Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communication, Department of


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A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Human Sciences (Leadership Studies), Under the Supervision of Professor Daniel W. Wheeler. Lincoln, NE: July 2010
Copyright 2010 Curtis D. Beck


The purpose of this mixed methods study was to explore the antecedents of servant leadership. The sequential explanatory research design consisted of two distinct phases: quantitative followed by qualitative.

The Phase One quantitative survey collected data from 499 leaders and 630 raters from community leadership programs in the United States using the Servant Leadership Questionnaire (Barbuto & Wheeler, 2006).

During Phase Two, selected leaders from phase one (N = 12) were interviewed to explain those results in more depth. The data were coded and analyzed for possible themes. Triangulation was used to analyze the quantitative and qualitative data to validate the findings of the data collected.

Six key findings emerged from the data: (a) the longer a leader is in a leadership role, the more frequent the servant leader behaviors; (b) leaders that volunteer at least one hour per week demonstrate higher servant leader behaviors; (c) servant leaders influence others through building trusting relationships; (d) servant leaders demonstrate an altruistic mindset; (e) servant leaders are characterized by interpersonal competence; and (f) a servant leader may not necessarily lead from the front, or the top of the organization.

Practical implications and future directions for leadership research are discussed.

Advisor: Daniel W. Wheeler