Servant Leadership, Cooperative Groups, And Productive Conflict

Servant leadership differs substantially from traditional styles based on power, positioning the leader as a servant, not a supervisor. Servant leaders should consider their employees’ interests first and act for their benefit – to ensure workers’ well-being and development. Under the guidance of a servant leader, people operate independently and nurture their creativity. Leaders align employees’ aspirations and ambitions with the organization’s mission. Such leaders are not focused on the short-term results, forcing employees to work hard to achieve them (Eva et al., 2019). Servants promote the company’s long-term success by contributing to their teams’ skills and competencies development. In such conditions, it is possible to apply other ideas with similar values, which can increase efficiency in the workplace, for example, cooperative groups and productive conflict. Although servant leadership can bring significant benefits to the development of the company and workers, this style may not be suitable in some working conditions.

A unique feature of servant leadership is that a person takes a more conscious step toward becoming a leader. Following this style, people become leaders without the goal of receiving power when they know they can help others and are ready to serve (Eva et al., 2019). As a result, the desire to be a leader is sincere, and the leaders fulfill their duties more effectively. Servant leaders should listen to their employees and consider their opinion. In such conditions, workers gain more authority in decision-making and influence the workflow, feeling that the company trusts them. The consequences of such working conditions can be astonishing – the decision-making process is effective, employees are motivated and involved, and the organization achieves its established purposes (Tarallo, 2018). The benefits of this approach are significant, but its application is not always possible.

Servant leadership would be appropriate in hospitals, non-governmental organizations, charities, creative firms, and similar settings. However, it will be ineffective in contexts where constant supervision is needed, and all actions and decisions must be agreed upon with the heads. For example, military organizations have strong hierarchies and discipline that demand more traditional leaders. Moreover, applying this approach requires significant adaptation of the work culture to match its values (Tarallo, 2018). Leaders should not just follow the style but sincerely strive to serve – this characteristic must be part of their behavior (Tarallo, 2018). Since this approach implies considerable freedom for employees, they must be able to take responsibility and effectively organize their activities, which may be difficult for some workers without additional supervision. For these reasons, companies that seek to introduce servant leadership should consider all the benefits and potential pitfalls.

Companies depend on their employees, and achieving their purposes requires significant joint efforts from workers. Therefore, work in various organizations can be organized through cooperative groups. This format is more effective than an individualistic or competitive focus, as groups understand that they can achieve their goals together (Gillies, 2019). Consequently, the work is more meaningful, promotes interactions, and encourages intellectual debate (Gillies, 2019). Members of cooperative groups learn to work together effectively and strive for healthy communication.

The ability to cooperate and make the inevitable conflict productive is crucial for working in a team. Productive conflict suggests that employees, through debate, will be able to come to a consensus and solve problems without causing negative feelings among each other (Cooper & Kerrigan, 2020). The advantages of this format of communication in considering various points of view on the problem and supporting mutual respect among colleagues. Working in cooperative groups and striving for productive conflict can apply to the servant of leadership and bring significant benefits.

Thus, servant leadership assumes that leaders will put their followers’ interests ahead and invest efforts in their development within the organization. The approach can substantially benefit the company by establishing trust between employees and leaders and promoting staff motivation and involvement. However, servant leadership may not be appropriate in some spheres. Moreover, it requires working culture’s adaptation and employees’ self-organization. This style can be complemented by other methods and ideas, such as working in cooperative groups and striving for productive conflict.


Cooper, B., & Kerrigan, E. (2020). Productive vs. unproductive conflict in the workplace. HR Daily Advisor.

Eva, N., Robin, M., Sendjaya, S., Van Dierendonck, D., & Liden, R. C. (2019). Servant leadership: A systematic review and call for future research. The Leadership Quarterly, 30(1), 111-132.

Gillies, R. M. (2019). Cooperative group work. In S. Hupp & J. D. Jewell (Eds.), The encyclopedia of child and adolescent development (pp. 1-11). John Wiley & Sons.

Tarallo, M. (2018). The art of servant leadership. Society for Human Resource Management.