Servant Leadership, Third-Party Behavior, and Emotional Exhaustion of Followers

  • Innocentina-Marie O. Obi (KU Leuven)
  • Katalien Bollen (KU Leuven)
  • Hillie Aaldering (University of Amsterdam)
  • Wouter Robijn (KU Leuven)
  • Martin C. Euwema (KU Leuven)


Conflicts are ubiquitous in all life’s domain where people live and perform interdependent tasks, including convents. Managing conflicts among followers is an essential responsibility of leaders. The way leaders behave while managing such conflicts have received little academic attention; available studies have focused on business contexts. This study aimed to examine the relationship between servant leadership, and emotional exhaustion through team conflicts, and further investigates the mediating role of leaders’ third‐party conflict behaviors such as avoiding, forcing, and problem‐solving. Data were gathered from 453 religious sisters (followers), in 166 convents, in a Catholic Women Religious Institute mostly based in Nigeria. Structural equation modeling confirmed that servant leadership was associated with reduced team conflicts through leaders’ third‐party behaviors. Further findings showed that perceived servant leadership was negatively related to emotional exhaustion through a nonforcing expression. We discussed theoretical and practical implications.

Keywords: emotional exhaustion, team conflict, third‐party behaviors, female leadership, servant leadership

How to Cite:

Obi, I. O. & Bollen, K. & Aaldering, H. & Robijn, W. & Euwema, M. C., (2020) “Servant Leadership, Third-Party Behavior, and Emotional Exhaustion of Followers”, Negotiation and Conflict Management Research 14(4). doi:

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Published on
02 Aug 2020
Peer Reviewed