Servant Leadership Research Programme


Servus Logo 2With a growing number of the leadership failures recorded in almost all industries, including professional service organizations, sports, and governmental agencies, both businesses and society are seeking the development of leaders who set aside self-interest for the betterment of their followers and organizations. One leadership approach that captures this selfless behavior is servant-leadership. Servant-leaders, by definition, place the needs of their subordinates before their own needs and center their efforts on helping subordinates grow to reach their maximum potential and achieve optimal organizational and career success. Their motivation in accomplishing these tasks is not self-interest; rather, servant-leaders want their subordinates to improve for their own good, and view the development of followers as an end, in and of itself, not merely a means to reach the leader's or organization's goals. 

Servant-leadership is very different from other leadership approaches. It highlights personal integrity. It also extends outside the organization—servant-leaders serve multiple stakeholders, including their communities and society as a whole. Servant-leadership shows promise as a way to build trust with employees, customers, and communities.

To contribute to the development of a new generation of servant-leaders, the Servant-Leadership Centre for Research and Education (SERVUS) at VU Amsterdam has developed TheServant-Leadership Research Programme (SLRP). SERVUS established in 2010 at VU Amsterdam with the ambition of exploring SL in a historical and cross-cultural perspective. SERVUS’ goal is to develop leaders’ professional as well as personal leadership capacity. The three VU core values serve as a guide to the work and actions of VU employees and students, namely to be responsible, open and personally engaged. SERVUS is built by an active group of researchers and practitioners from, amongst others, VU Amsterdam, the Greenleaf Centre Europe, and THTConsulting/KPMG.

SERVUS’ key characteristics are represented throughout the SLRP curriculum and include:

  • Dynamic: recognizing that the concept of SL is evolving, i.e. not fixed, and is applicable and has significance in multicultural (e-learning) environments
  • (Re)search-based: striving to go beyond existing theories of leadership
  • Innovation-generating: motivational, anti-cyclic, accelerator of innovation
  • Dilemma-focused: beyond linear thinking, dilemma framework
  • Bridging: theory with practice, education and (re)search
  • Connecting: people, organization and community and societal viewpoints
  • Comparative: people and bridging fields of interest (interdisciplinary), borders (international), time (history), (e-)organizations (culture), etc.
  • Serving’: reciprocity in research/education, giving back, exchange of experience - via research and education
  • Value driven: consciousness, inner awareness, essence, open and meaningful organization

What do we offer?

  • A unique leadership-development programme with a highly relevant and innovative approach to leadership development
  • Teaching by the world-class faculty, including Prof. dr. Fons Trompenaars, twice ranked in Thinkers50, #42 in 2011 and #41 in 2013
  • A dedicated curriculum that will inspire a personal growth and will prompt you to bring change in your organization
  • A rich learning from a community organisations that are inherently servant
  • An excellent networking opportunity with top-level directors and managers from a wide variety of sectors and functional areas, who also aspire to become servant leaders.