Servant Leadership in Japan: A Validation Study of the Japanese Version of the Servant Leadership Survey (SLS-J)

Yuka Kobayashi*, Kazuhiro Watanabe, Yasumasa Otsuka, Hisashi Eguchi, Norito Kawakami, Kotaro Imamura, Dirk van Dierendonck

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this study is to develop and validate a Japanese version of the Servant Leadership Scale and to clarify the relationship between servant leadership (SL) and well-being among Japanese workers. Methods: After the Japanese version of the SLS (SLS-J) and of its short form (SLS-J-short) were developed in conformity with the guidelines (Wild et al., 2005), a web-based survey was administered to 516 Japanese employees (20 or older and have a supervisor). Confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) was conducted to evaluate a construct validation of the SLS-J and the SLS-J-short. Convergent validity was estimated with theoretically related constructs (e.g., transformational leadership, supervisory support, and interpersonal justice) and potential consequences of SL (e.g., affective commitment, work engagement, job satisfaction, organizational citizenship behavior (OCB), psychological distress, and work performance). Intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) using the test-retest method was conducted with 104 of the initial respondents to assess internal consistency reliability. Additionally, the effects of SL on employees’ work engagement and the mediating role of employees’ affective commitment were estimated. Results: CFA confirmed that an eight-factor model (SLS-J) and a five-factor model (SLS-J-short) had the most satisfactory fits for the two scales with Japanese workers. Tests of convergent validity and reliability showed sufficiency for each of the dimensions of SLS-J and SLS-J-short. Additionally, it was revealed that SL has an impact on employees’ work engagement through a mediation of affective commitment at a cross-sectional level, and the indirect association between SL and work engagement via affective commitment remained afterward. Conclusion: SLS-J and SLS-J-short were confirmed to have good reliability and validity for Japanese workers. Also, this study found that SL has an important role in enhancing the engagement of workers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1711
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 2 Sept 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding. This study was supported by grants from the general research grants of occupational medical research 2017 from Japan Foundation of Occupational Health (JFOH). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© Copyright © 2020 Kobayashi, Watanabe, Otsuka, Eguchi, Kawakami, Imamura and van Dierendonck.


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