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The role of servant leadership in fostering inclusive organizations

George Gotsis (Department of History and Philosophy of Science, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens, Greece)
Katerina Grimani (Department of History and Philosophy of Science, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens, Greece)

Journal of Management Development

ISSN: 0262-1711

Article publication date: 12 September 2016




The purpose of this paper is to provide an integrative framework of servant leadership and employees’ perception of inclusion. The authors argue that servant leadership embodies an inclusive leadership philosophy that is in a position to facilitate feelings of belongingness and uniqueness among diverse employees.


A theoretical model capturing the effect of servant leadership in shaping climates for inclusion, is developed. The authors elaborate on research streams focussing on climates for inclusion, and examine servant leadership as a potential predictor of inclusion. In this respect, the authors posit that inclusive practices mediate the servant leadership and inclusion relationship, while leaders’ inclusiveness beliefs moderate the servant leadership and inclusive practices relationship.


The model introduces mediating mechanisms that intervene in the indirect relationship between servant leadership and climates for inclusion. In so doing, the authors seek to identify how organizational practices supported through servant leadership behaviors address employee needs for belongingness and uniqueness. The model predicts multi-level beneficial outcomes for social identity groups.

Practical implications

The paper identifies a bundle of organizational practices facilitating employees’ perceptions of inclusion, by placing an emphasis on how servant leaders can enact and implement practices in view of attaining inclusiveness pursuits.

Social implications

Servant leadership is inclusive by empowering diverse employees and fostering equitable and more humane workplaces, as well as by being more sensitive to various societal expectations.


The paper is intended to explore precisely how servant leadership can help inclusive ideals to thrive in diverse work environments.



Gotsis, G. and Grimani, K. (2016), "The role of servant leadership in fostering inclusive organizations", Journal of Management Development, Vol. 35 No. 8, pp. 985-1010.



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Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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