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Each of us already instinctually understands the qualities a Servant Leader must possess. These are qualities we admire in other great leaders.

Agile Servant Leadership Assessment
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Agile Servant Leadership Assessment

Every agile book that you pick up discusses the topic of leadership on an agile team. One of the cornerstones of any successful agile implementation is the concept of servant leadership

Servant leadership was coined by Robert K. Greenleaf in “The Servant as Leader”, an essay that he first published in 1970.  The business dictionary defines Servant leaderships as:

Servant leadership stresses the importance of the role a leader plays as the steward of the resources of a business or other organization, and teaches leaders to serve others while still achieving the goals set forth by the business.

In fact, it is hard to imagine a successful team without self organization, accountability, and transparency.  Having Scrum Masters, Product Owners, and Managers with servant leader skills can make all the difference on your team’s journey.

If you are interested in applying Servant Leadership skills to agile-specific roles check out our courses page. 

In every agile implementation, I am asked, “How will I know who will make a good servant leader?”  My answer is always the same, “Everyone can be a servant leader – some people just may have to work at it a little more than others.” 

The next question I hear is, “What are the qualities of a servant leader?”

I have devised a simple test to help people identify servant leader qualities: 

Step 1

Write down the names of 4 leaders that you admire. These may be people at your current or previous jobs, community leaders, civic leaders, or anyone else that you look up to. 

Step 2

Write down 4 qualities that stand out for each of the leaders.   When you are done you should have 4 names with 4 qualities for each leader, for a total of 16 qualities.

Step 3

Choose and circle the top 4 qualities you think are the most important in a leader.

BAM! I will bet the top 4 qualities you have chosen are all qualities of a Servant Leader. Each of us already instinctually understands the qualities a Servant Leader must possess.  These are qualities we admire in other great leaders.  

Each person’s top qualities might be different, and that is ok.  This is a personal test to highlight the qualities we find the most important and the same qualities each of us are striving improve upon in our journey to become better leaders.  

So the answer to the question, “What are the qualities of a Servant Leader?” is this:  You already know what they are, you just need to look at the great leaders around you.

If you would like more information about leadership or to learn how One80 Services can help your company implement a Servant Leadership culture, check out our Agile Leadership or Leadership Conversation courses or contact us for more information.

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