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Servant Leadership in School Administration Essay

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Updated: Jan 14th, 2020


To govern any organization, a person should be aware of the principles of the process and means of conducting manipulation over other people. Referencing the servant leadership, it is important to understand the main idea of the concept and refer to the appropriateness of using this system at school. Leadership is defined as an ability to influence people in achieving specific goals.

A servant is a person who should serve others in their desired. Being opposing term, these issues have been united under servant leadership which is considered to be the style of work organization when a leader is aimed at serving those who he/she tries to lead (Barnabas, Joseph, & Clifford, 2010, p. 2).

The main purpose of this research paper is to consider the main idea of leadership at school and servant leadership in general and conclude whether there is a correlation between the two. Coming out of this statement, it is possible to state the hypothesis that the servant leadership is a concept which can be affectively applied at school and used by school administrators as school leadership and servant leadership go together.

Literature Review

Even though the notion “servant leadership” was derived in 1970, the issue has not been researched up to the end. Neither the usefulness, not the places where the issue may be applied has been researched. Some scholars have tried to conduct different kinds of research related to servant leadership in different spheres of community organizations, including education.

Thus, one of the indirect conclusions was drawn by Reed, Smith, & Beekley (1997), who stated that servant leadership emphasizes “the relationships rather than symbolic or technical aspects” (p. 38). This offers a hint that this strategy may be used in education where relationships are crucial for successful learning process. The influence of difference variables on servant leadership and its implementation has been researched.

The conclusions have been drawn that domicile, socioeconomic status, age and level of education are the variables which influence the behavior of people under the influence of servant leadership, while the gender impact has not been noticed (McCuddy, & Cavin, 2009).

The research conducted by Taylor, Martin, Hutchinson, & Jinks (2007) assures that “to have a vision and to share is with the followers the leader must first be an example of effective leadership so others will model themselves ion that behavior” (p. 416). In other words, if to apply the school administration, a teacher should be a role model for students.

A leader should understand his/her personal abilities and the needs of the students who he/she guides. Tate (2003) identifies listening, communication of understanding, that awareness of motives, personality characteristics, leaders’ management style, and self-awareness as key factors for servant leadership at school. Punnachet (2009) tried to refer the principles of servant leadership to Catholic school.

The conclusions of the research show that the principles of this theory stated by Greenleaf cannot be fully covered in Catholic schools that create some doubts in cultural and religious neutrality of servant leadership.

However, the research conducted by Black (2010) shows that the use of servant leadership in Catholic school helps create positive climate among students. Crippen (2006) has offered the possibilities how servant leadership might be introduced in school teaching.

Eight possibilities have been offered, like study groups which are aimed at analyzing Greenleaf’s The Servant as Leader, using 10 characteristics for staff guiding, as the basic rules for school administrators, as the means for settling conflicts, as a development for teaching, as a resource for teachers, as a philosophy for building school leadership, and as a component for reading at pedagogical universities (Crippen, 2006, p. 17).

Still, the author of the research does not offer the ways how these initiatives may be introduced to the educational process.


Having the purpose to identify the correlation between school leadership and servant leadership, it is necessary to conduct a qualitative research aimed at imposing the principles of servant leaderships into school leadership and make conclusions about their correspondence and specific relation.

There are ten dimensions of the servant leadership, “listening”, “empathy”, “healing”, “awareness”, “persuasion”, “conceptualization”, “foresight”, “stewardship”, “growth”, and “building community” (Hays, 2008, p. 117).

Having defined school leadership as the process directed at students with the purpose to achieve the educational aims, 10 teachers were asked to characterize the educational process from the point of view of this definition and 10 dimensions of servant leadership.

Teachers should read carefully the main idea of each dimension and then state whether it has the relation to the process they are involved into or not. Teachers are offered the following scheme for assessment:

0 – does not relate to school leadership

1 – has indirect relation

2 – has direct relation but in rare cases (individualized and specific cases)

3 – has direct relation

4 – has strong influence on school leadership

5 – educational process is impossible without this characteristic

The participants for the research have been randomly chosen from different schools without specific relation to gender and age. The main conditions are the length of teaching experience should be minimum 10 years and the positive requirements from teachers and students.

The research has been provided in a form of a questionnaire where teaches have been offered to rate the involvement 10 servant leadership dimensions in the educational process. Subjects have not been restricted by any specific conditions. They have just to answer the questions according to their personal considerations and on the basis of the practical experience of working at school.

Limitations and strengths

One of the main limitations of the method is the personal judgment. The results are not based on the technical results, so it is impossible to point to the objectivity is the results. Still, personal consideration of the process is really important. The number of subjects is also a limitation as it is impossible to point to the large-scale participation.

At the same time, the involvement of teachers from different schools may help us deviate from the connection with the specific managerial peculiarities which might exist at a particular educational establishment.

Age and gender indifference may also become an obstacle on the way for results objectivity as these options may influence the understanding of school leadership and the perception of innovative approaches in educational process.


T 1 T 2 T 3 T 4 T 5 T 6 T 7 T 8 T 9 T 10
Listening 5 5 5 4 4 5 5 5 5 4
Empathy 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5
Healing 4 5 5 3 4 4 3 3 4 3
Awareness 4 5 4 5 4 4 5 5 5 5
Persuasion 4 4 4 4 4 5 5 4 4 4
Conceptualization 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4
Foresight 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5
Stewardship 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5
Growth 4 4 4 4 5 5 5 4 5 5
Building community 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5

The results of the questionnaire show that most of the dimensions of servant leadership are inevitable on the school leadership. Thus, the leadership in school is impossible without such options which characterize servant leadership as empathy, foresight, stewardship and building community. All the subjects of the experiment rated this dimension as 5 points (educational process is impossible without this characteristic).

The lowest grade received healing (3.8 points), which means that most of the participants believe that this variable has strong influence on school leadership, and some believe that the influence is lower and have characterized it as just direct. Conceptualization has strong influence on school leadership according to teachers’ opinion (4 points).

Persuasion is evaluated as more relevant for school leadership that conceptualization (4.2 points). Growth, awareness and listening have got the following rates, 4.5, 4.6, 4.7 respectively, that means that some teacher think that this variable has strong influence on school leadership, while more than a half of respondents are sure that leadership at school is impossible without those dimensions.


Before getting down to the discussion, it is worth mentioning that the results do not show whether the specific school meets those requirements, it just identifies the fact whether the mentioned dimensions are the part of the school leadership or not. The definitions of each variable have been offered to the subjects and have the following meaning. Listening should be active, without biased perception, with open heart and mind.

Empathy is characterized as the possibility to understand the problem. Healing is a feature which shows the care of the students, the desire to help and to serve. Awareness means to know everything what happens in the environment. Persuasion does not mean to push, it means to pull. In other words, students are not forced, but encouraged to do something.

Conceptualization is a notion which highlights the possibility to see both the trees and the forest, the whole picture as well as the components which help create this picture. Foresight is a variable which involves planning, prediction and thinking ahead of the problem solutions. Stewardship means to bear the responsibility for those who have been lead in the process of leadership.

Growth involves personal learning and development during the process of leading others. Building community is a creation of a group which tries to reach the same goals and follows similar ideals (Hays, 2008).

Coming out of the received results, it may be concluded that school leadership goers together with servant leadership, but most people involved in the teaching process do not understand it up to the end. The involvement of the servant leadership in the teaching progress as the specific model may be considered as the best way for improving educational process in general.

If a school administration uses the characteristic features of servant leadership as the basis for teachers’ behavior, students will have a higher desire to study. The leadership will be improved and students will look at a teacher as not on a person who gives them knowledge, but as on a person they want to look like in the desire to know more and behave better.

School leadership is based on the principle of authority in most cases. Servant leadership does not reject this principle in general, it just offers better ways for achieving the goals stated by the educational system.

Servant leadership offers a structured approach to the system of teaching and increases the leadership possibilities in general. Having specific goals, teachers are predicted to achieve them faster, while being imposed by the servant leadership characteristics, students are predicted to achieve better results.

The leadership in school has already been studied and the results are promising. The better leadership is observed, the higher students’ performance is. Servant leadership offers better options for performing the same function of education, which may result in better quality of teaching.

Conclusion and Recommendations

Thus, it may be concluded that the theory of servant leadership goes together with school leadership and should be applied by school administrators as the approach for improving the teaching effectiveness.

Servant leadership is a philosophy which has a number of benefits in the comparison with leadership is general, as servant leadership involves more dimensions which are closely connected with each other and have specific goals in the system. The applying of servant leadership in the school process is a good idea as being wider notion, servant leadership comprises the issues considered within school leadership.

Much research may be conducted in the similar field. It can be useful to conduct a research with the purpose to understand the level of priority of servant leadership in the comparison with school leadership. The advantages and disadvantages of servant leadership at school may be measured. Moreover, the ways for implementation of servant leadership into the school education process may be offered and tested.

Reference List

Barnabas, A., Joseph, A. D., & Clifford, P. (2010). The Need for Awareness of Servant Leadership in Business Schools. Academic Leadership (15337812), 8(2), 1-6. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Black, G. (2010). Correlational Analysis of Servant Leadership and School Climate. Catholic Education: A Journal of Inquiry & Practice, 13(4), 437-466. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Crippen, C. (2006). Servant-Leadership. International Journal of Learning, 13(1), 13-18. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Hays, J. (2008). Teacher as Servant Applications of Greenleaf’s Servant Leadership in Higher Education. Journal of Global Business Issues, 2(1), 113-134. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

McCuddy, M. K., & Cavin, M. C. (2009). THE DEMOGRAPHIC CONTEXT OF SERVANT LEADERSHIP. Journal of the Academy of Business & Economics, 9(2), 129-139. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Punnachet, T. (2009). Catholic servant-leadership in education: going beyond the secular paradigm. International Studies in Catholic Education, 1(2), 117-134.

Reed, P., Smith, M., & Beekley, C. (1997). An Investigation of Principals’ Leadership Orientations. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Tate, T. F. (2003). Servant Leadership for Schools and Youth Programs. Reclaiming Children & Youth, 12(1), 33-39. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Taylor, T., Martin, B. N., Hutchinson, S., & Jinks, M. (2007). Examination of leadership practices of principals identified as servant leaders. International Journal of Leadership in Education, 10(4), 401-419.

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