Servant Leadership

Structure: A Servant Leader helps a team to inspect and adapt the iterative process they follow. The leader resolves any dependencies that the team may encounter so that they do not become impediments that would compromise the incremental release of value. The leader also represents and advocates the team’s position to external stakeholders, so that the team are not approached directly and remain free to self-organize around their goal.

Intent: Protect a team from distraction and impediment, and facilitate their progression towards their goals.


  • The utmost form of respect is to give sincerely of your presence

  • Sow a thought and you reap an action, sow an act and you reap a habit

  • Noblesse oblige

Also Known As:

  • Scrum Master (this term is not used exclusively in a Scrum context)

Motivation: If a team is to self-organize in order to meet a goal, they must be permitted the freedom to do so, and provided with the guidance and support they need. This implies that a manager is needed who can smooth their progress and help them to make and meet their commitments. In short good leadership is required, and the best leaders serve their team…the team does not serve them.

Applicability: Servant Leadership is applicable to all agile methods. The term Scrum Master is commonly used to describe this role, and is no longer restricted to Scrum alone.

Consequences: Servant Leadership can involve a wider remit of organizational coaching. If impediments originate from other departments, there may be political barriers to their removal.

Implementation: The canonical implementation of Servant Leadership is the Scrum Master. A Coach in Extreme Programming has a similar remit, as does the Team Leader in DSDM. It is common for all of these to be referred to as Scrum Masters.

See Also: