Servant Leadership: Operationalising an Oxymoron

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Of the numerous forms of leadership propounded by commentators and scholars, none is as elusive as the servant variety. Although, in general terms, there is agreement that it is focused on followers, rather than leaders, much less clarity surrounds how it might be put into practice. This chapter considers possible approaches to the operationalisation of servant leadership as a school improvement strategy. It begins by examining such features of servant leadership as listening skills and empathy, before putting it into the context of other common leadership styles. Transformational leadership is looked at, as is distributed leadership in both its formal and informal modes, the conclusion being that servant leadership is a potentially valid approach for both principals and those at other levels of a hierarchy: informal teacher leadership is seen as a particularly promising ‘home’ for servant leadership. The chapter ends by proposing that professional learning communities, informed by distributed teacher leadership, offer a solid practical basis for leaders of different types to put the servant style into practice.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEducational Leadership
Subtitle of host publicationContemporary Theories, Principles, and Practices
EditorsDonnie Adams
PublisherSpringer Singapore
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9789819984947
ISBN (Print)9789819984961, 9789819984930
Publication statusPublished - 22 Dec 2023

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