What is servant leadership?

Servant leadership is the idea that the main goal of someone in a leadership position is to serve others. A true servant leader will put other people’s needs and priorities first, and help people develop and perform as highly as possible. When reading and learning about the Scrum framework you will most often see servant leadership associated with the role of the Scrum Master.

“The Scrum Master is a servant-leader for the Scrum Team.” - The Scrum Guide.

The Scrum Master role is not a management role and works best when the scrum master has no traditional line management duties, especially line management of any team members. Good Scrum Masters should lead without having to rely on authority or force, they should lead by inspiring and serving others. The team will choose to follow a good Scrum Master.

Practically this means a good scrum master acts as a servant leader to the scrum team in several ways:

  • Removing impediments that get in the team’s way.
  • Coach/Mentor/Train the team, as appropriate, to build and continuously improve their ways of working in line with agile practices and principles.
  • Facilitating valuable events and interactions for the team.
  • Coaching the rest of the organization in which the team works to enable them to best serve the team.

In this way, a good scrum master measures their own success by the growth and success of others, both in their team and in the wider organization; they succeed by inspiring others to greatness.

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