Servant Leadership at the United Way Organization


When it comes to running a business, adopting an effective leadership model is one of the most critical factors. Employees’ needs and empowerment are at the heart of the servant leadership paradigm, and it has become increasingly popular in recent years. Instead of the authoritarian structure of most businesses, the model favours business owners who are concerned about their employee’s well-being and their professional development. Delegating and providing continual support to team members is a manager’s responsibility in a management situation. United Way Canada is among the organizations that use servant leadership in their management. The service provided by United Way Canada helps people find local and specialized community and social benefits that meet their unique requirements. Using servant leadership, the firm impacts people’s lives within the organization and the employees. The paper discusses servant leadership, reasons for not following the approach, and its effects on the United Way organization

Servant Leadership as It Relates to Ethical Altruism

Servant leadership and organizational culture demonstrate altruism as a concern for growth and development without an additional objective for one’s gain. Servant leadership refers to leaders who put people and their organization first (Gandolfi & Stone, 2018). United Way firm ensures that there are no personal motives for such drive but rather a desire to help the company and its employees flourish first and foremost. People’s minds crave a sense of belonging to a tribe, but United Way Company often does not provide it. Servant leadership fills the void by fostering a feeling of social identity in their followers and forming teams that are more comparable to the kinship found in the communities served by the organization (Pawar et al., 2020). A leadership model based on servant leadership may be able to meet the demands of today’s workplace while satisfying the primal need for a sense of community. Since most firms are increasingly adopting servant leadership methods, this could be the reason why a study on servant leadership continues to grow.

United Way serves as an example for others at the top that emphasizes the growth and expansion of followers in many ways. First and foremost, the leadership aims to cultivate followers founded on their leaders’ humane and moral dispositions. People are more involved and creative in their work when the well-being and advancement of their colleagues are given top priority (Gandolfi & Stone, 2018). In the eyes of servant leaders, they are custodians of the organization’s resources, both financial and non-financial. Although they emphasize their followers’ personal development, they do not neglect performance demands (Saleem et al., 2020). Rather than focusing on short-term gains at the expense of society’s long-duration health and well-being, servant leadership emphasizes the importance of long-term health and wellness.

Reasons for Followers not Supporting Servant Leadership Approach

Among the most apparent restrictions of servant leadership is the need for leaders to be ready to surrender the total regulation of their organizations. Traditionally, CEOs make all choices, convey those verdicts to their assistants, and are gifted when the rank-and-file adopt those decisions. This is in direct contrast to United Way firm’s new leadership model (Saleem et al., 2020). When it comes to servant leadership, leaders have to surrender their egos to help others succeed. To be a servant leader, one must give credit to the people for them to go above and beyond expectations (Bauer et al., 2019). Therefore, the disadvantages of servant leadership are that it is complex for business owners ready to behave selflessly in their mission for success.

Servant leadership demotivates employees, leading to subpar work outputs in the long run. (Liao et al., 2021) Employees are less motivated to work hard if a servant leader comes to their aid too frequently. Employees are more likely to take a back seat in their everyday activities if they believe their manager will step in to meet their requirements or settle any issues (Eva et al., 2019). Among the most significant drawbacks of the employer, leadership is decreased work motivation and output.

When discussing the drawbacks of servant leadership, it is essential to remember that prioritizing the needs of the employees first can reduce the absolute authority of the management team. Employees have low chances of perceiving their supervisors as authoritative figures when they see their managers go to extremes to meet their wants (Wu et al., 2021). Servant managers in United Way organization have difficulty taking on a more dominant role when senior management wants their subordinates to drive for improved performance. Businesses cannot just show empathy and understanding without attempting to develop authority that helps distinguish the boss from the employee.

Besides, servant leadership has various issues, including the reality that one size does not fit all. As a result, not every company is a good candidate for this approach. It takes time to shape an operative servant leadership scheme because it requires dedication to training the employees and fostering their professional and personal development (Liao et al., 2021). The lack of stability in a company’s work culture makes it difficult for managers to apply servant leadership, making it less effective. This is primarily true when goodhearted supervisors are more anxious about the feelings of their staff than their necessities. To avoid hurting an employee’s feelings, managers avoid making unpleasant decisions or critiquing their performance (Eva et al., 2019). The challenges of employer leadership must be weighed against the advantages for business owners, who must scrutinize their organizational structure.

Results of Servant Leadership on the Organization, Society, and Followers

Regulatory emphasis plays a controlling function in the impacts of servant leadership on groups’ helping and creative actions. Individuals are predisposed to one of two self-regulation mindsets, such as preventative and promotion emphasis (Khan et al., 2021). Regulatory focus theory emphasizes the need for safety and prompts people to take a more cautious approach to their behaviours, resulting in a prevention focus. On the other hand, requirements for advancement elicit promotion necessity and spur employees to greater levels of creativity and innovation. Promotion-focused persons focus on nurturing dreams and objectives and gains rather than losses more than those who focus on prevention. Despite the trait’s trait-like nature, situations might shift one’s attention from one attribute to another (Karatepe et al., 2019). Therefore, demonstrating which workplace cues might influence an employee’s attentiveness.

Another effect is that organizational commitment could be increased through servant leadership. Khan et al. (2021) depict that servant leadership boosts the confidence, faithfulness, and satisfaction of those led by it. Community support and outreach are fostered via Servant Leader Behaviors. Conceptualization is the first step in the process where it supports the leader look at the comprehensive picture and taking into account the current conditions. It is motionless able to conceive of a solution that observes the company’s values and ethics (Lemoine et al., 2019). It might easily lead to a surge in local support in the right circumstances. Considering a communal problem through United Way company and how it affects everyone in the community, one will realize what conceptualizing is all about (Karatepe et al., 2019). A servant leader would see this situation and feel compelled to assist solve it, or at the very least to get others involved.

A servant leader feels compelled to serve and give back to the community and must encourage others to do the same and educate them on the reputation of giving back and its benefits to the organization and the community. Wu et al. (2021) argue that it builds value for the community, and one will inspire others to do the same. This will help create a never-ending loop of people helping each other and receiving the help they need.

Because a good community leads to a good business, servant leaders highlight the need to serve the community. Leaders who put their followers first and allow them to take the reins, guiding them to make ethical and beneficial decisions for all parties concerned, create an environment where their followers can grow and improve (Lemoine et al., 2019). In the same way that parents raise their children, putting their own needs second to those of their children, servant leaders do the same with their followers. When people act this way, they create a never-ending loop of colonial building bricks that allow them to improve themselves and help the less fortunate (Karatepe et al., 2019). Therefore, servant leadership encourages people to get involved in their communities.


Servant leadership is essential in improving commitment at the personal and organizational levels. It is the type of leadership where people prioritize the needs of others while ignoring their own. Most followers do not consider it because it reduces the authority of the management team. However, servant leadership motivates people to improve their commitment to serving the community and their followers.


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Saleem, F., Zhang, Y. Z., Gopinath, C., & Adeel, A. (2020). Impact of servant leadership on performance: The mediating role of affective and cognitive trust. Sage Open, 10(1), 2158244019900562.

Wu, J., Liden, R. C., Liao, C., & Wayne, S. J. (2021). Does manager servant leadership lead to follower-serving behaviours? It depends on followers self-interest. Journal of Applied Psychology, 106(1), 152.

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