Servant Leadership, Exemplary Followership, and Organizational Trust: A Quantitative Correlational Study in Performing Arts Organizations

Servant Leadership, Exemplary Followership, and Organizational Trust: A Quantitative Correlational Study in Performing Arts Organizations

Author: 
Cheryl D. McAuley
Program of study: 
D.M.
Abstract: 
Nonprofit board members can display a range of leader and follower characteristics when serving in successful organizations. The focus of this research included a strategic look at a particular type of leader and follower. The quantitative, descriptive correlational study was an examination of whether there were relationships between servant leader behavior and organizational trust, and exemplary follower behavior and organizational trust. The purpose of the study was to determine whether servant leader behavior and exemplary follower behavior predicted organizational trust in 12 performing arts nonprofit boards in the Southeast United States (N=96). The key findings from the study included a correlation between servant leader behavior and organizational trust, and no correlation existed between exemplary follower behavior and organizational trust. The results are an indication that most executive board members believed organizational leaders demonstrated servant leader behaviors and organizational trust was high. These findings could be important to artistic leaders, CEOs, or presidents of nonprofit boards. This new research may facilitate examination of leader-follower models in nonprofit organizations, encouraging more high-performing boards. Additional research is necessary to understand the relationships between board members of nonprofit organizations and performing arts nonprofits in particular
Dedication: 
I am dedicating this work to Jesus Christ, the greatest servant leader model. At age 62, I am grateful that God placed exceptional people in my life. They may not have considered themselves servant leaders, but they demonstrated servant leader behaviors and made a positive difference in my quality of life. I am recognizing them below. The late Vaughn Hillgren was my first leader who made me feel like a valued federal employee in 1992 after eight years of government service. I tried to emulate him when I managed people in the federal government and Army Reserves when on two active duty tours in two combat zones, 2004 and 2009. Shawn Dilles was my supervisor at the Pentagon, pre-9/11, from 1998-2000. His motivating and caring spirit towards me has continued for years, even after he moved on to loftier positions in the government. I will never forget that he still believes in me and in my leadership abilities and potential. I first met Bob Slevin as a student in his unique leadership course in September 2003. He continued to remain in touch, even during my first deployment to Djibouti, Africa in January 2004. When I experienced a toxic leadership culture in the federal workplace from 2005-2008, Bob was forever the cheerleader, mentor, and friend through it all. I volunteered for active duty in Baghdad, Iraq from 2009-2010 before I retired. Sadly, I also observed a toxic culture in Iraq. By the grace of God, I accomplished all of my assigned missions and more while learning valuable lessons from all leaders and followers I encountered (including toxic). Bob’s enthusiasm for this dissertation topic is humbling and sincerely appreciated. Reverend Billy Orton is a musical and spiritual leader in the Huntsville, Alabama community. His gift for leading adult volunteers inspired me to investigate this topic. After our relocation from Maryland to Alabama in 2005, he was the first and only person to say to me, “There is a place for you here in Huntsville.” I never forgot his kindness and those words helped sustain me. I value his lifetime friendship. My mother, Shirley Isabelle Williams, said to me when I was a struggling young piano teacher in the 1970s, “You cannot change the world. You can only make a difference for those around you.” She was so correct. Her own diligence as an educator made a difference to countless people whose lives she still inspires. My devoted husband, John, never complained if I was up at 5:30 am or 11:30 pm working on coursework and the dissertation for nearly 4.5 years. We gave up our weekly golf outings as soon as I began the doctoral program because golf would take too much time away from my studies. I look forward to resuming those precious hours with him on any golf course, wherever he wants to play, for as long as we can swing a club! Of all of the wonderful things that happened to me in my life, he is the richest blessing of all. To the many friends, family, and late mother-in-law, Ethel McAuley, who encouraged me even before this program began, I salute you. Other cherished people who believed in me, and who are no longer with us, would have appreciated being remembered at this time. All of you made me a better person and doctoral learner, inspiring me to promote servant leadership while improving my own skills.
Acknowledgements: 
My committee members were relentless in striving for excellence in my work. After second residency June 2013, I asked Dr. James Goes to be my Chair. Later, I learned he had just returned from a Fulbright Fellowship in India and I was fortunate he was available to respond to my request. I am thankful to Claus Poehler, my enrollment advisor and friend, for advocating the dissertation-writing book Dr. Goes co-authored in 2011. Thank you, Dr. Goes, for your valuable time, expertise, and guidance throughout this difficult process. Several professors I met in residencies, webinars, workshops, and online classrooms also enhanced my learning experience and my ability to reflect. I am indebted to the authors of the three surveys in this study for granting permission to use their work, Dr. van Dierendonck, Dr. Nyhan, and Dr. Kelley. Dr. Garland Williams accepted my invitation to serve on my committee in December 2013, after I discovered he was a Dean at University of Phoenix and Vice President of the Military Division. He provided timely, thorough, and scholarly feedback on my writing, and I am proud to have been his first doctoral mentee. His military career as a retired Army Colonel, his dissertation, and his military publications inspired me. In addition, his community volunteer work with veterans exemplifies servant leadership. I first met Dr. Katherine Downey when she taught PHL 717, Constructing Meaning, from January to March 2013. She was an excellent instructor and displayed a passion for philosophy. I found the course difficult and she provided constructive criticism that helped improve my critical thinking and scholarly writing. I read dissertations by students for whom she was a chair, and I never forgot her spirit. I was persistent getting her on my committee and she joined by June 13, 2014. Dr. Peter Gillies accepted the invitation to be on my committee on January 10, 2013. He shared my interest in lifelong learning, love for U.S. Army band members, and service to others. University of Phoenix declined my request for him to serve on my committee as an outside member but I still value his experience, encouragement, and continued association. Dr. Michael “Mick” Smith, was a God-send and wonderful addition to my team. A retired Army Officer with a PhD in statistics, who had taught statistics at West Point, happened to be working in Huntsville, Alabama. After my third residency in May 2014, my methodology changed from qualitative to quantitative. I began weekly tutoring sessions with Mick in June 2014 and he presented statistics fundamentals. Patricia Morgan, my best friend and colleague at University of Phoenix, was a fellow student and forever positive as we persevered together through each stage of the rigorous program. Patricia will soon graduate with a Doctorate of Management in Organizational Leadership. Other lifelong friends have supported me with prayers and generous acts of kindness. My thanks goes to University of Phoenix library staff for retrieving documents not available to me online and I appreciate the Veterans Administration for financial help with this program through the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Mr. Patrick Carr and Mr. Jimmie Romine, two computer technicians at Staples, were invaluable professionals who tutored me on Windows 8 on a new computer when my original computer failed during a critical course in the program in September 2013. Finally, I would like to thank the artistic directors, CEOs, presidents, and volunteer board members of the invited performing arts nonprofit organizations for their participation in this study. I learned leadership and followership lessons from all of you.