Journal of Business Ethics 124 (3):1-12 (2014)

Servant leadership is a leadership philosophy which addresses the concerns of ethics, customer experience, and employee engagement while creating a unique organizational culture where both leaders and followers unite to reach organizational goals without positional or authoritative power. With employees viewed as one of the greatest assets for organizations, maintaining loyal, productive employees while balancing profits becomes a challenge for leaders, and drives the need to understand employee engagement drivers. Thus, the purpose of this study was to qualitatively explore servant leadership from the perspective of employees. Participants were 11 employees from a servant leadership led restaurant who took part in two focus groups. The modified van Kaam method (Moustakas 1994) contributed to data analysis, which examined employee responses for comparison and assessment. Several themes emerged including servant leader experience, servant leader traits, the impact of servant leadership, the application of servant leadership, and limited employee attrition. The themes revealed servant leadership positively influences employee engagement while contributing to employee loyalty to the workplace. Based on the servant leader experience, participants were more committed, built healthy work relationships, and actively participated in achieving organizational goals. Findings are discussed in light of current research and practical applications are provided
Keywords Servant leadership  Employee engagement  Restaurant employees  Customer satisfaction  Loyalty
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Reprint years 2014
DOI 10.1007/s10551-013-1882-0
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