One of the greatest challenges organizations face in Agile transformations is transforming traditional managers into Agile leaders. An Agile manager’s role is quite different than a traditional manager. Agile managers don’t assign projects and tasks to individuals. Agile managers don’t tell team members how to do their work.
According to the Robert K. Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership “A servant-leader focuses primarily on the growth and well-being of people and the communities to which they belong. While traditional leadership generally involves the accumulation and exercise of power by one at the “top of the pyramid,” servant leadership is different. The servant-leader shares power, puts the needs of others first and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible.”
Everybody who follow Scrum practices knows the role of Scrum Master is a servant leadership but what happens with the rest of managers in the company? Well, managers has to adapt to Agile methodology or they must step aside and let those who are willing to change, lead. Unfortunately, if you said this, most directors will answer you: “I am not planning to fire anyone of my managers”. Indeed, the idea is to coach Managers and directors to follow Agile practices. However, if someone is reluctant to become an Agile servant leadership the best option is to talk with him about his exit.
Many times team members was referring about me as an anti-manager (in my role of Scrum Master) because of requesting things for each team member in order to remove any impediment or block which they could have to do their jobs properly.
For instance, to motivate teams the managers have to think about allowing each team member to work at home once a week, leave earlier on Fridays, listen about some improvement to products, or innovate in business process or let team members time to create some products.
Servant leadership does not begin and end with the Scrum Master. Servant leadership must exist at all levels of the organization in order to achieve true Agility. Without such a commitment, organizations will continue to struggle to achieve the true benefits of Agility.