Finding meaning in highly uncertain situations: Servant leadership during change

Dirk Van Dierendonck, Milton Sousa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Modern organizations are going through continuous changes and have to deal with high uncertainty due to the still growing worldwide competition and a quickly changing economic climate. This may have serious social implication for the wellbeing of the employees involved, which potentially leads to economic losses due to reduced productivity. The premise of this chapter is that servant leadership may make a significant difference in the successful rolling out of organizational change. Leaders play an essential role in shaping meaningful working conditions. This process of sense giving is even more important in times of change. The core reasoning is that servant leaders enhance a sense of meaningfulness through a combination of personal attention and by their ability to relate change to a larger picture that goes beyond the organization. Our model shows how servant leadership can be effective by working through four pathways (self-connection, unification, contribution, and individuation) in order to encourage a greater sense of meaningfulness among employees.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)403-424
Number of pages22
JournalMonographs in Leadership and Management
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Change
  • Meaningfulness
  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • Servant leadership
  • Uncertainty


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