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Article
Publication date: 8 February 2011

Sherry K. Schneider and Winnette M. George

The major purpose of this research is to test the application of two leadership models to a voluntary service club. Servant leadership was predicted to better explain the…

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Abstract

Purpose

The major purpose of this research is to test the application of two leadership models to a voluntary service club. Servant leadership was predicted to better explain the attitudes and commitment of service organization members than transformational leadership. Both leadership styles were hypothesized to be mediated by empowerment.

Design/methodology/approach

At eight clubs of a national voluntary service organization, it was investigated whether transformational and “servant” leadership were positively related to club member satisfaction, commitment and intentions to stay in the club. A sample of 110 participants completed either a printed or an online survey on the leadership style of their current club president and their attitudes toward the club in general. The club presidents completed the leadership surveys.

Findings

While perceptions of transformational leadership and servant leadership styles were highly correlated, servant leadership was identified as a better predictor of the voluntary club members' commitment, satisfaction, and intentions to stay. Club members' perceptions of empowerment mediated the relationship between servant leadership and satisfaction, commitment, and intentions to stay in the volunteer service organizations.

Practical implications

Leaders of service clubs may wish to adopt a servant leader style. These servant leaders may find it practical to provide empowering experiences to encourage volunteers to perform service club activities effectively. More generally, leaders who provide volunteers with positive, meaningful experiences may be able to maintain their interest in their volunteer positions.

Originality/value

It is believed that this is the first paper to compare directly servant versus transformational leadership in a voluntary organization.

Details

Leadership & Organization Development Journal, vol. 32 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-7739

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