Serving followers and family? A trickle-down model of how servant leadership shapes employee work performance

Jakob Stollberger, Mireia Las Heras, Yasin Rofcanin, Maria Jose Bosch Kreis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Citations (SciVal)
99 Downloads (Pure)


Previous studies have identified servant leadership as an important driver of organizational effectiveness. However, so far little research attention has been given to whether servant leadership displayed by leaders across an organization's hierarchy can increase the effectiveness of its members. In this study, we integrate prosociality models with role motivation theory to examine how manager servant leadership trickles down to affect employee work performance as well as the role of supervisor family motivation in influencing the trickle-down process. Using a matched sample of employees and their supervisors from three companies in the Dominican Republic, multilevel structural equation modeling results show that manager servant leadership trickles down to inspire supervisor servant leadership, which in turn increases employee prosocial motivation and subsequent work performance. Furthermore, supervisor family motivation buffers the trickle-down mechanism in that the effect on employee work performance is weaker for supervisors with high levels of family motivation. Our research breaks new ground by shedding light on how and when servant leadership trickles down to shape employee work performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)158-171
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Vocational Behavior
Early online date25 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2019


  • Family motivation
  • Prosocial motivation
  • Servant leadership
  • Trickle-down model
  • Work performance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


Dive into the research topics of 'Serving followers and family? A trickle-down model of how servant leadership shapes employee work performance'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this