Managing bullying in the workplace: a model of servant leadership, employee resilience and proactive personality

Saima Ahmad, Talat Islam, Amrik Singh Sohal, Julie Wolfram Cox, Kaleem Ahmad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: This paper develops and tests a model for managing workplace bullying by integrating employee perceived servant leadership, resilience and proactive personality. Specifically, this paper explores servant leadership as an inhibitive factor for workplace bullying, both directly and indirectly in the presence of employee resilience as a mediator. It further explores whether proactive personality moderates the indirect relationship. Design/methodology/approach: This is an empirical study based on analysis of survey data collected from 408 employees working in services and manufacturing sector organisations in Pakistan. Structural equation modelling was used to test the research model. Findings: Structural equation modelling results support the proposition that servant leadership helps in discouraging workplace bullying, both directly and indirectly, in the presence of employee resilience as a mediator. However, employee proactive personality moderates this process, such that the association between resilience and workplace bullying is stronger for individuals with high proactive personality. Research limitations/implications: This study's findings illuminate the strong potential of servant leadership for managing workplace bullying. This potential is attributed to positive role modelling in the workplace, which may assist in building followers' resilience. This study provides evidence to support the importance of leadership in the process by which employees develop better psychological resources to combat bullying at work. Originality/value: This is the first study that examines the direct relationship between servant leadership and bullying at work. In addition, this study introduced the mediating effect of resilience and the moderating effect of proactive personality on this relationship.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1613-1631
Number of pages19
JournalPersonnel Review
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021


  • Quantitative
  • Resilience
  • Servant leadership
  • Workplace bullying
  • Proactive personality

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