Examining the characteristics and virtues associated with servant leadership in public relations

Abstract: The purpose of this study is to understand the extent to which servant leadership and ethics of care are being practiced by public relations leaders. This study provides in-depth insights on how public relations leaders define and practice servant leadership. The study involved in-depth interviews with 21 public relations leaders working in a variety of organizational settings in the United States. We found evidence of an “other oriented approach” to leadership that involved prioritizing the needs and concerns of employees and a genuine concern for the wellbeing of others. The findings are consistent with characteristics associated with both servant leadership and ethics of care. The public relations leaders were able to provide specific examples of how these perspectives affected their decision-making. The leaders also discussed specific examples of how they demonstrate that they care about their employees.