Servant Leadership is a term used to describe how the leaders in an organisation can make themselves available to team members, guiding them and helping them on a journey to fulfilment. They are not leveraging power to exert influence on the team, rather they are giving power to the team.
A really simple example of this comes up almost daily in the Easy Agile team. We start the day with coffee and a daily huddle. Our 'opportunity teams' sync up on what's good, what they are up to today, and any blockers. Dave and I, as the founders of the business, are there to step in immediately following the daily huddle and remove any of those blockers.
In short, we want the team to move as fast as possible and we want to put them before any other events on our calendar. Remove the blocker, then move on.
Some of the highlights you'll explore as you read the book include:
Gil talks about the role of the Agile Team Leader (ATL). In my experience this is typically a role that someone takes on, not a job title. This person does not manage or control the work, rather she facilitates the interactions and activities of the team so they can deliver their best work most effectively.
The 'agile team leader', be they are tech lead or product owner, sits in that role of servant leader. They support the team and help the team grow and flourish without the need for a reporting hierarchy. They connect the team and their work with the rest of the organisation, identifies root causes and stops small problems from growing into big ones.
At Easy Agile Dave and I fill that role of the 'agile team leader' today, and we have emerging leaders at various levels in the company too which is super exciting.
Being a servant leader requires a shift in the interaction with a team, for example some common questions may be:
A few things to keep in mind if you are new to servant leadership:
In short, this is an eight year old book from which many folks can still learn a lot of lessons. We're not all maturing at the same rate on our agile journeys, and there is a lot of perspective we can pull on to help us accelerate our transformations.
Nick Muldoon is Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Easy Agile. He previously worked at Atlassian as a Product Manager for GreenHopper / Jira Agile and at Twitter coaching product and engineering leaders to be servant leaders.
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