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How Can Servant Leaders Foster Public Employees’ Service-Oriented Behaviors? A Multilevel Multisource Study in Canadian Libraries
Public Administration Review  (IF5.257),  Pub Date : 2021-07-13, DOI: 10.1111/puar.13416
Kathleen Bentein, Marie-Ève Lapalme, Sylvie Guerrero, Xavier Parent-Rocheleau, Gilles Simard

Servant leadership, a leadership style that focuses on leading by serving, is well suited to supporting frontline employees’ service-oriented behaviors in the public sector. However, we still know little about how servant leaders shape these behaviors in this specific context. Drawing on social learning theory, relational identity, and service linkage research, this article addresses this gap and tests a model in which servant leadership is related to service-oriented behaviors through customer orientation at the individual level and through service climate at the group level. The research hypotheses were tested, using a multilevel model, on a sample of 922 employees, 86 supervisors, and 9,547 citizens nested in 86 Canadian libraries. Results show that servant leaders are associated with high service-oriented behaviors through the ability to strengthen individual customer orientation and service climate. Overall, this article highlights that developing servant leaders may help public organizations reach their goal of serving citizens better.