Skip to main content


Front. Psychol., 03 September 2021
Sec. Organizational Psychology
Volume 12 - 2021 |

Servant Leadership Stimulates Spiritual Well-Being Through Team Trust in a Female Religious Context

  • 1Occupational & Organizational Psychology and Professional Learning, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
  • 2Work and Organizational Psychology, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands

This study investigates how female religious leaders nurture spiritual well-being in religious sisters. Specifically, we examined how servant leadership fosters spiritual well-being [Gifts and Fruits of the Spirit (GFSp)] through, respectively, the mediating role of team trust and reduced occurrence of team conflicts. Quantitative survey data were collected from 453 religious sisters (followers) within a Catholic Women Religious Institute in Nigeria. Using structural equation modeling, results showed that servant leadership is positively related to team trust and negatively related to team conflict. Further findings showed that servant leadership indirectly fosters spiritual well-being: Gifts of the Spirit (GSp), and Fruits of the Spirit (FSp), through the mediating role of team trust, however not through reduced team conflict. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.


Leaders in religious contexts usually hold responsibilities for the spiritual well-being of followers, particularly when religious leaders and followers live and work 24/7 in religious communities, such as convents. In such a context, trust in each other is the key to well-being, and conflicts threaten both community life and personal as well as spiritual well-being. In this study, we focus on the role of servant leadership in the presence of team trust and team conflict as antecedents of spiritual well-being.

Convents in our study are local religious communities within a Catholic Women Religious Institute, mostly situated in Nigeria, also in other parts of the globe. Convents are of relatively small size (between 2 and 20 or more religious women, with a local community leader). Each local religious community or convent comprises an appointed leader. One of the responsibilities of the leader is to foster the holistic well-being (physical, emotional, moral, intellectual, spiritual, and psychological) of the followers (Obi and Bollen, 2017). Religious sisters strive for holistic well-being, both as an individual and as a community, and spiritual well-being forms an important element of holistic well-being.

Leadership plays a key role in the holistic well-being of individuals in every organization. Specifically, servant leadership, which prioritizes serving followers over and above the leader (Greenleaf, 1977; Eva et al., 2019) has been strongly associated with promoting the needs and well-being (Chiniara and Bentein, 2016; Hoch et al., 2018; Roberts, 2021) of the followers. As servant leadership is rooted in spiritual and moral insights, humility, and spirituality (Greenleaf, 1977; Graham, 1991; Sendjaya et al., 2019), it is even more related to spiritual well-being (Okonkwo, 2015). Servant leadership may not always impact followers directly. Crucial processes such as trust in the leader (Schaubroeck et al., 2011; Van Dierendonck, 2011; Shim et al., 2016), follower need satisfaction (Van Dierendonck et al., 2014; Chiniara and Bentein, 2016), and cooperative conflict management (Wong et al., 2018), have been found to enhance the relating power of servant leadership in business contexts.

While research investigating leadership and trust have extensively focused on the trust of the followers in the leader (Dirks and Ferrin, 2002), we study how servant leaders build the trust of the followers in each other, which in this study is referred to as team trust. In contrast to team trust, which indeed nurtures warm relationships and collaboration, stands team conflict, which may destroy collaboration and cooperation among individuals. Team conflicts between team members occur often and are inevitable, also in convents. While team conflict can be beneficial under specific circumstances (De Wit et al., 2012), their detrimental effects on the well-being of individuals have been highlighted (De Dreu and Weingart, 2003; Bendersky and Hays, 2012; Greer and Dannals, 2017; Römer, 2017). One of the critical factors in curbing team conflicts in organizations is leadership (Römer, 2017; Babalola et al., 2018; Zhao et al., 2019; Obi et al., 2020). Given its priority on the well-being of the followers, we focus on whether and how servant leadership can promote the perceptions of spiritual well-being of the sisters in convents, measured as “Gifts and Fruits of the Spirit” (GFSp), through increased team trust and decreased conflict occurrence.

The current study contributes to the extant literature on servant leadership, team trust, conflict, and well-being in several ways. First, we describe and understand spiritual well-being based on the theological notions of GFSp. Although these notions may enhance organizational effectiveness, they have received little attention in organizational literature. Second, research relating servant leadership to team trust (trust of followers in each other instead of trust in the leader) is scarce. Third, while we know that context plays a crucial role in leadership research (Oc, 2018), much of the research on leadership and organizations takes place in Western or Asian business contexts (Eva et al., 2019). Our study in local religious communities or convents in Nigeria is rather unique. We thus add to extant research on servant leadership, which has rarely been studied in African (Eva et al., 2019; Roberts, 2021) and/or in religious contexts.

In what follows, we describe relevant literature on spiritual well-being based on the GFSp as well as on servant leadership, team trust, and team conflict. We then argue for the hypothesized relationships and describe in the methods section our approach to data collection and statistical analyses. We explain and interpret results to finally discuss the implications for research and practice as well as limitations of our study and suggestions for future research.

Spiritual Well-Being

Spiritual well-being is a multifaceted construct, including the concepts of spirituality (McClendon, 2015), health, wholeness, and well-being (National Interfaith Coalition on Aging (NICA), 1975; Fisher et al., 2000). In 1975, spiritual well-being was initially defined by the National Interfaith Coalition on Aging (NICA) (1975), as “the affirmation of life in a relationship with (1) God, (2) self, (3) community, and (4) environment that nurtures and celebrates wholeness.” In assessing spiritual health or well-being, there is no specific universally accepted measure (Fisher, 2016; Fisher and Ng, 2017). In fact, Fisher (2015) found about 300 measures of spirituality and spiritual health or well-being used in the last five decades. A dominant measure is the 20-item spiritual health and life orientation measure (Gomez and Fisher, 2003), as well as its shortened version, which is the four-item spiritual well-being index (Fisher and Ng, 2017). Fisher (1998, 2016) defines spiritual well-being as a dynamic state of being, demonstrated by the degree to which individuals live in harmony in four domains, namely personal (meaning, aim, purpose, and life values), communal (morality, culture, and religion), environmental (awe and wonder), and transcendental (God, something or someone beyond the level of human, optimal concern, and transcendent reality). In this study, we build on these four domains of spiritual wellbeing- personal, communal, environmental, and transcendental, by investigating spiritual well-being based on the perceived presence of GFSp in a group. We focus on the experience of spiritual well-being within the team (that is, among religious sisters in local religious communities), acknowledging the communal element of the definition which would imply that one can hardly experience high spiritual well-being if interdependent others do not share in this experience.

Prior studies showed that spiritual well-being serves as a protective measure for individuals facing serious emotional stress (Hardiman and Simmonds, 2013; Oman and Bormann, 2015) and enhances job satisfaction and resilience among the youth undergoing difficult times (Tejeda, 2015). Moreover, demonstrating spiritual well-being enhances influence and satisfaction, whereas poor exhibition of spiritual well-being engenders depression and unfulfillment in business school professors of religious universities (Harajli, 2021). These results emphasize the need for spiritual well-being in individuals, but have not directly examined the spiritual well-being of groups. While most studies on spiritual well-being have focused on business contexts, specifically among health institutions, research in religious organizations (Okonkwo, 2015; Del Castillo et al., 2020) is limited.

Gifts and Fruits of the Spirit

Spiritual well-being in various religious traditions has been defined not only as a state of mind but also as a practice, demonstrating virtues. In the Christian tradition, spiritual well-being is generally referred to as a relationship with God and with human beings, which may be perceived from the Gifts and the Fruits of the Holy Spirit, deeply rooted in the Old and New Testament of the Bible (GSp and FSp, see Table 1). Emphasis on the GFSp can also be found in theological research (Keating, 2000; Bouchard, 2002; Ten Klooster, 2019; Anton, 2020; Richert, 2020) and in the influential Summa Theologiae-Prima Secundae and Secunda Secundae of Thomas Aquinas (ST. 1–2, Q. 68; 2, Q. 68–70). The Gifts of the Spirit (GSp) are principles of moral or ethical behaviors (virtues) and the FSp are the concrete actions or behaviors formed by virtues and inhibited by vice (Ten Klooster, 2019). Thus, GSp, also the principles or values of moral life, aid the FSp to be espoused (Ten Klooster, 2019; Anton, 2020). Hence, we posit that both “Gifts” and “Fruits” of the Spirit represent the spiritual well-being of individuals, such as religious sisters, and can also be found in other religious traditions, and among diverse individuals in their daily events of life. We focus on the GSp and the FSp as virtues and behaviors that sustain the spiritual and moral life of the individual and the groups (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2002) (CCC, nr. 1830–1832). Hence, spiritual well-being in this study encompasses the transcendental (relationship with God) and existential (relationship with self, with the community and with the environment) life of religious sisters in convents.


Table 1. Spiritual well-being: GFSp.

The GSp are identified in the book of Isaiah: “And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him. The spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, and the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord and his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord (Isaiah 11:2).” The seven GSp thus include wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord.

Wisdom enables individuals to order the created and the spiritual world properly; to respond to humans with love (charity) and patience (Richert, 2020). Wisdom fosters the ability of individuals to perceive the wonders of nature, the historical events, and the uncertainties of human life as entirely meaningful; and to participate in God's presence in the world (Fiddes, 2021) and ordered by God. Wisdom further depicts the ability of an individual to know how to live well, and to actually live good life that is essential and valuable for wellbeing (Grimm, 2015, 2017). Hence, the core of wisdom is the fear of the Lord (Longman, 2021) evident in relationship with God or in love of God and neighbor.

Understanding supersedes natural reason that focuses on what is visible to human senses. It is the gift of tolerating others, showing empathy and compassion, and can potentially foster collaboration.

Counsel inspires individuals to assess correctly how best to behave in certain circumstances (Richert, 2020). It fosters in individuals the ability to act appropriately in matters of faith and morals and enhances right judgment.

Fortitude captures the extent to which individuals are enabled to confront rather than succumb to fear, and to demonstrate the consistency of will when confronted with physical or spiritual difficulties (Richert, 2020). It enhances the coping strategy of people toward survival when confronted with poverty, loss, and hardship.

Knowledge encourages people to know and to choose the right path. With the gift of knowledge, individuals are inspired to make quick and effective discernment between what is good and what is not (Hardon, 2020).

Piety refers to reverence or loyalty (without compulsion). It inspires respect for parents and significant others and enables individuals to carry out their daily (spiritual) duties willingly. Piety enables people to see other humans not as competitors in the journey of life, but as coequals (Hardon, 2020), thereby enabling individuals to identify with others in times of suffering (Keating, 2000).

Fear of the Lord avails individuals the desire not to separate themselves from the transcendent (God). It is a “filial fear,” rather than a “servile fear.”

The Gifts of the Holy Spirit may be viewed as the convergence between morality and the spiritual life (Bouchard, 2002), and these Gifts serve to complement and perfect human activity, indicating a high level of spiritual well-being. Additionally, they help the FSp to be enacted (Ten Klooster, 2019). While the GSp are virtues, the FSp are actions that these virtues produce (Richert, 2020), or the ethical behaviors that individuals or groups display. Yet, both the GSp and the FSp are also referred to as virtues and can be stimulated, developed and advanced in convents for efficient community life.

The Fruits of the Spirit

The FSp are found in the letter of St. Paul to the Galatians: “But the Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal 5:22–23) (see Table 2).


Table 2. Results of structural equation modeling of standardized indirect effects with non-significant effects.

Love (charity) indicates the pure love of God and neighbor (Agape). Love is altruistic, self-sacrificial, and unconditional love that enables individuals to put the good of others above their own good while expecting no reward (Richert, 2020).

Joy depicts a state of being undisturbed by unconstructive events in the present life (Richert, 2020). Joy is deeper, more tranquil, and more stable than merely worldly emotional happiness that lasts momentarily.

Peace depicts tranquility, calmness, and serenity in the soul of an individual despite the anxiety and uncertainties in the experience of life. Peace enables people to be at peace with themselves in the time of chaos and confusion (Ten Klooster, 2019). Indeed, peace is an important Fruit of the spirit that depicts integrity and justice, and is an indicator of health and wellbeing that enables individual's feeling of holistic safety.

Patience depicts the ability of an individual to endure, tolerate, and bear the imperfections and inadequacies of others with compassion through the acknowledgment of their own imperfections and the need for (God's) mercy and forgiveness. It inspires people to be patient in times of suffering (Ten Klooster, 2019).

Kindness inspires the willingness of individuals to give to other people beyond what they deserve (Richert, 2020). Kindness is an active show of goodness in daily life through selfless behaviors, fairness, and compassion, by considering others, helping others, and sharing joys and sorrows, both in good and hard times (Ten Klooster, 2019).

Goodness may be perceived as consistently embracing good behavior and doing what is morally right, even at the higher expense of the reputation, success, status, and fortune of an individual for the sake of good and for the well-being of others. Goodness has been considered as innate to human existence (Floyd, 2015), and it is thereby staying true, genuine or authentic to one's characteristic nature, which may be perceived as a virtue. Hence, virtues have been indicated as closely knotted to goodness and community (Tjeltveit, 2003) of individuals that exhibit goodness or good deeds.

Gentleness depicts being compassionate and showing mercy to people rather than giving way to an easy outburst of negative emotions such as anger and revenge. A gentle individual expresses meekness and humility, and will not insist on having his/her own way. Bocarnea et al. (2018) perceive gentleness as appropriate use of power.

Faithfulness is the ability of an individual to constantly live life in a good way; trusting others humans and being trustworthy, reliable, dependable, and loyal. It has been viewed also as demonstrating authenticity (Bocarnea et al., 2018). Faithfulness indicates being reliable, dedicated, dependable and loyal towards oneself, and others, and towards the environment and the transcendent.

Self-control implies moderation, temperance, and resolutely keeping the wants and desires under control, to attain excellent goals through upholding virtuous behaviors (Zell and Baumeister, 2013).

In sum, the GSp accommodate the enactment of the FSp, which together form indicators of spiritual well-being. Research focusing on the Gifts and Fruits of the Spirit as indicators of spiritual wellbeing is rare.

Both the GSp and the FSp have been recognized as indicators of spiritual well-being in theological literature, and these claims have been substantiated with research. Previous scales have assessed parts of the GSp such as wisdom (Tredget, 2010), as well as FSp, with a specific focus on Christian virtues, leadership, and employee performance (Bocarnea et al., 2018). Research has shown that the Fruit of the Sprit, such as self-control is a virtue and the moral strength that enables moral behavior (Baumeister and Exline, 1999, 2000), which improves community harmony. Recent research has included altruistic love and faith among spiritual measures, which serve as spiritual practices to transform a dysfunctional organization into a functional work environment (Dean, 2020). Till now, however, no measure to our knowledge incorporates all GFSp to measure spiritual well-being. This is surprising, given that the GFSp fit with the four-dimensional definition of spiritual well-being, which is as follows: the extent to which individuals live in harmony with the self, community (humanity), the natural environment, and the transcendent reality; and additionally measures how this is accomplished in behavior. We build on and extend previous research on spiritual well-being by incorporating all the seven Gifts and nine FSp in our measure. Importantly, the previously mentioned measures for spiritual well-being typically focus on the individual level. However, of old, spiritual well-being also is a group construct, reflecting the well-being of the community, and the strong bond between the members. Metaphors such as “we are all parts of one body” are lived strongly. Particularly also in a collectivistic society, such as our research context, religious women in convents express a strong collective relationship and sisterhood. Thus, we further expand existing measures by investigating the GFSp as a group phenomenon based on individual perceptions.

For religious leaders, it is imperative to foster these GFSp to ensure spiritual well-being in their teams. In this study, we examine whether and how servant leadership may add to nurturing and advancing GFSp in religious sisters thereby stimulating their spiritual well-being in convents.

The Role of (Servant) Leadership

Servant leadership is referred to as an “other-oriented approach to leadership manifested through one-on-one prioritizing of follower individual needs and interests, and outward reorienting of their concern for self toward concern for others within the organization and larger community” (Eva et al., 2019, p. 112). The “other-oriented” nature of servant leadership may include the committed effort of the leader to enhance the spiritual well-being of the followers. Greenleaf (1977) introduced servant leadership into an organizational context, describing a servant leader as a servant, with a major focus on serving followers.

Servant leadership has been distinguished from other leadership behaviors such as transformational leadership due to its focus on serving the needs and well-being of followers (Van Dierendonck, 2011; Eva et al., 2019), and through several measures, servant leadership has been shown to promote the positive outcomes and well-being (Eva et al., 2019) of followers.

Liden et al. (2015) distinguished seven key dimensions of servant leadership: (1) Emotional healing: caring about the personal and individual problems and well-being of the followers. (2) Creating value for the community: involvement in building community and inspiring followers to be active in the community. (3) Conceptual skills: demonstrating competency in solving work-related problems and understanding the goals of the organization. (4) Empowering: entrusting followers with responsibility, autonomy, and decision-making. (5) Helping followers grow and succeed: helping followers attain their maximum potential and succeed in their vocation. (6) Putting subordinates first: prioritizing meeting the needs of the followers before attending to their own needs. (7) Behaving ethically: Demonstrating honesty and trustworthy behaviors and serving others as a role model of integrity. It is clear that servant leaders promote trust of the followers in each other and their holistic well-being, including spiritual well-being. We utilized the model of Liden et al. (2015); which is a notable rigorous measure (Eva et al., 2019).

Servant leadership shows a wide range of beneficial follower outcomes at individual, group, and organizational levels, as evidenced in reviews (Parris and Peachey, 2013; Eva et al., 2019), and meta-analyses also in explaining more variance than related leadership behaviors in important constructs including trust in the leader (Banks et al., 2018; Hoch et al., 2018; Lee et al., 2020; Legood et al., 2021). Servant leadership promotes trust in the leader (Shim et al., 2016), develops strategies for managing conflicts (Jit et al., 2016), and is rooted in spirituality (Sendjaya et al., 2019). Servant leaders play a crucial role in developing and maintaining productive team processes. Below, we elaborate on the potential role of servant leaders in building team trust and curbing the occurrence of team conflicts. First, we explore the relation of servant leadership with Ubuntu, an African leadership paradigm.

Ubuntu: African roots of servant leadership. This study focuses on Nigerian religious women. Nigeria, a Sub-Saharan West African context, is characterized by high collectivism, high humane orientation, and high-power distance (Hofstede, 2001; House et al., 2002). The indigenous Nigerian/African setting is rooted in community, and in leadership that cares about the well-being of the people. This leadership paradigm is expressed in the African concept of Ubuntu or Unhu, a human relational concept that promotes transformation, peace, and unity of purpose (Mawere and Van Stam, 2016). Ubuntu further depicts harmony and trust, love and compassion, honesty, forgiveness, integrity, goodwill among individuals, and also places important value on human beings. The Ubuntu African leadership philosophy depicts a community-oriented paradigm where people show interconnectedness and respect for others in peaceful coexistence. In this respect, Ubuntu shows strong similarities with the principles of servant leadership.

Hypotheses Development

Servant Leadership and Team Trust

Trust has generally been defined as “the willingness of a party to be vulnerable to the actions of another party based on the expectation that the other will perform a particular action important to the trustor, irrespective of the ability to monitor or control that party” (Mayer et al., 1995, p. 712). Two trust dimensions are central in this trust definition, which are first, willingness to accept vulnerability to trust others (propensity to trust), and second, perceived trustworthiness in terms of expecting good deeds from the person trusted (trustee). While for Mayer et al. (1995), trustworthiness factors are built in three dimensions, namely: ability, benevolence, and integrity, and this study adds predictability as the fourth dimension following Adams et al. (2008).

Benevolence is the extent to which a team member is perceived to be truly an embodiment of care, interest, protection, and concern about other team members. Integrity is the degree to which a team member is considered to be honest, truthful, and fair (just), such that what the person says aligns with what the person does. Predictability refers to the extent that the behavior of a team member is consistent or reliable, and the ability or competence depicts the extent to which a team member displays valuable skills and proficiencies that enable team effectiveness (Adams et al., 2008).

Trust is a key process of collaboration in religious community life. Here, trust could be perceived as the way a religious sister is willing to be vulnerable to the behaviors of other religious sisters based on the confidence that other religious sisters would exhibit benevolence (protect the other), predictability (transparency), integrity (honesty), and competence in the daily religious community life and work.

Servant leadership is founded on the premise that followers grow as (human) persons to become healthier, wiser, freer, and more autonomous and more capable to become servants to others (Greenleaf, 1977; Parris and Peachey, 2013). We argue that servant leadership empowers followers. To this extent, servant leaders coach, mentor, and support followers and encourage open and effective communication as well as information sharing (Sousa and Van Dierendonck, 2016). This relational behavior of a servant leader encourages followers to develop a willingness to trust each other and to exhibit trustworthy behaviors. Servant leadership gives rise to benevolence and integrity through care, compassionate love, empathy, and by listening (in a nonjudgmental way) to their followers (Van Dierendonck and Patterson, 2015; Coetzer et al., 2017). Followers may replicate these serving behaviors toward their team members, which can instigate team trust. This assertion follows prior research that the decision of a team member to trust their teammates is often based on how much benevolence (concern, care), ability, and integrity a teammate exhibits (Mayer et al., 1995). In his theoretical model, Van Dierendonck (2011) insisted that servant leadership fosters follower outcomes by enhancing a key positive psychological climate—trust. Based on the foregoing reasoning, we propose:

Hypothesis 1a: Perceived servant leadership is positively related to team trust.

Servant Leadership and Team Conflict

Conflict is a part of everyday life. Team conflicts occur between two or more individuals or parties when at least one of these parties feels irritated, frustrated, or obstructed by the other (Van de Vliert, 1997). Typically, conflict behaviors are the responses that individuals in conflict exhibit to those frustrations (Elgoibar et al., 2017), which may either escalate the conflict or help to mitigate the existing conflict.

Although team conflict is not always destructive, several meta-analyses show most team conflicts to have a harmful impact on the health, psychological well-being, and performance of individuals, a relationship that is often affected by the way conflicts are managed (Bendersky and Hays, 2012; De Wit et al., 2012; Elgoibar et al., 2017; Greer and Dannals, 2017). Conflicts challenge teamwork, including religious community living (Obi et al., 2020), and important processes to mitigate conflict occurrence among team members, including leadership has been consistently highlighted.

A key role of leadership is intervening in conflicts to solve these in a positive way (Römer et al., 2012; Römer, 2017; Babalola et al., 2018; Zhao et al., 2019; Obi et al., 2020). Servant leadership could reduce the occurrence and escalation of conflict among team members by promoting ethical behaviors (Liden et al., 2015), connecting followers to openly share information, and communicating in a constructive and effective way. Studies have indeed shown that servant leadership develops positive and efficient conflict management strategies (Jit et al., 2016), and relates strongly to positive and cooperative conflict management behaviors (Wong et al., 2018; Obi et al., 2020), which are relevant for curbing conflicts. In addition, servant leaders could apply their conceptual skills to detect whether something is going wrong within the team (Liden et al., 2015) or community. Further, servant leadership has been presented as a favorable leadership behavior in crises, given its emphasis on serving the needs of the followers over and above those of the leader (Firestone, 2020). Based on the preceding reasoning, we hypothesize:

Hypothesis 1b: Perceived servant leadership is negatively related to team conflict.

Team Trust and Spiritual Well-Being

To enhance spiritual well-being among sisters, team trust could play a significant role. As indicated above, team trust reflects the willingness of an individual (trustor) to believe that another person (trustee) is genuinely benevolent, predictable, and shows integrity and competence (Mayer et al., 1995; Adams et al., 2008). An individual (trustor) who believes that others (trustees) genuinely have her/his interests in mind (benevolence), and acts fair, honest, and just (integrity), would demonstrate virtues (GSp). Moreover, when a religious sister (trustee) demonstrates competence in daily functions, and a wide range of knowledge about religious community life, others will be inspired to live the GSp. These trustworthy behaviors would likely nurture deeper bonding with oneself (personal), with other humans or the community (communal), with the environment and with the transcendent, and thus stimulate spiritual health. Moreover, trustworthy behaviors strengthen wisdom, which enables individuals to harness their relationship with other humans (Richert, 2020), with oneself, with the environment and with the transcendent. It also enables individuals to perceive others with dignity, value, and respect. Individuals in trusting relationships would then begin to find deeper meaning in whatever that happens around them (see also Table 1). Trust in the competences or in the abilities of the team members and in their integrity, and predictability, could further stimulate their gift of understanding and other Gifts of the Spirit (see Table 1). Thus, to consistently stimulate the GSp among religious sisters, practicing trust in each other is relevant. Based on this reasoning, we propose the following:

Hypothesis 2a: Perceived team trust is positively related to the GSp.

Team Trust and FSp

We argue that the key dimensions of team trust, namely benevolence (care and looking out for others), integrity (fairness and honesty), predictability (consistency and faithfulness to plans), and competence (trust in abilities of an individual and effective communication) (Adams et al., 2008) could together promote the FSp. For example, a team member or members after making a mistake, would expect other team members to be benevolent (and compassionate) by offering forgiveness (Tjosvold et al., 2016). This benevolence (forgiveness) experienced by a team member or team members, would inspire FSP- love (charity), joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (see Table 1). The FSp can hardly be developed in an organization without committed relationships with others. In other words, the Fruits of the Spirit can hardly be developed in local religious communities without sisters' committed trust relationships and connecting with each other. Hence, the trust that religious sisters have in each other would likely fuel the exhibition of the Fruits of the Spirit, thereby stimulate spiritual wellbeing in convents. Following this line of thought, we expect:

Hypothesis 2b: Perceived team trust is positively related to the FSp.

Team Conflict and Spiritual Well-Being

We already mentioned the most negative impact of team conflict on the well-being and performance of individuals as well as on the collaborative teamwork (Bendersky and Hays, 2012; De Wit et al., 2012; Tjosvold et al., 2019). In conflicts, people get insecure, lack trust, and lose confidence in other people and in themselves and hence, issues get more challenging and problematic and conflicts escalate. Similarly, research has shown that individuals in conflicts often become overly emotional, angry, and are unable to see the viewpoints of others (Bollen and Euwema, 2015; Elgoibar et al., 2017). They become narrow-minded such that it seems difficult either to live out the GSp—wisdom, understanding, knowledge, and piety, or bear FSp, which are peace, patient, or to show love for the other person, as people feel hurt. Following this line of thought, we formulate:

Hypotheses 3: Perceived team conflict is negatively related to (H3a) GSp and (H3b) FSp.

Servant Leadership and Spiritual Well-Being—The Mediating Role of Team Trust

Servant leadership behaviors are capable of advancing spiritual well-being of their followers. Several studies have consistently associated servant leadership with such virtues as compassionate love, humility, forgiveness, and interpersonal acceptance (Van Dierendonck and Nuijten, 2011; Van Dierendonck and Patterson, 2015; Jit et al., 2017; Sousa and Van Dierendonck, 2017). Others include ethical and moral behaviors such as honesty, trust, integrity, and spirituality (Liden et al., 2008; Sendjaya et al., 2019). These virtuous and moral potentials associated with servant leadership suggest a strong link between servant leadership and the spiritual well-being of the followers. While servant leadership may not always foster the well-being of the followers directly, critical team processes such as team trust could serve as an underlying psychological mechanism to mediate a proposed relationship.

This study posits that servant leadership could foster spiritual well-being (GSp) through stimulating team trust among their followers. As argued previously, the follower-centered premise of servant leadership, and its ethical behaviors, namely honesty and trust (Liden et al., 2015), would inspire the trust of followers among each other. Van Dierendonck (2011) indicated that the person-oriented attitude of a servant leader makes way for safer and stronger relationships within the organization. In precarious situations, team members are convinced that they could rely on other team members to be fair (e.g., Adams et al., 2008), as they believe that their team members have their best interest at heart, which may foster a conducive environment for spiritual well-being. We posit that servant leadership would positively inspire the trust of the team members in each other through its virtuous or ethical behaviors and emotional healing (Liden et al., 2015). Consequently, team trust will in turn advance the spiritual wellbeing of followers through inspiring the GSp.

We further propose that servant leadership fosters FSp through the mediating role of team trust. When team members trust each other and are perceived to be trustworthy, they visibly portray behaviors depicting that they could be benevolent, transparent, reliable, and competent. These trustworthy behaviors will likely enhance their expressions of love, joy, peaceful behaviors, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentle behaviors and self control in relating with self, with the community, the environment and the Transcendent. Since rigorous reviews and meta-analytic evidence have concurred that servant leadership behavior strongly influences the well-being of their followers through mediating variables, such as trust in the leader (Parris and Peachey, 2013; Eva et al., 2019; Lee et al., 2020), we posit that servant leadership will likely promote spiritual well-being through building trust among team members. Based on the foregoing reasoning, we hypothesize:

Hypothesis 4: Team trust mediates the relationship between perceived servant leadership and (H4a), GSp, and (H4b) FSp.

Servant Leadership and Spiritual Well-Being—The Mediating Role of Team Conflict

While conflicts often impact well-being in a negative way, servant leadership could curb conflict occurrence by encouraging followers in conflict to discuss their issues in a constructive way (Römer et al., 2012; Wong et al., 2018; Obi et al., 2020), and conversely promote psychological well-being of the followers (Rivkin et al., 2014). Servant leadership has been qualitatively found to reduce team conflict by initially diagnosing conflict issues and by humane and participative approaches (Jit et al., 2016).

When followers experience low levels of conflict as a consequence of such servant leadership behaviors, they can indeed manifest their gifts of wisdom and understanding and can demonstrate counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and love of God in charity (fear of God) toward each other, rather than fear of punishment, misunderstanding, hatred, and demonstrating discouragement, as a result of conflict. When followers experience lower levels of conflicts or no conflicts at all, or feel confident to be able to handle conflicts, then they can further exhibit love (agape: Divine Love), joy, peace, patient, kindness, modesty, fidelity, and goodness, rather than hate, negative energy, discord, impatience, unkind attitudes and behaviors, infidelity to community life, and greed, as a result of lack of self-control, which conflicts could instigate. Thus, FSp can materialize within teams in the absence of disruptive conflict. Based on this reasoning, we hypothesize:

Hypotheses 4: Team conflict mediates the relationship between servant leadership, and (H4c) GSp, and (H4d) FSp.

Materials and Methods

Sampling and Data Collection

We applied a quantitative survey research approach and assessed the survey either online or with paper and pencil.

The data for this study were collected from religious sisters living and working in local religious communities of a Catholic Women Religious Institute (CWRI) founded in Nigeria. The general leadership team of the Religious Institute provided us with written permission to conduct our research, and all participants signed informed consent. A total of 777 female participants received the questionnaire survey. Respondents were basically Nigerians coming from 166 out of 221 local religious communities within a Religious Institute at the time. The majority of our participants lived and worked in Nigeria and also in other parts of Africa (n = 407), Europe, and North America (n = 46). The researcher visited the research site to distribute the questionnaires to be filled with paper and pencil. Two planned seminars were used to distribute the questionnaires and collect the data. The final sample consisted of 453 respondents who completed the questionnaire (response rate 58.3%), of which 56 were completed online and 397 via paper and pencil. Paper and pencil were much more used for data collection since a good number of the respondents did not have sufficient access to the Internet. Research was conducted between 2016 and 2017.

All participants were women and were all religious sisters. Instead of age, we used the number of years of the participants in the religious profession: The mean age of profession was 18.92 (SD = 10.14), ranging from 1 to 51 years in religious life. The average tenure in convents was 4.77 (SD = 3.06). Participants held different educational backgrounds, with most of them holding a bachelor's degree (30.9%), 26.5% a master's degree, and 3.5% a doctoral degree. Their fields of work varied widely with education as the most dominant professional area of work (60.3%), followed by medical and health (17.4%), accounting (7.7%), and pastoral ministry.


Servant Leadership

Servant leadership was measured using the seven-item scale developed by Liden et al. (2015). Sample item for the leaders, adapted to fit the religious context: “My local superior puts my best interest before her own.” Cronbach's α is 0.66.

Team Trust

In order to measure team trust among religious sisters, a 20-item version of the “Trust in Teams Scale” by Adams et al. (2008) was utilized and adapted to suit the religious community context, assessing four dimensions of team trust. The subscales include the following: benevolence (five items), sample item is “My sisters look out for me” with Cronbach's α of 0.83; integrity (five items), sample item is “My sisters honor their words,” Cronbach's α is 0.90; predictability (five items), sample item is “My sisters are reliable,” Cronbach's α is 0.81, and competence (five items), sample item is “I have confidence in my abilities of my sisters,” Cronbach's α is 0.80. Cronbach's α for the general scale is 0.94.

Team Conflict

Team conflict was measured with 13-items, nine items were adapted from the team conflict scale as developed by Jehn and Mannix (2001) measuring relationship conflict (three items), task conflict (three items), and process conflict (three items): The other four items measuring status conflict were adapted from Bendersky and Hays (2012). Sample items include the following, for relationship conflict, “sisters in my community experienced emotional conflict;” (α = 0.63); task conflict, “sisters in my community frequently had disagreements about the task we are working on” (α = 0.77); process conflict, “sisters in my community often disagree about who should do what” in my community (α = 0.85); and status conflict, “sisters in my community frequently took sides during conflicts (α = 0.79).” Cronbach's α for the combined team conflict scale is 0.91, which offered us ample reason to utilize these four conflict types as one team conflict construct (see also the descriptive Table 3).


Table 3. Means, SDs, correlations, and scale reliabilities of studied variables.

Spiritual Well-Being—GSp and FSp

Items for GFSp scale were generated from the review of relevant literature (Bouchard, 2002; Fisher, 2016; Fisher and Ng, 2017; Bocarnea et al., 2018; Ten Klooster, 2019). The current measurement of spiritual well-being contains a total of 16 items comprising GSp (seven items) and FSp (nine items). The key difference between the present spiritual well-being scale and other scales measuring spiritual well-being is the particular emphasis on both the GSp and the FSp as indicators of spiritual well-being. Note that our operationalization focuses on the Gifts and Fruits perceptions within the team, rather than those experienced and expressed by individual members. These items were constructed by the researcher in collaboration with the authors. The response format was on a seven-point Likert scale ranging from “1 = strongly disagree” to “7 = strongly agree.” Participants were asked to indicate to what extent each of the statements corresponded to their experience of spiritual well-being in their local religious communities. Sample item for the GSp reads: “The sisters have understanding and are considerate toward other sisters,” Cronbach's α = 0.89. Sample item for the FSp reads: “We form a joyful community,” Cronbach's α = 0.92.

Strategy of Analysis

Regarding the new scale for assessing spiritual well-being GFSp, an exploratory factor analysis (EFA) using the principal component analysis (PCA) on 16 items with oblimin rotation in SPSS version 26 was conducted. This resulted in a two-factor model. The Kaiser–Meyer–Olkin (KMO) measure confirmed the adequacy of the sample to be used for the analysis: KMO, 0.94, which Hutcheson and Sofroniou (1999) referred to as “marvelous.” All KMO values for individual items were above the acceptable limit of 0.5 (Field, 2013). The two factors in combination explained 61.25% of the variance. The items that cluster on the same factor suggest that factor 1 exemplifies the nine FSp, while factor 2 typifies the seven GSp (see Table 4).


Table 4. Exploratory factor analysis (EFA) results for GFSp.

We utilized structural equation modeling (SEM) to examine the adequacy of the overall model, which enabled us to test simultaneously, our proposed hypotheses. The analysis was conducted with the use of R software, version 3.3.3 with the lavaan package (Rosseel, 2012) version 0.6–1.1132 as well as lavaan survey package (Oberski, 2014). To evaluate the model fit, we applied several goodness-of-fit indices such as the comparative fit index (CFI), the Tucker–Lewis index (TLI), the standardized root mean-square residual (SRMR), as well as the root mean square error of approximation (RMSEA). The CFI and TLI values up to 0.90 and above are acceptable for a reasonable fit. The SRMR values below 0.08, and RMSEA (0.06–0.08) for a reasonable fit (Hu and Bentler, 1999) are acceptable.

The latent constructs, servant leadership, GFSp were constructed with the use of their individual items. As recommended by Little et al. (2013), team trust and team conflict were made out of their respective dimensions or parcels, rather than using the individual items.

Some of the participants in this study live together and belong to the same team (local religious community), and this implies they rated, the same leader, and the same team. Since these observations are dependent rather than independent, we used the lavaan survey to observe the teams as clusters (Oberski, 2014). The use of lavaan survey package in R enhances estimation of our concepts over the clusters, without explicitly modeling the effect of the clusters or teams themselves, as we focus not on the team but the individual.


Preliminary Analyses

Table 3 displays the descriptive statistics including the means, standard deviations, reliabilities, and intercorrelations among studied variables. All variables are correlated in the expected directions. Cronbach's alpha for the scales are shown between parentheses at the diagonal. Before testing the hypotheses, we conducted confirmatory factor analyses (CFA) in which we tested two different models to ascertain the dimension of the constructs under study. We constructed measurement model 1, which is a measurement model where the two different constructs representing spiritual well-being, GSp and FSp, loaded on one latent spiritual well-being construct. We compared this first model to measurement model 2, which was based on the five latent variables discussed in the theoretical section above: servant leadership, team trust, team conflict, GSp, and FSp. Both measurement model 1 and measurement model 2 were modified according to the specifications of modification indices.

Measurement model 1 (χ2 = 989.808, df = 427, CFI = 0.90, TLI = 0.89, RMSEA = 0.05, SRMR = 0.06) generated a good fit. Measurement model 2 (χ2 = 888.195, df = 423, CFI = 0.92, TLI = 0.91, RMSEA = 0.06, SRMR = 0.05) yielded better goodness-of-fit indices. The four-factor measurement Model 1, although a good fit, did not produce an acceptable TLI cut off criteria (0.90–0.95) (Hu and Bentler, 1999), and so, was not fit for this study. The five-factor model (measurement model 2) made an excellent fit, suggesting that the five constructs are distinguishable and most of the variances could be explained due to different constructs.

Main Analysis

To test the proposed hypotheses, we designed all the hypothesized relationships into a single model (see Figure 1). This was to enhance the simultaneous analysis of the intervening pathways and to ensure a better estimate of the way concepts relate to each other. The structural model produced an excellent goodness of-fit-indices: (χ2 = 888.195, df = 423, CFI = 0.92; TLI = 0.91, RMSEA = 0.06, SRMR = 0.05). Mediation analysis was conducted to establish whether or not there was an indirect effect (Hayes, 2009; Zhao et al., 2010). To test mediation simultaneously is preferable to conduct them separately (Zhao et al., 2010).


Figure 1. The hypothesized mediation model with SEM parameter and path estimates. ***p < 0.001.

The SEM analysis confirmed H1a, which is servant leadership had a strong positive relationship with team trust (γ = 0.60; p < 0.001). Additionally, and as expected, servant leadership was found to be negatively related to team conflict (γ = −0.29; p < 0.001) (H1b). Further, team trust was found to be positively related with both (H2a) GSp (γ = 0.71; p < 0.001) and (H2b) FSp (γ = 0.76; p < 0.001), confirming Hypothesis 2. Against our expectations, team conflict had no significant relationship with either (H3a) GSp (γ = −0.07; p = 0.16 ns) or (H3b) FSp (γ = 0.02; p = 0.73 ns), rejecting Hypotheses 3a and 3b. The Sobel test revealed a significant indirect effect of team trust, between servant leadership and both the GSp (standardized estimate = 0.43; p < 0.001) (H4a) and FSp (standardized estimate = 0.46; p < 0.001) (H4b), supporting H4a and H4b, respectively. Given the absence of a relationship between team conflict and GFSp, there was no indirect effect of team conflict between servant leadership and both GSp (standardized estimate = −0.02; p = 0.16) (H4c) and FSp (standardized estimate = −0.01; p = 0.73) (H4d). Thus, H4c and H4d were not supported in this study.

Notably, while we did not include the direct effect and the total effect in the hypotheses, given our need for indirect effects, these were calculated. All direct effects were non-significant, and thus, were not shown in the final structural model to enhance clarity. When considering only the direct effects, there was no significant relationship between servant leadership and neither the GSp (γ = 0.07, p = 0.53 ns) nor the FSp (γ = −0.09, p = 0.29 ns). Concerning team trust, the total effect (combining the direct effect, and the indirect effect of the mediating variable-team trust) between servant leadership and GSp was significant (standardized estimate = 0.38, p < 0.001). Also, the total effect (combining the direct, and the indirect effects of the mediating variable- team trust) between servant leadership and FSp was also significant (standardized estimate = 0.37, p < 0.001). Regarding team conflict as a mediator, the total effect (combining the direct and the indirect effects of the of the mediating variable, team conflict) between servant leadership and the GSp (standardized estimate = 0.07, p = 0.37) and FSp (standardized estimate = 0.09, p = 0.27) were non-significant.


The current study investigated the direct and indirect relationships between servant leadership and team trust, team conflict, and spiritual well-being in the team and GFSp in religious communities in Nigeria. We found servant leadership to promote team trust (here, trust among religious sisters) directly and spiritual well-being indirectly through fostering team trust. While servant leadership is associated with reduced team conflict occurrence, this was found not to be related to spiritual well-being. These findings show the importance of servant leadership and the development of trust to stimulate and enhance spiritual well-being within the team.

Theoretical Implications of Study

This study contributes to advancing knowledge in five key ways. First, a direct relationship between servant leadership and team trust is in line with the theories of Greenleaf (2002) that trust is the foundation of servant leadership. This result goes beyond the dominant literature on the trust of followers in leadership (Dirks and Ferrin, 2002; Schaubroeck et al., 2011), and underlines the role of trust in team members. Our finding confirms prior research highlighting trust and positive behaviors of leaders as triggers of the virtuous behaviors of the followers (Malingumu et al., 2016; De Carlo et al., 2020).

Second, we established a direct negative relationship between servant leadership and team conflict. Through relational qualities including good communication skills that foster emotional healing and skills related to community building, servant leaders prevent team conflict from occurring. This finding adds to previous research, indicating that servant leadership behaviors, including humane and participative approaches, could reduce conflict (Jit et al., 2016). By extension, our finding supports the theory that servant leadership could be an excellent leadership behavior in crisis (Firestone, 2020) including team conflicts.

Third, the fact that team trust mediates the relationship between servant leadership and spiritual well-being, GFSp in the team, supports the theory of Van Dierendonck's (2011) on the role of the psychological climate of an organization, such as trust, that could explain the servant leadership–outcome relationship. Team trust is highly emphasized in this study, shedding light on the fact that the four key dimensions of team trust, benevolent, integrity, predictability, and competence (Adams et al., 2008) could together stimulate spiritual well-being in the team, as long as the leader exhibits serving behaviors.

Fourth, the current study introduced the GFSp as indicators of spiritual well-being in the team. While prior organizational studies are beginning to explore virtues such as humility and compassionate love (Van Dierendonck and Patterson, 2015; Sousa and Van Dierendonck, 2017), recent research presented an extensive measure of the FSp in association with leadership (Bocarnea et al., 2018). No research we know of has introduced the GFSp as a measure for spiritual well-being.

Finally, this study was conducted in convents of a Catholic Women Religious Institutes in Nigeria, a West African context. Organizational psychological research has focused on business contexts in the USA and on Asian contexts (see Roberts, 2021). To our knowledge, this is the first study investigating female servant leadership and the implications on team dynamics in such a context and adds to the understanding of leadership and group development in religious communities.

Next to these contributions, our findings also raised some questions. In our testing, we found that team conflict does not mediate the relationship between servant leadership and spiritual well-being. This is surprising, also given the existing and expected direct relations between servant leadership, conflict, and GFSp. These results suggest that team trust is a stronger driver in this relationship, as we used a double mediator design (Hughes et al., 2018).

Trust in team members seems more relevant to religious sisters than focusing on team conflicts. This finding is relevant given that when leaders entrust followers with crucial responsibilities, followers may begin to exhibit trustworthy behaviors in such responsibilities, also toward their team members. Moreover, trusting that team members (religious sisters) could be caring, reliable, transparent, and competent and rating them so, indicates that team members are more interested and more focused in trusting each other than in looking out for conflicts. Further, research has shown that conflict occurs less in an atmosphere of trust (Rousseau et al., 1998). This is worth further study, exploring the interplay between team trust and team conflict, particularly in the context of religious organizations and small communities such as convents.

Practical Implications

Local community leaders need to be attentive to stimulating trust in the relationships of team members. This can be done by engaging in servant leadership behaviors. Specifically, local community leaders might encourage religious sisters to share information openly and to discuss and reflect on issues together. Indeed, as servant leadership fosters the voice of the followers, followers are more likely to engage in information sharing among themselves (Lee et al., 2020), through which they can handle their conflicts better.

Building team trust among followers is a viable way to stimulate spiritual well-being in religious communities. Leaders and organizations need to see the relevance of servant leadership in encouraging effective interpersonal relationships, collaboration, and honest dialogue among followers. Stimulating spiritual well-being in convents implies advancing growth in wisdom, understanding, counsel and fortitude, knowledge and piety, and fear of God (love of God); as well as enhancing selfless love, joy, and peace, patient, kindness, and goodness, generosity, faithfulness, and modesty or self-control; (see also Table 1). To adequately enhance these virtues (GFSp) in local religious communities demands advancing a servant leadership and a team trust culture and climate.

We, therefore, underline leadership training in religious institutes to be designed in line with the ideas underlying servant leadership and with a strong focus on how to build and stimulate trust among team members (religious sisters). When selecting leaders at all levels of the religious organization, it is needed to pay attention to those individuals that are trustworthy themselves and possess trust building potentials.

Besides training for trust building, selecting competent and potential servant leaders can further promote trust and spiritual well-being – living out the GFSp. For example, research has indicated that with regard to personality traits, training alone could be quite limited, and inadequate, as it can hardly change the steady personality of some individuals. In this regard, it is unlikely that self-centered, authoritarian, and narcissistic people would become relational, person-oriented, sensitive to the needs of others, or learn servant leadership behaviors (Eva et al., 2019) instantly. Our study highlights the importance of (s)electing, training, and coaching those local community leaders and other sisters who show qualities toward advancing servant leadership behaviors and team trust or trust building tendencies for stimulating spiritual wellbeing- GFSp of religious sisters.

Limitations of Study and Suggestions for Future Research

A key potential limitation of this study is the cross-sectional nature of the data, which inhibits drawing causal conclusions. We believe that the direction of the relationships is not crucial for understanding the need to promote servant leadership, team trust, and spiritual well-being. However, future studies could apply longitudinal and experimental studies to establish causal relations.

Whereas, research on the trust of followers in leadership (Dirks and Ferrin, 2002), and also in servant leadership studies (Joseph and Winston, 2005) has garnered much interest in the past decades, research on team trust is mostly lacking (Lau and Liden, 2008; Braun et al., 2013; Boies et al., 2015). Consistent with the measure for team trust (Adams et al., 2008) and based on our empirical findings, it would be relevant to take this into account in future studies, more specifically, trust among team members.

Moreover, while the concept of servant leadership naturally resonates with spiritual values, it would be important to examine how other leadership styles, such as transformational leadership, may facilitate (or inhibit) the development of spiritual well-being from the perspective of GFSp. Transformational leadership has also been shown to predict team trust (Braun et al., 2013; Chou et al., 2013) and as such might be a likely leadership behavior further foster spiritual well-being too.

Our study is the first to our knowledge to measure spiritual well-being using the GFSp. However, the GFSp have been recognized as indicators of spiritual well-being in theological culture in diverse ways, and these claims have been substantiated with research. Previous measures have also assessed parts of the Gifts and Fruits of the Spirit in various ways to measure spiritual well-being (Gomez and Fisher, 2003; Fisher, 2010, 2011, 2016). Our scale is an expansion of these previous scales. As the goal of our study is not to validate this scale, further research is needed to make the next steps and test for convergent, discriminant, and predictive validity, as well as to test the context-specificity of the scale.

With regards to the seemingly low Cronbach's α values, while the Cronbach's α of the servant leadership scale was surprisingly low, this could perhaps be explained by the specific population that we investigated and/or by slight modifications we made to the items to fit the population. Finally, given the unique context of this study, the results may not be generalized to other contexts. Future research could build on our model in other contexts to enhance its generalizability.


Our study investigated the direct and indirect effects of servant leadership on team trust, team conflict, and spiritual well-being by means of a questionnaire survey in local religious communities in Nigeria. Results showed team trust to mediate the relationship between servant leadership and spiritual well-being, namely: GFSp as experienced in convents. Further results showed that servant leadership curbs team conflict occurrence in convents. Our results highlight the importance of trusting cooperation and the role of servant leadership in building team trust stimulating spiritual well-being: the experience of GFSp. As such, servant leadership is highlighted in this study to be specifically beneficial and appropriate for Catholic Women Religious Institutes.

Data Availability Statement

The datasets used for this research article are not likely to be available to the general public until the end of the ongoing research. However, accessing the datasets would be on request through the corresponding author.

Ethics Statement

The study was conducted according to the guidelines of the Declaration of Helsinki, and reviewed and approved by the KU Leuven Doctoral Committee. As such, further review was not necessary according to the University's ethical guidelines. Written and signed informed consent was received from all the participants.

Author Contributions

All authors designed the study. I-MO collected and analyzed the data and wrote the first draft. HA, KB, and ME provided feedback. All authors contributed to manuscript revisions, as well as approved the final submission of the current version.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

Publisher's Note

All claims expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of their affiliated organizations, or those of the publisher, the editors and the reviewers. Any product that may be evaluated in this article, or claim that may be made by its manufacturer, is not guaranteed or endorsed by the publisher.


The authors thank Dr. Wouter Robijn, for having contributed to the statistical analysis of this research.


Adams, B. D. B., Waldherr, S., and Sartori, J. (2008). Trust in Teams Scale, Trust in Leaders Scale: Manual for Administration and Analyses. Guelph, ON: Humansystems Incorporated, 1–26.

Google Scholar

Anton, M. (2020). The beatitudes, merit, and the pursuit of happiness in the prima secundae: the action of the holy spirit at the heart of moral theology. Nova Vetera 18, 179–200. doi: 10.1353/nov.2020.0009

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Babalola, M. T., Stouten, J., Euwema, M. C., and Ovadje, F. (2018). The relation between ethical leadership and workplace conflicts: the mediating role of employee resolution efficacy. J. Manage. 44, 2037–2063. doi: 10.1177/0149206316638163

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Banks, G. C., Gooty, J., Ross, R. L., Williams, C. E., and Harrington, N. T. (2018). Construct redundancy in leader behaviors: a review and agenda for the future. Leadersh. Q. 29, 236–251. doi: 10.1016/j.leaqua.2017.12.005

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Baumeister, R. F., and Exline, J. J. (1999). Virtue, personality, and social relations: self-control as the moral muscle. J. Pers. 67, 1165–1194. doi: 10.1111/1467-6494.00086

PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Baumeister, R. F., and Exline, J. J. (2000). Self-control, morality, and human strength. J. Soc. Clin. Psychol. 19, 29–42. doi: 10.1521/jscp.2000.19.1.29

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Bendersky, C., and Hays, N. A. (2012). Status conflict in groups. Org. Sci. 23, 323–340. doi: 10.1287/orsc.1110.0734

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Bocarnea, M. C., Henson, J., Huizing, R. L., Mahan, M., and Winston, B. E. (2018). Evaluating Employee Performance Through Christian Virtues. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan.

Google Scholar

Boies, K., Fiset, J., and Gill, H. (2015). Communication and trust are key: unlocking the relationship between leadership and team performance and creativity. Leadersh. Q. 26, 1080–1094. doi: 10.1016/j.leaqua.2015.07.007

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Bollen, K., and Euwema, M. (2015). Angry at your boss: who cares? Anger recognition and mediation effectiveness. Euro. J. Work Org. Psychol. 24, 256–266. doi: 10.1080/1359432X.2014.895327

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Bouchard, C. E. (2002). Recovering the gifts of the holy spirit in moral theology. Theol. Stud. 63, 539–558. doi: 10.1177/004056390206300305

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Braun, S., Peus, C., Weisweiler, S., and Frey, D. (2013). Transformational leadership, job satisfaction, and team performance: a multilevel mediation model of trust. Leadersh. Q. 24, 270–283. doi: 10.1016/j.leaqua.2012.11.006

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Catechism of the Catholic Church (2002). Dugbe Ibadan. St. Pauls, MN.

Chiniara, M., and Bentein, K. (2016). Linking servant leadership to individual performance: differentiating the mediating role of autonomy, competence and relatedness need satisfaction. Leadersh. Q. 27, 124–141. doi: 10.1016/j.leaqua.2015.08.004

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Chou, H. W., Lin, Y. H., Chang, H. H., and Chuang, W. W. (2013). Transformational leadership and team performance: the mediating roles of cognitive trust and collective efficacy. Sage Open 3, 1–10. doi: 10.1177/2158244013497027

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Coetzer, M. F., Bussin, M., and Geldenhuys, M. (2017). The functions of a servant leader. Administr. Sci. 7:5. doi: 10.3390/admsci7010005

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

De Carlo, A., Dal Corso, L., Carluccio, F., Colledani, D., and Falco, A. (2020). Positive supervisor behaviors and employee performance: the serial mediation of workplace spirituality and work engagement. Front. Psychol. 11:1834. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01834

PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

De Dreu, C. K., and Weingart, L. R. (2003). Task versus relationship conflict, team performance, and team member satisfaction: a meta-analysis. J. Appl. Psychol. 88:741. doi: 10.1037/0021-9010.88.4.741

PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

De Wit, F. R., Greer, L. L., and Jehn, K. A. (2012). The paradox of intragroup conflict: a meta-analysis. J. Appl. Psychol. 97:360. doi: 10.1037/a0024844

PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Dean, D. J. (2020). “Introducing workplace spirituality as a catalyst to transform from dysfunction to organizational convergence,” in Organizational Metaphors. Christian Faith Perspectives in Leadership and Business, eds R. Huizinga and D. Dean (Cham: Palgrave Macmillan). doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-41712-3_6

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Del Castillo, F., del Castillo, C. D., and Alvarez, M. (2020). Spiritual well-being and its role on the sociality of selected Catholic Religious Novices. Religions 11:371. doi: 10.3390/rel11070371

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Dirks, K. T., and Ferrin, D. L. (2002). Trust in leadership: meta-analytic findings and implications for research and practice. J. Appl. Psychol. 87, 611–628. doi: 10.1037/0021-9010.87.4.611

PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Elgoibar, P., Euwema, M., and Munduate, L. (2017). “Conflict management,” in Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Psychology (Oxford: Oxford University Press), 1–28. doi: 10.1093/acrefore/9780190236557.013.5

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Eva, N., Robin, M., Sendjaya, S., van Dierendonck, D., and Liden, R. C. (2019). Servant leadership: a systematic review and call for future research. Leadersh. Q. 30, 111–132. doi: 10.1016/j.leaqua.2018.07.004

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Fiddes, P. S. (2021). “Wisdom in christian theology,” in The Oxford Handbook of Wisdom and the Bible, ed W. Kynes (Oxford: Oxford University Press). doi: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780190661267.013.16

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Field, A. (2013). Discovering Statistics Using IBM SPSS Statistics. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Google Scholar

Firestone, S. (2020). “Servant leadership and crisis leadership,” in Biblical Principles of Crisis Leadership, eds D. Gomez, K. Patterson, B. E. Winston, and G. Oster (Cham: Palgrave Macmillan), 105–117. doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-44955-1_11

PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Fisher, J. (2010). Development and application of a spiritual well-being questionnaire called SHALOM. Religions 1, 105–121. doi: 10.3390/rel1010105

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Fisher, J. (2011). The four domains model: connecting spirituality, health and well-being. Religions 2, 17–28. doi: 10.3390/rel2010017

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Fisher, J. (2016). Selecting the best version of SHALOM to assess spiritual well-being. Religions 7:45. doi: 10.3390/rel7050045

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Fisher, J., and Ng, D. (2017). Presenting a 4-item spiritual well-being index (4-ISWBI). Religions 8:179. doi: 10.3390/rel8090179

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Fisher, J. W. (1998). Spiritual health: its nature, and place in the school curriculum (Ph.D. Thesis). The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia.

Google Scholar

Fisher, J. W. (2015). “A critique of quantitative measures for assessing spirituality and spiritual well-being,” in Spirituality, Global Practices, Societal Attitudes and Effects on Health, ed C. Roberts (New York, NY: Nova Science Publishers), 91–131.

Google Scholar

Fisher, J. W., Francis, L. J., and Johnson, P. (2000). Assessing spiritual health via four domains of spiritual wellbeing: the SH4DI. Pastoral. Psychol. 49, 133–145. doi: 10.1023/A:1004609227002

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Floyd, S. (2015). Substantial goodness and nascent human life. HEC Forum 27, 229–248. doi: 10.1007/s10730-015-9265-9

PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Gomez, R., and Fisher, J. W. (2003). Domains of spiritual well-being and development and validation of the Spiritual Well-Being Questionnaire. Pers. Individ. Dif. 35, 1975–1991. doi: 10.1016/S0191-8869(03)00045-X

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Graham, J. W. (1991). Servant-leadership in organizations: inspirational and moral. Leaders. Q. 2, 105–119. doi: 10.1016/1048-9843(91)90025-W

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Greenleaf, R. K. (1977). Servant-Leadership: A Journey Into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness. New York, NY: Paulist Press.

Google Scholar

Greenleaf, R. K. (2002). Servant Leadership: A Journey Into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press.

Google Scholar

Greer, L. L., and Dannals, J. E. (2017). “Conflict in teams,” in The Wiley Blackwell Handbook of Team Dynamics, Teamwork, and Collaborative Working, eds R. Rico, E. Salas, and N. Ashkanasy (Somerset, NY: John Wiley and Sons Publishing), 317–344.

Google Scholar

Grimm, S. R. (2015). Wisdom. Aust. J. Philos. 93, 139–154. doi: 10.1080/00048402.2014.937449

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Grimm, S. R. (2017). “Wisdom in theology,” in The Oxford Handbook of the Epistemology of Theology, eds W. J. Abraham and F. D. Aquino (Oxford: Oxford University Press), 190–202.

Google Scholar

Harajli, D. A. (2021). “Spiritual well-being of business school faculty,” in The Palgrave Handbook of Workplace Well-Being, ed S. Dhiman (Springer Nature), 617–642. doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-30025-8_80

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Hardiman, P., and Simmonds, J. G. (2013). Spiritual well-being, burnout and trauma in counsellors and psychotherapists. Mental Health Religion Cult. 16, 1044–1055. doi: 10.1080/13674676.2012.732560

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Hardon, J. A. (2020). Prayer. Available online at: (accessed October 25, 2020).

Google Scholar

Hayes, A. F. (2009). Beyond Baron and Kenny: statistical mediation analysis in the new millennium. Commun. Monogr. 76, 408–420. doi: 10.1080/03637750903310360

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Hoch, J. E., Bommer, W. H., Dulebohn, J. H., and Wu, D. (2018). Do ethical, authentic, and servant leadership explain variance above and beyond transformational leadership? A meta-analysis. J. Manage. 44, 501–529. doi: 10.1177/0149206316665461

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Hofstede, G. (2001). Culture's Consequences: Comparing Values, Behaviors, Institutions and Organizations Across Nations, 2nd Edn. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Google Scholar

House, R., Javidan, M., Hanges, P., and Dorfman, P. (2002). Understanding cultures and implicit leadership theories across the globe: an introduction to project GLOBE. J. World Business 37, 3–10. doi: 10.1016/S1090-9516(01)00069-4

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Hu, L., and Bentler, P. M. (1999). Cutoff criteria for fit Indexes in covariance structure analysis: conventional criteria versus new alternatives. Struct. Equ. Model. 6, 1–55. doi: 10.1080/10705519909540118

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Hughes, D. J., Lee, A., Tian, A. W., Newman, A., and Legood, A. (2018). Leadership, creativity, and innovation: a critical review and practical recommendations. Leadersh. Q. 29, 549–569. doi: 10.1016/j.leaqua.2018.03.001

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Hutcheson, G., and Sofroniou, N. (1999). The Multivariate Social Scientist. London: Sage.

Google Scholar

Jehn, K. A., and Mannix, E. A. (2001). The dynamic nature of conflict: a longitudinal study of intragroup conflict and group performance. Acad. Manage. J. 44, 238–251. doi: 10.2307/3069453

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Jit, R., Sharma, C. S., and Kawatra, M. (2016). Servant leadership and conflict resolution: a qualitative study. Int. J. Conflict Manage. 27, 591–612. doi: 10.1108/IJCMA-12-2015-0086

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Jit, R., Sharma, C. S., and Kawatra, M. (2017). Healing a broken spirit: role of servant leadership. Vikalpa 42, 80–94. doi: 10.1177/0256090917703754

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Joseph, E. E., and Winston, B. E. (2005). A correlation of servant leadership, leader trust, and organizational trust. Leaders. Org. Dev. J. 26, 6–22. doi: 10.1108/01437730510575552

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Keating, T. (2000). Fruits and Gifts of the Spirit. New York, NY: Lantern Books.

Google Scholar

Lau, D. C., and Liden, R. C. (2008). Antecedents of coworker trust: leaders' lessings. J. Appl. Psychol. 93:1130. doi: 10.1037/0021-9010.93.5.1130

PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Lee, A., Lyubovnikova, J., Tian, A. W., and Knight, C. (2020). Servant leadership: a meta- analytic examination of incremental contribution, moderation, and mediation. J. Occup. Organ. Psychol. 93, 1–44. doi: 10.1111/joop.12265

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Legood, A., van der Werff, L., Lee, A., and Den Hartog, D. (2021). A meta-analysis of the role of trust in the leadership-performance relationship. Eur. J. Work Org. Psychol. 30, 1–22. doi: 10.1080/1359432X.2020.1819241

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Liden, R. C., Wayne, S. J., Meuser, J. D., Hu, J., Wu, J., and Liao, C. (2015). Servant leadership: validation of a short form of the SL-28. Leadersh. Q. 26, 254–269. doi: 10.1016/j.leaqua.2014.12.002

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Liden, R. C., Wayne, S. J., Zhao, H., and Henderson, D. (2008). Servant leadership: development of a multidimensional measure and multi-level assessment. Leaders. Q. 19, 161–177. doi: 10.1016/j.leaqua.2008.01.006

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Little, T. D., Rhemtulla, M., Gibson, K., and Schoemann, A. M. (2013). Why the items versus parcels controversy needn't be one. Psychol. Methods 18, 285–300. doi: 10.1037/a0033266

PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Longman, T. III. (2021). “Theology of wisdom,” in The Oxford Handbook of Wisdom and the Bible, ed W. Kynes (Oxford: Oxford University Press). doi: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780190661267.013.24

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Malingumu, W., Stouten, J., Euwema, M., and Babyegeya, E. (2016). Servant leadership, organisational citizenship behavior and creativity: the mediating role of team-member exchange. Psychol. Belg. 56:342. doi: 10.5334/pb.326

PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Mawere, M., and Van Stam, G. (2016). “Ubuntu/unhu as communal love: critical reflections on the sociology of ubuntu and communal life in sub-Saharan Africa,” in Violence, Politics and Conflict Management in Africa: Envisioning Transformation, Peace and Unity in the Twenty-First Century, eds M. Mawere and N. Marongwe (Bamenda: Langaa; RPCIG), 287–304.

Google Scholar

Mayer, R. C., Davis, J. H., and Schoorman, F. D. (1995). An integrative model of organizational trust. Acad. Manage. Rev. 20, 709–734. doi: 10.5465/amr.1995.9508080335

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

McClendon, P. A. (2015). Paul's Spirituality in Galatians: A Critique of Contemporary Christian Spiritualities. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers.

Google Scholar

National Interfaith Coalition on Aging (1975). Spiritual Well-Being: A Definition. Athens: NICA.

Oberski, D. (2014). Lavaan survey: an R package for complex survey analysis of structural equation models. J. Stat. Softw. 57, 1–27. doi: 10.18637/jss.v057.i01

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Obi, I., and Bollen, K. (2017). “Inclusive HRM in West Africa? Women's religious congregations in Nigeria,” in Shaping Inclusive Workplaces Through Social Dialogue, eds A. Arenas, D. Di Marco, L. Munduate, and M. Euwema (Cham: Springer), 239–250.

Google Scholar

Obi, I.-M. O., Bollen, K., Aaldering, H., Robijn, W., and Euwema, M. C. (2020). Servant leadership, third-party behavior, and emotional exhaustion of followers? Negot. Confl. Manag. Res. doi: 10.1111/ncmr.12184. [Epub ahead of print].

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Oc, B. (2018). Contextual leadership: a systematic review of how contextual factors shape leadership and its outcomes. Leaders. Q. 29, 218–235. doi: 10.1016/j.leaqua.2017.12.004

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Okonkwo, J. (2015). The effects of servant leadership on the socio-moral climate of Catholic parishes and the spiritual well-being of followers (Doctoral dissertation). University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK, United States.

Google Scholar

Oman, D., and Bormann, J. E. (2015). Mantram repetition fosters self-efficacy in veterans for managing PTSD: a randomized trial. Psycholog. Relig. Spiritual. 7:34. doi: 10.1037/a0037994

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Parris, D. L., and Peachey, J. W. (2013). A systematic literature review of servant leadership theory in organizational contexts. J. Business Ethics 113, 377–393. doi: 10.1007/s10551-012-1322-6

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Richert, S. P. (2020). What Are the 12 Fruits of the Holy Spirit? Available online at:

Google Scholar

Rivkin, W., Diestel, S., and Schmidt, K. H. (2014). The positive relationship between servant leadership and employees' psychological health: a multi-method approach. German J Human Resour. Manage. 28, 52–72. doi: 10.1177/239700221402800104

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Roberts, G. (2021). “Fostering workplace well-being through servant leadership,” in The Palgrave Handbook of Workplace Well-Being, ed S. K. Dhiman (Palgrave Macmillan), 211–238. doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-30025-8_9

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Römer, M. (2017). None of my business? Leaders as third parties in employees' conflict (Doctoral dissertation). KU Leuven. Availble online at:

Google Scholar

Römer, M., Rispens, S., Giebels, E., and Euwema, M. C. (2012). A helping hand? The moderating role of leaders' conflict management behavior on the conflict–stress relationship of employees. Negotiation J. 28, 253–277. doi: 10.1111/j.1571-9979.2012.00340.x

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Rosseel, Y. (2012). Lavaan: an R package for structural equation modeling. J. Stat. Softw. 48, 1–36. doi: 10.18637/jss.v048.i02

PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Rousseau, D. M., Sitkin, S. B., Burt, R. S., and Camerer, C. (1998). Not so different after all: a cross-discipline view of trust. Acad. Manage. Rev. 23, 393–404. doi: 10.5465/amr.1998.926617

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Schaubroeck, J., Lam, S. S., and Peng, A. C. (2011). Cognition-based and affect-based trust as mediators of leader behavior influences on team performance. J. Appl. Psychol. 96:863. doi: 10.1037/a0022625

PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Sendjaya, S., Eva, N., Butar, I. B., Robin, M., and Castles, S. (2019). SLBS-6: validation of a short form of the servant leadership behavior scale. J. Business Ethics 156, 941–956. doi: 10.1007/s10551-017-3594-3

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Shim, D. C., Park, H. H., and Eom, T. H. (2016). Public servant leadership: myth or powerful reality? Int. Rev. Public Administr. 21, 3–20. doi: 10.1080/12294659.2016.1147753

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Sousa, M., and Van Dierendonck, D. (2016). Introducing a short measure of shared servant leadership impacting team performance through team behavioral integration. Front. Psychol. 6:2002. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.02002

PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Sousa, M., and Van Dierendonck, D. (2017). Servant leadership and the effect of the interaction between humility, action, and hierarchical power on follower engagement. J. Business Ethics 141, 13–25. doi: 10.1007/s10551-015-2725-y

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Tejeda, M. J. (2015). Exploring the supportive effects of spiritual well-being on job satisfaction given adverse work conditions. J. Business Ethics 131, 173–181. doi: 10.1007/s10551-014-2269-6

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Ten Klooster, F. A. (2019). Aquinas on the fruits of the holy spirit as the delight of the Christian life. J. Moral Theol. 8, 80–94.

Google Scholar

Tjeltveit, A. C. (2003). Implicit virtues, divergent goods, multiple communities: Explicitly addressing virtues in the behavioral sciences. Am. Behav. Sci. 47, 395–414. doi: 10.1177/0002764203256946

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Tjosvold, D., Wan, P., and Tang, M. M. (2016). “Trust and managing conflict: partners in developing organizations,” in Building Trust and Constructive Conflict Management in Organizations, eds P. Elgoibar, M. Euwema, and L. Munduate (Cham: Springer), 53–74.

Google Scholar

Tjosvold, D., Wong, A. S., and Chen, N. Y. F. (2019). “Managing conflict for effective leadership and organizations,” in Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Business and Management (New York, NY: Oxford University Press).

PubMed Abstract | Google Scholar

Tredget, D. A. (2010). Practical wisdom and the Rule of Benedict. J. Manage. Dev. 29, 716–723. doi: 10.1108/02621711011059158

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Van de Vliert, E. (1997). Complex Interpersonal Conflict Behavior: Theoretical Frontiers. Hove: Psychology Press.

Google Scholar

Van Dierendonck, D. (2011). Servant leadership: a review and synthesis. J. Manage. 37, 1228–1261. doi: 10.1177/0149206310380462

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Van Dierendonck, D., and Nuijten, I. (2011). The servant leadership survey: development and validation of a multidimensional measure. J. Business Psychol. 26, 249–267. doi: 10.1007/s10869-010-9194-1

PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Van Dierendonck, D., and Patterson, K. (2015). Compassionate love as a cornerstone of servant leadership: an integration of previous theorizing and research. J. Business Ethics 128, 119–131. doi: 10.1007/s10551-014-2085-z

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Van Dierendonck, D., Stam, D., Boersma, P., De Windt, N., and Alkema, J. (2014). Same difference? Exploring the differential mechanisms linking servant leadership and transformational leadership to follower outcomes. Leadersh. Q. 25, 544–562. doi: 10.1016/j.leaqua.2013.11.014

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Wong, A., Liu, Y., Wang, X., and Tjosvold, D. (2018). Servant leadership for team conflict management, co-ordination, and customer relationships. Asia Pacific J. Human Resour. 56, 238–259. doi: 10.1111/1744-7941.12135

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Zell, A. L., and Baumeister, R. F. (2013). “How religion can support self-control and moral behavior,” in Handbook of the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, eds R. F. Paloutzian and C. L. Park (The Guilford Press), 498–516.

Google Scholar

Zhao, E. Y., Thatcher, S. M., and Jehn, K. A. (2019). Instigating, engaging in, and managing group conflict: a review of the literature addressing the critical role of the leader in group conflict. Acad. Manage. Ann. 13, 112–147. doi: 10.5465/annals.2016.0153

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Zhao, X., Lynch, J. G. Jr , and Chen, Q. (2010). Reconsidering Baron and Kenny: myths and truths about mediation analysis. J. Consumer Res. 37, 197–206. doi: 10.1086/651257

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Keywords: servant leadership, team trust, team conflict, spiritual well-being, convent

Citation: Obi I-M, Aaldering H, Bollen K and Euwema MC (2021) Servant Leadership Stimulates Spiritual Well-Being Through Team Trust in a Female Religious Context. Front. Psychol. 12:630978. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.630978

Received: 18 November 2020; Accepted: 28 June 2021;
Published: 03 September 2021.

Edited by:

Muddassar Sarfraz, Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology, China

Reviewed by:

Kristina Kögler, University of Stuttgart, Germany
Sílvio Manuel da Rocha Brito, Instituto Politécnico de Tomar (IPT), Portugal

Copyright © 2021 Obi, Aaldering, Bollen and Euwema. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

*Correspondence: Innocentina-Marie Obi,;