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The impact of servant leadership dimensions on leader–member exchange among health care professionals

Journal article
Authors Jan Johansson Hanse
Ulrika Harlin
Caroline Jarebrant
Kerstin Ulin
Jörgen Winkel
Published in Journal of Nursing Management
Volume 24
Issue 2
Pages 228–234
ISSN 0966-0429
Publication year 2016
Published at University of Gothenburg Centre for person-centred care (GPCC)
Department of Sociology and Work Science
Department of Psychology
Institute of Health and Care Sciences
Pages 228–234
Language en
Keywords health care, leader–member exchange, leadership, servant leadership, social exchange
Subject categories Work sciences and ergonomics, Public health science, Occupational medicine, Applied Psychology, Work Sciences


Aim: The aim of the current study was to investigate the impact of servant leadership dimensions on leader–member exchange (LMX) among health-care professionals. Background: Leadership support and the quality of the dyadic relationship between the leader and the employee are essential regarding the work environment and turnover intentions in health care. Method: A questionnaire-based cross-sectional study was undertaken at four hospital units in Sweden. The study sample included 240 employees. Results: Significant bivariate correlations were found between all servant leadership dimensions and LMX. The strongest correlations were found between ‘humility’ and LMX (r = 0.69, P < 0.001), and ‘empowerment’ and LMX (r = 0.67, P < 0.001). The hierarchical regression analyses indicated that ‘empowerment’, ‘humility’ and ‘stewardship’ explained about 55% of the variance in LMX. Conclusion: In our study servant leadership dimensions were strongly related to LMX. Implications for nursing management: The results identify specific servant leadership dimensions that are likely to be useful for developing a stronger exchange relationship between the leader (e.g. nursing manager) and individual subordinates in health care.

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