Future Research With regard to future research, it is important to realize there are still some challenges to be met, as indicated by Whetstone (2002), who refers particularly to the following three aspects. First of all, servant leadership theory has a tendency of being too idealistic. Most of the earlier writings are rather normative and prescriptive, especially those referring to con- sultancy, the so-called how-to books. As such, the current trend of empirical descriptive research could not be more welcome. It is encouraging that through the development of several measures the first tests of the underlying mechanisms of servant leadership theory could be conducted. The information in this article may be of use in the selection of the proper measure for future studies. (For further information on this subject, the reader is referred to the framework in Tables 1 and 2.) A multidimensional measure is definitely required for future studies in order to get an in-depth insight into servant leadership. Second, there is concern about the negative connotation of the word servant . This term suggests passivity and indecisiveness and, even more, letting go of power. Managers may dislike the term because it may imply softness and weakness, more appropriate for serving staff than for leaders. One way to tackle this problem may be to focus on the six key char- acteristics identified earlier in this article. It is likely that most, if not all, characteristics are generally recognized by managers as being essential for modern leadership. The third aspect Whetstone (2002) refers to is the risk of manipulation by followers. The positive view on human nature that is embedded in servant leadership theory can also be found in Theory Y on human nature, assuming that people want to take responsibility and want to be self-directed. An exclusive use of this view by leaders can tempt followers who are aware that people also behave according to Theory X, the assumption that people try to avoid work and dislike responsibility (Bowie, 2000a). It is, therefore, important to realize that providing direction is definitely a key behavioral characteristic of servant leadership and that the
1252 Journal of Management / July 2011 motivation to lead is an antecedent together with the need to serve. Both emphasize the leading role of servant-leaders. To further develop the field of servant leadership, the following steps need to be taken with respect to its measurement (inspired by the exchange between Antonakis, Ashkanasy, & Dasborough, 2009): (1) Work with a measure that has demonstrated construct validity. Given the broadness of the theory, a multidimensional measure will be essential. Only two of the presently available measures show a stable factor structure across multiple samples and cover (most of) the terrain described by the key servant leadership characteristics: Liden et al. (2008) and Van Dierendonck and Nuijten (in press). (2) More research is needed to study the discriminant and convergent validity of these measures. One could question the
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