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.
By developing a conceptual model, the authors propose a connection between servant leadership and motivating language.
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.
Empirical research needs to be conducted to test this model.
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.
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.
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.
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
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