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Transformational versus servant leadership: a difference in leader focus

A. Gregory Stone (Graduate School of Business, Regent University, Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA)
Robert F. Russell (Department of Business Administration, Emory and Henry College, Emory, Virginia, USA)
Kathleen Patterson (School of Leadership Studies, Regent University, Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA)

Leadership & Organization Development Journal

ISSN: 0143-7739

Article publication date: 1 June 2004

Abstract

This article examines transformational leadership and servant leadership to determine what similarities and differences exist between the two leadership concepts. The authors posit that the primary difference between transformational leadership and servant leadership is the focus of the leader. The transformational leader's focus is directed toward the organization, and his or her behavior builds follower commitment toward organizational objectives, while the servant leader's focus is on the followers, and the achievement of organizational objectives is a subordinate outcome. The extent to which the leader is able to shift the primary focus of leadership from the organization to the follower is the distinguishing factor in classifying leaders as either transformational or servant leaders. This article also looks at the next stage of developmental issues in servant leadership, such as the challenges facing empirical investigation and measurement, and the changes that are occurring in current thinking about the servant leadership approach. Ultimately, the case is made that although different, both transformational leadership and servant leadership offer the conceptual framework for dynamic leadership.

Keywords

Citation

Gregory Stone, A., Russell, R.F. and Patterson, K. (2004), "Transformational versus servant leadership: a difference in leader focus", Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 25 No. 4, pp. 349-361. https://doi.org/10.1108/01437730410538671

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited