Jim Goodnight’s Transformational Servant Leadership

Check out more papers on Leadership Motivation Servant Leadership

Jim Goodnight has raddled the spectrum on the common-thought methods of leadership. His drastic distinction of what it means to be a leader versus a manager has brought much attention to the privately-owned company, SAS. His ability to capture qualities of a transformational, authentic and servant leader have proven successful for his company. Our group determined that Goodnight most resembles a transformational leader according to the following analysis. From the material, we learn that Goodnight self-describes himself as a transformational leader. Goodnight’s ability to ensure his employees know they are important to the overall success of the company, engage in developmental consideration, and ability to communicate his vision are all attributes of a transformational leader. Firstly, Goodnight’s understanding that his employees are essential to the success of SAS displays his transformational leadership qualities. In the video, Goodnight discusses the strategy of SAS.

Goodnight states that SAS is “founded on the philosophy of forming lasting relationships with our customers, our business partners, and our employees”. This shows his acknowledgement that not only do customers play a large part in the success of the company; but also, the employees. Without its employees, SAS wouldn’t be where they are today. Also, transformational leadership can also be described as putting employees first, then customers and stockholders last. This concept suggests that if employees are preforming well, then customers and stockholders will follow. Making the connection that employees are an integral part of the organization has been a great strength for Goodnight. As other company’s notice Goodnight’s success, they attribute it mostly to his privately-owned entity. In Goodnight’s interview, he states that more companies do not adopt his practices because they are influenced by the short-term objectives of shareholders. The freedom from shareholders has allowed SAS to soar in the industry and continue to flourish. In addition, Goodnight’s engagement of developmental consideration is evident in his vast opportunities to help employees grow and excel in their positions.

The video mentions a pleasant work environment, exercise facilities, private work stations, necessary up to date equipment, and reduced work hours as some of the options that Goodnight provides so that his employees can grow and flourish in the workplace. Goodnight’s transformational leadership style is attributed to his involvement in keeping his employees happy and healthy, while providing a good working environment. This demonstrates how he wants his employees to be taken care of both in and outside of the workplace as Goodnight helps his employees become more productive. For example, SAS offers an on-site daycare allowing parents to enjoy eating lunch with their children. In addition, in-house health facilities that care for employees and their families with short waiting time are offered, which get employees back to work with very little loss of work time. Another perk is the fitness center. Employees can work-out and even play pool during office hours. Our favorite perk is the inclusion of social workers. Socials workers assist employees with life events such as finding a good nursing home for the employee’s parents. All these things are a big plus in reducing stress for an employee. Goodnight wants a stress-free environment for his employees and their families.

The employees like and appreciate the perks offered to them as Goodnight’s goal is to “remove distractions that keep people from focusing on their jobs and also reduce stress that comes from dealing with common demands of life”. This displays his effort too supply his employees with tools for success. Finally, Goodnight also portrays the transformational leader as he can communicate his vision for SAS. In the video, we learn of SAS’s core of being built on relationships. They are not focused on transactional purchases or making the most profit. They pride themselves on “critical relations with leading edge software and services, together form[ing] the basic elements of our success”. This statement says that they are committed to providing the best product for its users. This type of approach in such an ever-evolving industry has seemed to work tremendously well for SAS over the years. This is what sets them apart from others in the industry. Their ability to provide great customer support has brought back customers year after year. In addition, they listen to their customers wants and needs. Having user group meetings and developmental priority conferences have kept them ahead of the pace in the technological industry.

On the other spectrum, we also believe Goodnight has traits of a servant leader because he acknowledges that human ingenuity, not technology, are the chief drivers at SAS. For example, the implementation of SAS’s work hour scheduling program, which focuses on meeting the needs of employees by offering different start times to accommodate for life occurrence (e.g., personal, family) and a 35-hour work schedule to ensure that everyone has personal time. In addition, servant leadership is exhibited by how he cares about the customers. He requires that all customer suggestions for product improvements be recorded, reviewed annually and placed on a survey for customers to rank. He also displays his servant leadership through his care for his employees. As a servant leader, Goodnight puts the needs of his employees first. SAS allows for the personal development of its employees so that they may reach peak performance. Goodnight works hard to serve his employees, going above and beyond the norm. Servant leadership is meant to inspire a level of engagement in employees that is not seen through more traditional leadership methods.

Goodnight also shows traits of authentic leadership. He believes in treating his employees well and values their productivity, but also emphasizes his legitimacy through meaningful interactions with his employees. This creates honest workplace interactions where the employees feel valued and that their input matters. Employees in return respect and work hard for Goodnight and the company. Goodnight is seen as an honest man who promotes openness. Overall, we do believe that Goodnight displays all the leadership styles, but he aligns most as a transformational leader as discussed above. 

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

SAS has adopted practices such as their management techniques, performance management and pay practices to enhance its employee’s motivation, encourage retention and performance. Goodnight fulfills some of the needs within Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs at the physiological, physiological and self-actualization levels.


Goodnight motivates his employees by meeting their physiological needs such as money and healthcare. Money, being a necessity to achieve items such as food, water and shelter are deemed the basics. It is important to mention that Goodnight does not believe that money is a very effective motivator. But, the competitive salaries and knowing their contributions are valued, keep employees around. Knowing that they are a part of the success at SAS makes coming to work each day worth it. Achieving this physiological need is just the tipping stone on how Goodnight motivates his employees. In addition, employees feel cared for as SAS provides on-site health professionals and low deductible health plans. This allows SAS employees to blossom into productive company assets.


The employees of SAS feel as though they have a sense of belonging amongst not only each other, but management as well. This sense of social belonging not only caters to the third level of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, but also helps them with their self-esteem. SAS employees are very likely to receive recognition from their peers and supervisors and feel respected in the workplace. Goodnight continuously reminds his employees that their contribution does not go unnoticed, and they are essential to SAS’s success.


Lastly, SAS employees can achieve self-actualization by reaching their full potential. Having an open, welcoming, and accommodating workplace for employees to thrive and capitalize on their skills motivate employee’s to be ‘the best they can be’. As far as self-transcendence is concerned, Goodnight is the clearest example of this. Through self-actualization and success, he has been able to work towards higher outside goals through his good deeds and humanitarianism. Overall, SAS is a great example of a company that satisfies Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Interactional Justice Theory

Regarding their management techniques, SAS is adamant about treating their employees as adults. Goodnight believes if you treat employees with respect, you will receive the same in return. Goodnight also mentions that he believes in internal motivation; “coaching and mentoring rather than monitoring and controlling”. Our group really appreciated this sense of mutual respect in the workplace as we feel employees can prosper in this type of environment. Giving employees autonomy in their work will enhance their motivation and build on the success of the company.

Self-determination Theory

As discussed previously, self-determination is a large part of the inherent growth that is molded at SAS. Employees work in their own offices, acquire training for their jobs and work on their own or with a team to develop software for companies. Goodnight provides his employees with the necessary tools to perform their jobs, while holding them accountable. Also, SAS provides semi-yearly feedback to its employees. Our group appreciated this inclusion as it provides a ‘progress report’ for them. Notice of hard work and areas for improvement are beneficial to workplace behavior. Making employees feel as though they are in control of their actions will heighten their internal motivation and feed their need to preform to the best of their abilities.

Expectancy Theory

Expectancy theory is evident as employee’s hard work and are rewarded with a stress-free environment, alongside all the perks SAS offers. Goodnight values his employees and wants to make sure they come back the following day. The employees know that if they perform their jobs well that they are to expect a certain amount of compensation, both fiscally and through other benefits such as free M&M’s on Wednesdays. Employees at SAS are rewarded handsomely by the institution’s management. The package and the rewards that the employees receive are to the level of their expectations. Therefore, they are satisfied and continue offering their loyal services to the company.

Procedural Justice Theory

The Procedural justice theory of motivation applies to SAS because employee’s satisfaction stems from feeling valued and being compensated fairly. Fairness in the way benefits are distributed makes employees feel confident in the company’s management. It also makes them feel the company appreciates the effort that they invest in the company. Unfairness and injustice

have been a major cause of conflict in organizations, resulting in high employee turnover for example. Besides income as a variable of justice in organization, the management’s commitment to attending to employees’ issues also matters. Managers at SAS are highly committed to the welfare of the employee and determined to make them comfortable at work. It is important for organizations to recognize that other than the work of the company, employees also have personal lives. For example, at SAS, employees can have lunch with their children and finish the work day to venture home and spend time with their families. The company needs to be fair and provide employees with a well-balanced work-life schedule, which is exactly what SAS provides.

Operant Conditioning Tool

Goodnight utilizes the operant conditioning tool as he makes distinct classifications for rewards and consequences of actions. His nontraditional take on the tool allows for his employees to capitalize on rewards and avoid consequences. Some consequences that could occur are software bugs and, or loss of trust. Because SAS is a top competitor, they have the pressure to always provide the best products. Employees are aware of the consequence that comes with ill-prepared products, as this will reflect on the company. Also, being that SAS is foundationally built on trust, it is important for them to do all in their power to keep this. Once trust is lost, it is difficult to get it back. Our group felt that a superior trusting their employee strengthens their relationship overall. Having someone constantly monitoring you make it feel as though you are incapable of completing tasks appropriately. Therefore, we feel this consequence is a reminder for employees to remain trustworthy and abide by SAS’s core values.

Goodnight’s ability to communicate this to his employee is the reason SAS is so successful. Avoiding these ‘consequences’ lead to competitive salaries, day care, onsite health professionals, food, and low deductible health plans; SAS employees are well rewarded. Overall, our group determined that utilizing the operant conditioning tool at SAS has created a successful business model for the company, and employees. 3.

Implementing SAS practices into the manufacturing and service interties would possibly show similar success as Goodnight has seen. Meeting the basic needs that individuals prioritize, offering opportunities for them to grow, and giving them the tools to be successful would be practices from SAS that could be implemented. Given that the technological world is considerably different than the service and manufacturing interties. From watching the Lincoln Electric video, we notice that the manufacturing workplace is constantly moving and physically demanding.

The basic needs of providing fair compensation would enhance employee’s motivation and performance. In addition, providing workers with the ability to move to different positions or making a hierarchical jump with performance is an option. Ensuring employees know they are not in a position of “a means to end” will encourage motivation as well. Finally, providing employees with the proper training to successfully perform their job can also increase motivation. In service and manufacturing jobs, they could possibly handle large equipment or work in dangerous conditions. It is more cost effective to provide employees preventive measures to eliminate costs in the future. Ensuring all employees endure training for their safety will enhance their performance. Overall, instilling some of SAS’s practices could enhance employees’ motivation and performance, but adjustments should be made to compliment the industry.

Did you like this example?

Cite this page

Jim Goodnight's Transformational Servant Leadership. (2022, Feb 06). Retrieved April 22, 2024 , from

Save time with Studydriver!

Get in touch with our top writers for a non-plagiarized essays written to satisfy your needs

Get custom essay

Stuck on ideas? Struggling with a concept?

A professional writer will make a clear, mistake-free paper for you!

Get help with your assignment
Leave your email and we will send a sample to you.
Stop wasting your time searching for samples!
You can find a skilled professional who can write any paper for you.
Get unique paper

I'm Amy :)

I can help you save hours on your homework. Let's start by finding a writer.

Find Writer