Applied Servant Leadership: 1. Skills

This is the first article proper in a series introduced with It’s time to reclaim Servant Leadership. We’re looking at how, in the practical context of Lean-Agile transformation, we take Servant Leadership beyond “serve the team” or “unblock all the things and get out of the way”.

Skills are the focus of strategy 1 of our white paper 6+1 Essential strategies for successful Lean-Agile transformation and this is an uncontroversial place to start. Few would dispute that developing people is a key responsibility of the servant-leader. To do it justice though, you will need to look beyond your immediate circle of colleagues and forward in time. If you’re thinking only in terms of transferring your own skills, you’re probably not thinking hard enough. Servant Leadership is about helping the organisation become what it needs to become, not about preserving the recipes of the past.

The skills to be competitive

Do you know what a modern, fast, customer-focussed delivery capability looks like? How much of those skills do you have? Let’s break that down a little:

  • Upstream of the first commitment point (the point at which you have decided what to build next): skills of portfolio management and product management, several user-centric skills, service design skills, related business skills and so on
  • Between there and the second commitment point (the point at which you are ready to decide exactly what to ship and when): all the skills  (technology-related and otherwise) required to build product/features/services rapidly and with high quality built in
  • Downstream of there: the skills of deployment, environment management, capacity management, support, and so on, with high levels of automation
  • Inside and around all of that: skills of coordination, organisation/process design (reducing the coordination overhead), strategy, performance management, risk management, improvement, change management, recruitment, facilities etc

What will you do about the gaps? In what timescales?

Remaining competitive into the future

Many of the skills of that last bullet point straddle current operations and future strategy. Does your thinking include future leadership? Who will be the servant-leaders after you’re gone? And here’s a thought: do you include your seniors in that?

Resources

Watch this space for news of 2-day and 3-day leadership training classes organised around the six strategies of the white paper – get in touch if interested in developing this to the needs of your organisation.

[Discuss in our LinkedIn group] [Get the white paper]

[Read the series] [Next in series: Applied Servant Leadership 2: Needs]

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