Review Of The Literature “Role Of Servant Leadership On Organizational Commitment: An Exploratory Survey Of State Corporations In Kenya”
Though servant leadership has been well researched and proposed to play an important leadership role to influence an employee's decision to remain with or leave an Organization in the modern day era.
Capt. Sam Addaih (Rtd.) in his article servant leadership revisited published in the Ghanaian Times posited that Greenleaf classically believes that the servant-leader is servant first. According to the author, Becoming a servant-leader begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. “That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or acquire material possession”.
His article in the Ghanaian times raised further awareness. According to him, the leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them are the shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature. The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant first to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served.
For instance, the aim of Dr Ken Blanchard, of Blanchard Training & Development to philosophically embrace the servant-leadership dogma has always been to encourage managers to move from the traditional direct, control, and supervise approach to the roles of cheerleader, encourager, listener, and facilitator.
In the past, managers have emphasized judgment, criticism, and evaluation rather than providing the support and encouragement that people need to be their best.
A Misunderstanding About Servant-Leadership
This is a misunderstanding about servant-leadership that Dr Blanchard attempts to clear up. He believes that when managers hear the term, their assumption is that managers should be working for their people, who would be deciding what to do, when to do it, and how to do it.
If that is what servant-leadership is all about, then it doesn’t sound like leadership to most managers. “It sounds like the inmates running the prison.” But is that possible?
In rectifying the fallacy, he postulates that leadership has two aspects: a visionary part and an implementation part. In terms of organizational commitment this where employees are interested. Some people say that leadership is really the visionary role (doing the right thing), and management is the implementation role (doing things right). But do servant leaders focused on implementation to have impact on employee organizational commitment?
I believed that rather than getting caught in the leadership versus management debate, perhaps it is better to think of these both as leadership roles. Leadership is an influence process in which you try to help people accomplish goals. According to Captain Sam (rtd) good leadership starts with a visionary role.
This involves not only goal setting but also establishing a clear picture of perfection – what the operation would look like when it was running effectively. In other words, leadership starts with a sense of direction.
“A river without banks is a large puddle.” The banks permit the river to flow; they give direction to the river. Leadership is all about going somewhere; it is not about wandering around aimlessly.
Servant Leadership on Organizational Commitment in Ghana
Today, politicians such as Carlos Ahenkorah in Ghana promised his followers ‘servant leadership”, but whether this type of leadership would have impact in the political circle needs more research.
In Ghana, where employees’ sometimes can take things for granted, I believed adopting servant leadership in some organizations could be suicidal. I believe adopting servant leadership as a religious leader is the way to go! For example, Bishop George Adjeman, General Overseer of Winners Chapel Ghana urged religious leadership to adopt this type of leadership (Ghanaweb)
According to PA Anglaaere 2017, Servant leadership is well documented and understood in southern Ghana within the context of missionary training and missions. I believed that, no one ‘size fit’ all in leadership as servant leadership is also imperfect! Territorial or jurisdictional employees’ behavior is also another thing to consider as a manager to adopt the type of leadership.
Interestingly, the authors of this paper also focused on the role of servant leadership in Kenya jurisdiction which I believed, servant leadership could be more favorable in Kenya settings and not Ghana. Diverse factors could account for these disparities where servant leadership could be more favorable in Kenya compared to Ghana on organizational commitment: cultural differences, employee mindset, Manager to employees’ relationship, Attitudinal challenges etc.
I also believed that in Ghana, employee loyalty and commitment is not 100% tied to being a servant leader. The argument raised by the study authors where studies have indicated that one of the challenges facing state corporations in Kenya is the issue of commitment also pertains to Ghana. Employees in these countries work only within the working hours and consider any work outside these working hours to be none of their concern or their responsibility. In fact, this tells you that employees are more interested in the remuneration or what they stand to get at the end of the day and not the specific type of leadership the manager deployed.
I would want to see more research conducted in West Africa, on the relationship between servant leadership on organizational commitment. Governmental agencies or private businesses play a key role in the social and economic growth and it is important to secure the commitment of the employees for enhanced productivity.
Organizational commitment: Challenge is Implementation?
According to Captain Sam, Most organizations and managers get in trouble in the implementation phase of the leadership process. The traditional pyramid is kept alive and well. When that happens, who do people work for? The person above them. The minute you think you work for the person above you for implementation, you are assuming that person – your boss – is responsible, and your job is being responsive to that boss and to his or her whims and wishes.
As a result, all the energy in the organization is moving up the hierarchy, away from customers and the frontline people who are closest to the action. Organization people often believe that the worst thing that can happen to them is to lose a boss, particularly one that they have sized and figured out. Because now they have to figure out a new boss and they likes and wants. People think their profession depends solely on the quality of their relationship with their boss.
As a result, the most important people in your organization – those individuals who have contact with your customers – spend all their time looking over their shoulder trying to figure out what their boss wants rather than focusing on the needs of the customer.
Though the author’s researched posits the impact of servant leadership on organizational commitment. I would rather propose a more integrative leadership for the Ghanaian context. For example, another study (Njoroge et al 2015) in Kenya this time with the aim to determine the effect of integrative leadership style on organizational commitment as moderated by employee participation in technical institutions in Kenya. Findings showed that employee participation has a moderating effect on the relationship between integrative leadership style and organizational commitment. In addition, employee’s participation was found to moderate the relationship between integrative leadership and affective and normative commitment. Employee participation did not moderate the relationship between integrative leadership and continuance commitment. Employee participation did not moderate the relationship between individual leadership styles and organizational commitment and its three dimensions.
Also, The Full Range Leadership Theory (FRLT) developed by Bass and Avolio (2007) evolved from Bass’s transactional/transformational theory. FRLT views leadership style as an integrative multidimensional construct comprising of transformational leadership factors, transactional leadership factors and laissez-faire leadership or absence of leadership.
A study made by Bass (1990) shows that 45% to 65% of the total factors causing success or failure of the organizations is decided by leaders (Wu, Fey & Wu, 2006). In a study conducted in Pakistan (Bushra, Usman & Naveed, 2011), statistical findings suggest that transformational leadership positively relates with organizational commitment of the sampled employees. Transformational leadership brings 16% change in organizational commitment which exhibits a positive and moderate relationship between transformational leadership and organizational commitment.
Ahmadi et al. (2012) reported that transactional leadership style is of direct and positive relationship with the affective commitment, continuance commitment and normative commitment. The overall results of the Iranian study showed that transactional leadership has a positive and direct relationship with organizational commitment variable.
Organizational commitment is an attitude reflecting employees’ loyalty to their organization and is an ongoing process through which organizational participants express their concern for the organization and its continued success and well-being (Luthans, 2007). Organizational commitment is essential for retaining and attracting well qualified workers as only satisfied and committed workers will be willing to continue their association with the organization and make considerable effort towards achieving its goals (Nagar, 2012). Organizational commitment directly affects employees’ performance and is therefore treated as an issue of great importance (Jaramillo, Mulki & Marshal, 2005).
I believed that in Ghana and West Africa sub region, organization commitment is paramount and social exchange or remunerations supersede being a servant leader and therefore it is time to adopt integrative approach to leadership and not merely adopting single style of leadership. I also believe servant leadership is an idle one for the church setting.
So for organizational commitment, I believed the social exchange triumph compared to the servant leadership theory. Social exchange theory obviously explains more what employee is expecting from their organization which is the reality. The Ghanaian worker is found of industrial action threats all in the name of remunerations. So kipkebut, 2010 was right with their employment relationship as consisting of exchanges both social and economic. In 1964, according to Blau Employees are motivated and are more likely to increase their performance when they perceive that their employment relationship is based on a fair social exchange. The idea of reciprocation originated withBlau (1964), who suggested that the partners to the exchange will strive to maintain balanced relationships of social exchange. Employees will take action to restore negative imbalances (Robinson, 1996). For example, several studies have reported that employees reciprocate the fulfillment of employer promises by adjusting the perceived employee obligations to employer (Coyle-Shapiro & Kessler, 2002; Robinson, 1996).
So Servant leadership first proposed by Greenleaf (1970) that advocates that a leader’s primary motivation and role is service to others. Though democratic, in this context of organizational commitment in Ghanaian working situation is outside the bar. In the Ghanaian economy, the servant leader can exhibit all the traits: humility, unselfishness, vision, trusts etc. but once remuneration is not there, there is problem with organizational commitment. This is why Ghanaians want to see money flowing in their economy at the expense of the government of the day exhibiting servant leadership traits with nothing to go home with, they will vote you out!
So Dr. Blanchard believes that one way to correct this situation is by turning the pyramid upside down when it comes to implementation and giving your customer-contact people responsibility. Remember, the word responsible means “able to respond.”
When you turn a pyramid upside down philosophically, who works for whom when it comes to implementation? You work for your people. This one change, although it seems minor, makes a major difference. The difference is between who is responsible and who is responsive. With the traditional pyramid,, the boss is always responsible, and the staff are supposed to be responsive to the boss.
When you turn the pyramid upside down those roles get reversed. Your people become responsible and the job of management is to be responsive to their people. That creates a different environment for implementation. If you work for your people, what is the purpose of being a manager?
To help them accomplish their goals. Your job is to help them win. Every manager works for his or her people. It is in relation to this responsive, serving role that the effective manager now encourages, supports, coaches, facilitates, and does everything possible to help his or her people be successful. This is where servant-leadership really takes over. Leadership and employee participation are foundations of organizational commitment.
Future research areas
- There is need to do research on the effect of servant leadership on organizational commitment in their Ghanaian context.
- Research should be conducted on effect of the components of servant leadership styles on organizational commitment.
- In order to generalize these results, future research should focus on other areas such as educational institutions as well as sectors outside the state corporations.
- Further research should be conducted more on the moderating effect of employee participation on the relationship between servant leadership and organizational commitment.
Raphael Nyarkotey Obu: Mini-MBA (Leadership & Management)-Accra Business School
- Servant Leadership Revisited (To be accessed at http://www.ghanaiantimes.com.gh/servant-leadership-revisited/
- I'll provide 'servant leadership' available at https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/.../I-ll-provide-servant-leadership-Ahen
- Religious leaders urged to practice servant leadership to be accessed at https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/.../Religious-leaders-urged-to-practice-s
- PA Anglaaere( 2017) Exploring Servant Leadership within a Northern Ghana Dagara ...scholarworks.waldenu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=4846&context=dissertations
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- Albion, M. J., & Gagliardi, R. E. (2007). A Study of Transformational Leadership, Organizational Change and Job Satisfaction. Retrieved from http://eprints.usq.edu.au/3098/1/Albion_Gagliardi.pdf
Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Raphael Nyarkotey Obu and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana.