Do You Get What You Desire? Consequences of (In)Congruence of Desired Versus Actual Servant Leadership and the Role of Context 


Drawing on expectation violation theory and role incongruency theory, we explore how (in)congruence of desired and actual behaviors of servant leaders shape followers’ outcomes, that is, work engagement, well-being and turnover intentions of employees. Furthermore, integrating research on leadership gender norms, we underline the significance of cultural context and gender role stereotypes in influencing follower outcomes and integrate a gender-cultural perspective to highlight the moderating role of gender inequality. We postulate a strong relationship between the effects of actual/ desired behaviors of servant leaders upon follower work outcomes, especially in contexts where gender inequality is high. Our results, documenting the perceptions of full-time employees (n = 2,960) across 10 countries using polynomial regression analyses, support our hypotheses and reveal important findings with regards to the role of shared perceptions and the national context in understanding how servant leaders can become more effective. The findings have significant implications for human resource managers who seek to alleviate behavioral incongruence amongst supervisors and enhance follower outcomes.  

Key Words: Servant leadership, gender, cross-culture, work engagement, well-being.