One of the important responsibilities of an Agile Manager or Scrum Master is to be a Servant Leader. What are the traits of such a leader? Read on.
What is Servant Leadership?
Leadership is about motivating and guiding fellow employees towards a common goal. A Good Agile team is self organizing in nature. Hence the role of an Agile Leader must be adapted to suit such a vibrant team.
A servant leader is someone who actively helps a team to proceed on their journey towards success. Such a leader shields the team, removes impediments, remind the team of their vision and guide them as needed.
Shield the Team
One of the attributes of an effective agile iteration is minimal distraction. An agile leader is in the best position to constantly look out for distractions and shield the team. Here are some ways to do it.
- Involve team members only in necessary meetings and discussions
- Learn to say “No” to stakeholders for actions that might distract the team
- Take reasonable decisions on team’s behalf, thereby allowing them to focus on the iteration
- Represent the team to other stakeholders and minimize direct external communication with team members (to a reasonable extent)
Teams might lose their momentum due to impediments. It is a leader’s responsibility to make sure that impediments are handled in an efficient manner.
Following are common impediments to look out for in an Agile environment:
- Dependencies with other teams
- Waiting for approvals or confirmations from external stakeholders to make decisions
- Internal conflicts
- Lack of clarity
A leader may not be able to clear all impediments by himself but be a facilitator to get them done.
Remind Team Vision
Amidst a series of short iterations with limited goals, it is possible that the team lose sight of the long term vision. It is a servant leader’s responsibility to constantly remind the team about their vision and help clarify doubts that the team may have.
Iteration Review meeting is a good time to restate the vision and also highlight any changes that might have happened during the iteration.Iteration Review is a good time to remind Agile team of Project Vision Click To Tweet
A Scrum Master might request support from Product Manager or Team Manager for this purpose.
Carry food and water
Food and water are necessary for any life to survive. By this we mean that the Servant leader must provide the necessary amenities, in a timely manner, to the team.
Some handy examples are noted here:
- Ensure that the team has a right technical environment to do their job
- Help the team completely understand the iteration goals and the done criteria before commitment
- Secure right amount of support from other key stakeholders like Product Manager
- Coach team members as needed to help achieve the team objectives
A successful Agile team requires an effective Servant Leader. Such a leader is characterized by the following:
- Shield the team from distractions
- Remove impediments and help the team move forward
- Constantly remind the team of project vision
- Make sure the team has all the essentials to succeed
What other attributes in your opinion characterize a servant leader? Share them as comments to this post.