Corresponding Author

Kevin J. Hurt


This conceptual research paper reviews how positional authority affects the servant leadership-organizational performance relationship and provides insight on how servant leadership can be implemented and effective in the absence of positional authority, i.e. through the cultivation and leveraging of influence. A review of servant leadership literature is used to propose that servant leadership is positively associated with increased organizational performance. Through the lens of upper echelon theory as well as research on the performance of organizations whose executive team practices servant leadership, we develop a model and make a case that positional authority is an important moderator of the relationship between servant leadership and organizational performance. Our model also considers the contingency that not all leaders in an organization are in a position of authority. As such, we review the servant leadership example of Jesus Christ to understand how servant leadership can be implemented in the absence of positional authority.