Date of Conferral
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
Greenleaf's servant leadership model has been described as an innovative vision in which the leader performs duties of service as the focal point of a mission for social change. Although the servant leadership model has been widely implemented in business and religious organizations, its effectiveness in educational settings has not yet been widely explored. Therefore, the purpose of this explanatory correlational study was to examine the prevalence and effectiveness of servant leadership among a random sample of 156 of New Jersey's school superintendents. Subjects completed the Self-Assessment of Servant Leadership (SASL) and the Leadership Practice Inventory (LPI) that assesses 5 functional attributes of best practice leadership including modeling, inspiring, challenging, enabling and encouraging. A median split of raw SASL scores created a dichotomous classification as servant or non-servant leaders which was employed in chi-square analysis that demonstrated no significant links connecting SASL classification with gender, ethnicity, academic degree or experience in education or administration. However, independent sample t-tests revealed that servant leaders demonstrated significantly more best-practice decision-making across all 5 LPI attributes than were observed for non-servant leaders. These results led to the conclusion that the servant leadership model aligns well with the role of the school superintendent, and that servant leaders may possess advantageous characteristics that allow them to facilitate systemic reforms in organizations. This study represents an important contribution to the existing literature and can enhance social change initiatives by informing the professional development of educational leaders that will ultimately benefit student achievement.