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The well-being of servant leaders: A mixed methods study of career success among the underserved

Michael Joseph Huckabee, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The purpose of this study was to determine if an attitude of servant leadership was found in leaders who were personally satisfied in careers working with underserved populations as compared to leaders in other locales. An explanatory mixed methods design was used which involved collecting quantitative data followed by a qualitative inquiry to explain the quantitative data in more depth. ^ The primary research question was: Is there a high level of subjective well-being in servant leaders who are committed to working in underserved environments? The research questions addressed the relationships between leaders who self-reported an adherence to servant leadership factors and their success as measured by subjective well-being. ^ The context for this study was related to health care and the leaders studied were physician assistants. Five attributes of servant leadership, altruistic calling, emotional healing, wisdom, persuasive mapping, and organizational stewardship were tested separately to determine any correlations with two measures of subjective well-being (self-efficacy and life scheme). Interviews were held with selected leaders to explore their lived-experience. ^ The results demonstrated that individuals with attitudes consistent with servant leadership factors also have a high level of subjective well-being. These levels of servant leadership and career success were not unique to leaders in underserved populations. The qualitative interviews found motivational factors for leaders in underserved environments and included receiving professional respect, opportunities to care for patients, and benefits that give priority to the family. Financial compensation was not an independent motivational factor. Gender of the servant leader may play a role in the effectiveness of the leader in specific environments (e.g., in corrections facilities or when concerns are gender-specific), but did not hinder the overall success of the servant leader. Access to technology was sufficient and did not diminish the leader's perception of his or her success. ^ The level of servant leadership factors associated with the physician assistant population supports the value of this leadership style in effective health care in both medically-underserved and other locales. ^

Subject Area

Health Sciences, Medicine and Surgery|Sociology, Industrial and Labor Relations|Sociology, Organizational

Recommended Citation

Huckabee, Michael Joseph, "The well-being of servant leaders: A mixed methods study of career success among the underserved" (2008). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3304202.