Systematically reviewing servant leadership

Katie McQuade, Christian Harrison*, Heather Tarbert

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
288 Downloads (Pure)


The purpose of this paper is to provide a comprehensive overview of the literature concerning servant leadership. The paper identifies the existing themes present within the servant leadership literature. This allows it to determine where the research concerning servant leadership lies at present and make recommendations as to further potential areas for research. It further identifies the skills necessary for servant leadership.

The paper follows a rigorous three step systematic literature review process in order to identify the relevant evidence to answer the research questions. The paper disseminates the results and presents them by way of a descriptive analysis. It also conducts a thematic analysis in order to further determine answers to the research questions.

The paper found that the most prominent themes in the servant leadership literature are values, literature reviews, behaviour, assessments, performance, characteristics and antecedents. Additionally, the paper finds the skills necessary for servant leadership are empathy, listening, communication and trust. The review also identified gaps in the research both methodologically and empirically. It showed that more qualitative research is needed with regards to servant leadership. Furthermore, the development of empirically tested frameworks is necessary within the phenomenon.

Servant leadership is a phenomenon which is lacking in a reliable, validated systematic literature review, which this paper presents. Additionally the originality of this paper lies in its recommendations for further research, which are based upon the findings of a thematic analysis. As of yet, such recommendations have not yet been made within the field of servant leadership.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Business Review
Early online date28 Sep 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Sep 2020


  • servant leadership
  • systematic literature review
  • leadership
  • literature review
  • servant leaders


Dive into the research topics of 'Systematically reviewing servant leadership'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this