PurposeThis study aims to include two major objectives. Firstly, Frederick’s leadership is explored and characterized. Secondly, it is examined as to why a leader may (or may not) adopt servant leadership behavior in the case of Frederick II, King of Prussia.Design/methodology/approachThe applied methodology is a historical examination of Frederick II’s leadership, an eighteenth-century’s monarch who has the reputation of being the “first servant of the state.” The analysis is conducted from the perspective of modern servant leadership research.FindingsThis study shows Frederick remains a rather non-transparent person of contradictions. The authors identified multiple reasons which explain why a leader may adopt servant leadership. Frederick’s motives to adopt a certain leadership behavior appear timeless and, thus, he most likely shares the same antecedents with today’s top executives.Research limitations/implicationsThe authors identified various antecedents of individual servant leadership dimensions, an under-research area to date.Originality/valueTo the best of authors’ knowledge, this study is the first to look at Frederick's leadership style through the lens of modern servant leadership.
Journal of Management History – Emerald Publishing
Published: Apr 14, 2020