How Servant Leadership and LMX Co-Evolve to Impact Individual and Team-Level Outcomes

Leader-member exchange (LMX) theory describes the quality of unique relationships between leaders and each of their followers.

Graen and Scandura (1987) suggested that LMX relationships advance through three stages: the role taking stage, the role making stage, and the role routinization stage. Most LMX researchers only conduct cross-sectional or cross-lag designs, while few studies actually focus on the within-person processes of LMX development and its influence. Whereas LMX focuses on the dyadic relationship between leader and follower, servant leadership involves leaders who endeavor to bring out the full potential of all followers through empowerment, emotional and tangible support, and modeling of helping, community service, and ethical behaviors. Servant leaders prioritize the needs of followers above their own. The current investigation employs a longitudinal design to better understand the interplay between LMX and servant leadership over time and how these leadership approaches affect individual and team-level outcomes. Data are being collected once each year at a large community park department from more than 250 leader/follower dyads among 35 teams.

What we expect to know from this study:

  • How LMX and servant leadership co-evolve over time.
  • The types of leaders who engage in servant leadership.
  • How servant leadership impacts a range of individual and team level outcomes.
  • How LMX quality influences the relationships between servant leadership and outcomes.

Data collection in process.