Dr. Junfeng Wu, an assistant professor in the Organizations, Strategy and International Management Area, has always had a general interest in leadership, but he is especially intrigued by servant leadership.
“The idea of servant leadership really resonates with me because of its strong focus on employees' personal growth and well-being,” he said. “Servant leaders serve their followers, and they also encourage followers to contribute to the community.”
For the second time, the Robert K. Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership named Wu a Greenleaf Scholar. He first earned the honor as a doctoral student in 2016.
Administered through the National Forum on Higher Education for the Public Good at the University of Michigan, the program supports pre-tenured faculty, early career practitioners and advanced graduate students studying the impact of servant leadership in organizational and social contexts. It includes a $2,500 award to support Wu’s research.
“It is a great honor for me to be named a Greenleaf Scholar for a second time,” Wu said. “The first time I was a doctoral student, and with the financial support I was able to conduct my dissertation research on servant leadership and group creativity. For my second time, as a junior faculty, my research proposal is on servant leadership and employee behavior.”
Before arriving at JSOM in fall 2017, Wu received his BA and MA degrees in management from the Renmin University of China. It was while working on his PhD in business administration from the University of Illinois at Chicago that he was first honored as a Greenleaf Scholar.
“It was a great experience,” he said. “My research proposal was evaluated and reviewed by a panel of experts in the field of servant leadership. Their feedback and comments were very helpful to me to develop my idea.”
Wu found that when servant leaders lead teams, they build an environment that is conducive to team creativity. He has begun preliminary research on his next Greenleaf-supported research, which explores servant leadership and employee helping behavior
“When you have a servant leader, employees tend to identify with the leader. When they identify with the leader, they tend to internalize the values of the leader,” he said. “Servant leaders will prioritize followers’ interests and goals. They even put followers’ interests and goals ahead of their own. The servant leaders will bring about followers’ full potential.”
— Rachel S. Master