This has been a hard post to write – several attempts, most of them ranty. The provocation? A survey of the internet for “Agile Servant Leadership”. Try it yourself and quickly be disheartened.
Then again, you might see nothing amiss if you’ve been taught that Servant Leadership is just about serving the team,removing impediments, being a facilitator. The Scrum Master as servant-leader seems a good fit (and in many ways it is). Nothing to see here, move along.
But serving the team is only the beginning. Servant Leadership is also about purpose: discovering it, remaining true to it. It’s outward as well as inward, seeking purpose in the people the team serves, ultimately to society. And it’s transformational, guiding and equipping the organisation so that it is capable of serving its purpose tomorrow as well as today. These aims are not well supported by a narrow understanding of Scrum Mastery, one in which the goal is simply to do better Scrum.
We can do better. Watch out for a series of posts on Servant Leadership through a lens of Lean-Agile transformation, one post for each of the strategies in the Agendashift white paper 6+1 Essential strategies for successful Lean-Agile transformation. Each post will describe ways in which you can exercise Servant Leadership consistently with both Agile values and Lean principles. Put them all together, and you have a model for leadership that is much stronger than the prevailing one, truer also to Greenleaf’s inspirational vision. Let’s reclaim Servant Leadership!