The Motivation to Serve as a Corner Stone of Servant Leadership

  • Peter Sun


What motivates a leader to serve? What motivates them to seek the growth and development of others? Graham (Bus Ethics Q 5:43–54, 1995) suggests that servant leaders are at the post-conventional moral stage, and therefore exhibit moral behaviors that incorporate consideration of others. Sun (Leadersh Q 24:544–557, 2013) extends this perspective by suggesting that servant leaders incorporate a well-defined servant identity. This chapter seeks to examine the motivational foundation for servant behaviors by incorporating these ego, moral, identity, and cognitive perspectives. The chapter also challenges our assumption of self-sacrificing altruism, and examines the possibility that leaders can exhibit servant behaviors from a self-serving angle, and such paradoxical co-existence is in fact beneficial for both leaders and their followers.


Servant leadership Self-identity Ego development Leader motivation Paradox 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Sun
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Enterprise & Leadership, Waikato Management SchoolUniversity of WaikatoHamiltonNew Zealand

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