Creating Sustainable Organizations Through Servant Leadership

By Simon Taylor and Noel Pearse.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Hambrick and Mason (1984) maintain that the dominant coalition of the top management of a business organization has a significant influence on the values and thinking of the organization. Current thinking about strategic leadership recognizes the influence of strategic leaders in shaping and sustaining organizational culture and ethical practices. A key ethical and cultural concern in organizations today is focused on their long-term sustainability. Servant leadership is committed to serving the needs of others and emphasizes the need for stewardship in organizations. It also recognizes the obligation on top management to create sustainable organizational futures. Despite the intuitive linkage, relatively little is known about the influence of a servant leadership approach to the strategic leadership of organizations.

Hilton College is a private, boys-only boarding school located in a rural setting in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands of South Africa. The school is governed by the Hiltonian Society Board of Governors, which has jurisdiction over inter alia, the school, its estate and investments. The aim of this research was to analyze the effects of the Board’s strategic intent to implement servant leadership and in particular its influence on organizational culture and ethical practices within the Hiltonian Society. A case study design was adopted, and the data collected through interviews and documents, and was analyzed thematically using a deductive approach.

The findings explore the relationship between the adoption of a servant leadership approach to strategic leadership and the governance of the Hiltonian Society in line with the principles of the triple bottom line. The paper concludes that even within an educational context, the philosophy of an organization’s top leadership has a key influence on its values, culture and ethical practices. Furthermore, servant leadership would appear to be a fitting leadership philosophy to advance the interests of sustainability in organizations.

Keywords: Leadership, Strategy, Organisational Sustainability, Case Studies

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp.223-234. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.162MB).

Simon Taylor

Assoc. Professor, Rhodes Investec Business School, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa

Dr. Noel Pearse

Rhodes University, South Africa


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