Hear from the Expert:

Combatting Toxic Work Cultures Begins with Better Leadership Says Prof. Maria Pressentin

By Cheyenne Heckermann on Mar 29, 2022
Maria Pressentin With the continuing upheaval in the job market of employees quitting en-masse, many are familiar with a chorus of employers asking, “Why?” For many employees, they abandon work cultures and leaders they find toxic, leaving them feeling unimportant, uncared for, and more. Many employees also find that these cultures and behaviors result in dissatisfaction and lack of fulfillment, with great overlap between these issues. Workplaces treat them poorly and display lack of care toward their needs that would bring them a sense of satisfaction in the workplace and improve their relationship with their team and company goals. As a result, employees are seeking fulfillment elsewhere. However, when these issues are resolved and employees are treated well, their sense of fulfillment increases engagement and company growth. The key is the right style of leadership.
Prof. Maria Pressentin from the International School of Management, France, and Leadership Scientific, writes about how Servant Leadership is a crucial change for organizations to make to avoid degradation of both the company and its employees. It accounts for shifts in the workforce including new skilled workers in multi-generational workforces while still paying attention to the needs of other employees. Prof. Pressentin elaborates more on how to implement this crucial form leadership in her title, Key Factors and Use Cases of Servant Leadership Driving Organizational Performance.
This publication intends to provide global scientific evidence that a universal leadership style motivated by Service to Others growth and wellbeing mindset, followed by relevant behaviors, have a tangible effective outcome to eradicate toxicity in organizations, even during times of crisis. This book is her hope that organizations would pay more attention to Servant Leadership and consider putting it into practice to enhance teams and leader-team member relations, as a result of building more engaging and fulfilling co-worker bonding. This book provides evidence of Servant Leadership’s application effectiveness and ROI in helping individuals and teams in their communication to enhance collaboration, build trust and to handle change.
Below, Prof. Pressentin shares details of why Servant Leadership makes a difference, the importance of its implementation, and how employees, leaders, and businesses alike can benefit from this valuable research.
Key Factors and Use Cases of Servant Leadership Driving Organizational Performance
Prof. Maria Pressentin (International School of Management, France)
©2022 | 368 pgs. | EISBN: 9781799888222
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Prof. Pressentin, could you tell us a bit about yourself?
Prof. Pressentin: I’m someone that is passionate about human behaviors and their impact on others. Often, people set their intentions, that turn into actions, and impact the business, so I’m a student of human behaviors and I have a tendency to learn from everyone to develop self-awareness and to help others create their own self-awareness. I find this to be very helpful in my coaching and consulting practice with leaders and organizations, as people tend to feel empowered with what they uncover and then they can take charge of their future they want to create for themselves. The studies I have done in Servant Leadership are a big part that support the cultivation of behaviors that empower people in their lives, so I’m fascinated about going deeper on the topic.
Prof. Pressentin: Having consulted hundreds of multinational organizations for over 15 years globally, and as I learned what leadership styles work well, satisfactorily, and less well, I realized through my professional observations and scholarly research that people are seeking a set of behaviors and practical guidance, with tangible evidence of a more universal and modern times apt leadership style. This is because organizational cultural toxicity can show up in diverse levels in daily interactions, stemming from relations between: peer-to-peer, leader-follower, within teams, amongst generations, and amongst differences in hierarchical statuses. Toxic cultures can go from a very subtle brushing off someone’s request, to aggression. Over the years, my clients have presented a range of complaints about how they’ve been treated at their workplace, both by their managers and their peers, causing them to feel unmotivated, unfulfilled, nauseous, panicked, and fearful. Overtime, major issues come up apart from lack of engagement, such as high attrition and sabotaging the future of the company because people feel unimportant, uncared for, and disrespected. This organizational malpractice can be stopped with the application of simple techniques on Servant Leadership across the critical mass.
What are some of the benefits of your research to its community?
Prof. Pressentin: I’ve been developing leaders and teams for over 15 years, and for the past decade, I have placed special attention on the generational transitions and cultural adaptability of different leadership styles. The research evidence tells us that a leadership style focused on Service, tends to be universally appealing. Yet, we need to be aware of the cultural and generational nuances to adapt a universal concept into an existing environment.
I would say, that when the cultural and generational adaptation requirements are understood from a particular environment, the benefits of application of the mindset of Service, as a leadership style, can propagate a lot faster.
Benefits are enormous, as evidence shows, no matter the culture, people may have a certain level of appreciation for power. However, they prefer to have their leader interacting with them through soft power rather than hard power, because the former helps them grow and shows them respect, so they are naturally motivated to engage and to perform.
Because Servant Leadership operates with the values of appreciation and empowerment, it creates a safe environment that enables inclusion of members in groups, supporting individuals uniqueness in their contribution and enhancing their sense of belonging. Employees have reported a heighted psychological safety for them to voice out their ideas, concerns, their independent thinking is encouraged leading to more engaging interactions and ultimately better collaboration for performance.
Interviews with team members have demonstrated that when leaders interact with Servant Leadership behaviors, their respect for their leader rises, leading them to the desire to emulate their leaders and to follow. Ultimately, they stay in the organization because they respect and trust their leader that has been showing a higher level of care.
Organizations would do well to explore this concept deeper given the positive economic consequences of minimizing attrition, rising engagement, augmented contribution and innovation when employees feel they are important and worthy.
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How is your publication different than others within your field?
Prof. Pressentin: The research in Servant Leadership has been around for three decades, relating to a large variety of topics. The need I saw with my clients and in education, is the business case to bring about Servant Leadership’s applied knowledge. There is a lot of theory and it’s great work! Now it’s time to put it into practice, so I felt compelled to gather a group of great academic and consulting colleagues around the world to work with me on this book with the focus on bringing evidence of where, how and why Servant Leadership is benefiting the society in diverse industries and across geographies.
This book is a compilation of global evidence of Servant Leadership at play and driving organizational performance, regardless the type of organization.
It’s comprehensive!
What are some future directions for your research?
Prof. Pressentin: Now, in the early 21st Century, we are experiencing a shortage of skilled workforce, as the previous generations begin to leave their employment and the young are joining in. The Covid pandemic has made many people reformulate the meaning of their lives as it relates to how they want to spend their time, effort, interactions, and whom, how and where they would like to impact, professionally. The young are asking sensible questions about how they can contribute to the society and environment. There is a huge opportunity for the research in Servant Leadership to consider these modern themes of preparing the leaders tomorrow, today, and helping shape them through their Service passion.
Those that benefit from Servant Leaders, tend to emulate their leaders and are passionate in becoming good or better leaders themselves. This is a very interesting research direction around mentoring/coaching, and their role in shaping new generation of organizational cultures.
What are other areas that your readership would find of interest?
Prof. Pressentin: Organizations are still trying to figure out how hybrid work could work better, as employees are not feeling the care and interaction needed by their leaders. It is a very difficult situation, as leadership skills assume that the leader needs to take full responsibility for their employees and it adds on load to the leaders, as they are only just human. It would be interesting to actually pay more focus on the concept of followership and how to empower them with leadership skills, and how to manage up for better collaboration, so that their sense of self-worth and contribution may come from being self-reliant, rather dependent of their leaders’ availability.
Attrition is the modern norm! What organizational human capital strategies can be explored?
Entrepreneurial concepts such as corporate entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship are on the rise and a huge opportunity!
How did you come to publish with IGI Global?
Prof. Pressentin: It was a very interesting incidence where I was first invited to write a chapter for a book to be published by IGI Global. The name of my chapter was: “The Servant Leadership Movement: How Might Universal Leadership Behaviors Serve Millennials in Asia?” in the book Cases on Global Leadership in the Contemporary Economy, edited by Prof. Ivonne Chirino-Klevans (Kenan-Flagler Business School, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, USA & International School of Management, Paris, France). I had really enjoyed the experience and the rigorous attitude towards high standards of research and peer-review by the publisher. I felt that IGI Global to be a very solid scientific publisher to partner with.
After that chapter, I had this urge to write about Servant Leadership again as I had just finished a massive eight-country study on the topic. As this idea of showcasing a business case for the Servant Leadership vis-à-vis organizational performance came up, I had spoken with several organizational leaders who said they would be eager to support and participate in furthering this research, I felt that IGI Global would give me the support to get this book accomplished in an efficient and non-overwhelming way.
What has your experience been like publishing with IGI Global?
Prof. Pressentin: IGI Global has given me great support! The people at IGI Global are very responsive and I loved the structure and clarity. Authors love to focus on content, and what IGI Global does, was to do the back-end and let the authors focus on what they do best. This is the ideal!

Prof. Pressentin’s Key Factors and Use Cases of Servant Leadership Driving Organizational Performance is available in print and electronic format with free shipping on orders over US$ 395.* Additionally, it is featured in the IGI Global Business Knowledge Solutions e-Book Collection (2,200+ Books). Recommend this title to your library and colleagues or acquire it today to continue to support his research and receive access to his highly cited title.
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About Prof. Maria Pressentin:
Prof. Maria Pressentin, Ph.D., MBA, MR, IDT, ACC is the Chief Knowledge Officer at Leadership ScientificTM, a global consultancy specialized in building leadership capacity and transmuting toxic organizational cultures. She has a consistent track record of success in reducing companies’ attrition rate, raising employee work-passion by connecting the people’s purpose to organizational results through her ground-breaking research on Servant Leadership. She is a professor at the International School of Management, France, as well as at the Emeritus Institute of Management, Singapore. Maria is the Editor-in-Chief at IGI Global Publications, USA, for the book Key Factors and Used Cases of Servant Leadership Driving Organizational Performance, where she also co-authored a few chapters. Maria has been awarded as a Top 100 Best Global Coaching & Leadership Professional by the Global HRD Congress. She was honored twice as the Iconic Woman for Creating a Better World for All by the Women Economic Forum. Maria is also a two-time-consecutive Best Researcher award-winner from the ACPSB academic accreditation council, in Paris, and in Houston for the title: “The 4 Key Ingredients in Building Social Entrepreneurial Leaders in the For-Profit World.”
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