Ceo servant leadership: Exploring executive characteristics and firm performance

Suzanne Peterson, Benjamin M. Galvin, Donald Lange

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

256 Scopus citations


This study offers an examination of the relationships between chief executive officer (CEO) servant leadership, the executive characteristics of narcissism, founder status, and organizational identification, and firm performance in a sample of 126 CEOs in technology organizations. Analysis of data gathered over multiple periods revealed a negative relationship between CEO narcissism and servant leadership, and a positive relationship between founder status (i.e., founder or nonfounder) and servant leadership. Furthermore, CEO organizational identification served as a partial mediating mechanism linking narcissism and founder status to servant leadership. In turn, CEO servant leadership predicted subsequent firm performance (measured as return on assets). The results of this study have implications for researchers interested in better understanding the predictors and consequences of servant leadership and for practitioners concerned with combating negative or selfish executive leadership behaviors and employing servant leadership for the organization's benefit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)565-596
Number of pages32
JournalPersonnel Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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