational
Leadership Grid, seek to enlarge the concept to a third “in-depth”
dimension, enrich it to other leadership findings and leadership styles,
and present the CLGrid as five tools to live out servant leadership.
The 1991 version of the New Managerial Grid
is presented below because it has been enduring and catalytic in the field
of contingency leadership studies. Usually it is examined in the following
order: 1,1; 9,1; 1,9; 5,5 and 9,9; summarized as follows–
1,1 Impoverished Management: Exertion of minimum effort
to get required work done is appropriate to sustain organization membership.
9,1 Authority-Obedience: Efficiency in operations results
from arranging conditions of work in such a way that human elements interfere
to a minimum degree.
1,9 Country Club Management: Thoughtful attention to
needs of people for satisfying relationships leads to a comfortable, friendly
organization atmosphere and work tempo.
5,5 Organization Man Management: Adequate organization
performance is possible through balancing the necessity to get out work
while maintaining morale of people at a satisfactory level.
9,9 Team Management: Work accomplishment is from committed
people; interdependence through a “common stake” in organization
purpose leads to relationship of trust and respect.
Reflection/Assessment/Application of This Grid:
Re-read this abstract and underline or annotate with your thoughts. Look
for ways to strengthen your leadership style(s).
into the Next Millennium”
from Chapter 6 (pp. 369-406) of The Leader’s Handbook
by Peter R. Scholtes, McGraw-Hill, New York, 1998
Prepared by Lloyd Elder
This handbook is highly recommended for its leadership content
value and its user-friendly format. From Scholtes, Chapter 6, I have excerpted
and summarized his understanding of how leaders should behave in this 3rd
Wonderful Leaders (pp.
He describes the behavior of “wonderful leaders” he has known:
respectful of their people, knowledgeable about their business, dedicated
to their customers, and communicated a clear sense of direction and focus.
“Dismal leaders,” on the other hand, live up to their meaning
of “bad day.” Wonderful leaders are known by:
creating and communicating meaning.
- external focus–purpose on the outside of the organization.
- genuine caring about people.
- awareness of the larger context-systems thinking.
- clear, honest communication.
What Is Leadership/Leaders of Systems?
Scholtes, not so much defines as, describes leadership:
What Is Leadership?
There is no formula for leadership. Leadership consists of more than the approaches,
capabilities, and attributes talked about in books such as this.
Leadership is the presence and spirit of the individual who leads and
the relationship created with those who are led. Good leadership accommodates
the needs and values of those who need to be led. Good leadership takes into
account the skills and capabilities of those with whom the leader shares leadership.
Good leadership adapts to the purpose and future needs of the organization.
Leadership is an art, an inner journey, a network of relationships, a mastery
of methods, and much, much more. And because we cannot expect any single heroic
individual to possess all these traits, leadership, ultimately, must be a
- Let the awareness of systems inform the leader’s every plan and direction.
- Lead with purpose; give a reason to expect with vision.
- Lead through required technology and know-how.
- Lead in the workplace with relationship skills, teamwork processes, and
a community atmosphere.
- Lead the social interactions of the enterprise.
- Lead a system of leadership; see to it that leadership occurs throughout
- Lead a flat organization that attaches remuneration to leadership performance–not
promotion in the hierarchy.
Healing Workplaces (pp. 378-384)
According to Scholtes, what are the policies, practices, and environmental factors
that make the workplace a healing and learning place? He describes eight:
- Clear, constant ennobling purpose
- Opportunity and expectation to grow
- Continuous improvement of methods and processes
- Mutual respect and trust among trustworthy adults
- Frequent, trustworthy communication and access to information
- A sense and experience of caring community
- Healthy participation that adds value to better decisions, to inclusive
involvement, and clear expectations.
The work of Tannenbaum and Schmidt (1968) is reported as a foundational study
of the continuum of leadership behavior in management control:
- from bass-centered use of authority.
- to subordinate-centered areas of freedom.
- on their model, others have developed an integrated approach to teamwork
and consensus building.
- The healing leader has what Scholtes calls “workable trust”–a
combined balance of “high-degree of competence” and “high
degree of benevolence.” Other factors already described are also noted.
© 2006 servantleaderstoday.com; hosted and
copyrighted by Lloyd Elder & Associates, Inc.
For full citation of referenced works, see Bibliography/Links at www.servantleaderstoday.com
Adapted by Lloyd Elder, Th.D., Founding Director, Moench Center for Church