Imagery of Regent people and campus

Dissertation Abstract

The Servant-Led Institution: A Case Study Defining Servant Leadership
in the Not-For-Profit Social Service Organization

Jennifer Johnson Walker
April 2006

This study explored the manner in which servant leadership characteristics as defined by Patterson (2003)—agápao love, humility, altruism, vision, trust, empowerment, and service—are applied and operationalized in a not-for-profit social service organization for the purpose of defining servant leadership in this environment. The research sought to complement the work of Contee-Borders (2003) who developed an operational definition of servant leadership in a for-profit business. Using the case study method, 12 interdependent characteristics were identified that aid in the operationalizability of servant leadership: advocacy, autonomy, caring, freedom, leading by example, humility, love, focus on the mission, mutual respect, service, vision, trust, and empowerment. The definition offered in this work sets the stage for additional research in the area of not-for-profit organizations.