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Motivating language as a mediator between servant leadership and employee outcomes

Sandra Gutierrez-Wirsching (Division of International Business & Technology Studies, Texas A&M International University, Laredo, Texas, USA)
Jacqueline Mayfield (Division of International Business & Technology Studies, Texas A&M International University, Laredo, Texas, USA)
Milton Mayfield (Division of International Business & Technology Studies, Texas A&M International University, Laredo, Texas, USA)
Wei Wang (Division of International Business & Technology Studies, Texas A&M International University, Laredo, Texas, USA)

Management Research Review

ISSN: 2040-8269

Article publication date: 14 December 2015

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to propose motivating language as a mediator to increase the positive effects of servant leadership on subordinates’ outcomes. The authors propose that motivating language acts as a mediator to transmit servant leadership traits and enhances the positive impact that servant leadership verbal behavior has on employees’ performance.

Design/methodology/approach

By developing a conceptual model, the authors propose a connection between servant leadership and motivating language.

Findings

In the proposed model, motivating language acts as a full and a partial mediator. The authors further categorize three distinct outcome sets that should be improved from this relationship. The first set includes improved worker performance, job satisfaction, absenteeism and worker innovation. The second set is composed of self-efficacy, organizational citizenship behavior and employee commitment. Finally, the third set includes trust, satisfaction with the leader and inspiration to become servant leaders.

Research limitations/implications

Empirical research needs to be conducted to test this model.

Practical implications

The positive effects of servant leadership through the use of motivating language could be operationalized in multiple ways. First, potential servant leaders could take the well-established, reliable and valid motivating language scale to diagnostically identify their leader-member communication strengths and weaknesses. Then, tailored motivating language trainings could be implemented which target motivating language weaknesses and key strategic outcomes in the proposed model. Furthermore, motivating language training would be a valuable instrument for transmission of a servant leadership culture.

Social implications

Servant leadership style responds to the demand for positive ethical behavior that is much needed during these times when emphasis is given to profitability and lack of concern for people is the norm rather than the exception. It is also synchronized with the current benefits of organizational citizenship behaviors that have recently emerged in the field of managerial research.

Originality/value

This paper aims at addressing a gap in the literature by developing a model of how leader strategic language, namely, motivating language, mediates between servant leadership and worker outcomes.

Keywords

Citation

Gutierrez-Wirsching, S., Mayfield, J., Mayfield, M. and Wang, W. (2015), "Motivating language as a mediator between servant leadership and employee outcomes", Management Research Review, Vol. 38 No. 12, pp. 1234-1250. https://doi.org/10.1108/MRR-01-2014-0009

Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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