Are you a Servant Leader?

Transforming any business is difficult. Transforming a government bureaucracy is almost impossible. It was of interest when a government consultant friend of mine talked to me about his work recently. 

He related that he began, over time, to set other people up for success. He began mentoring his leaders and their people. Providing them the information and decisions they needed to be successful. Then those leaders communicated in larger groups where they began to give their people a voice.  And that started to make a positive difference in their organization. 

Then his leadership and team started to do the same thing with other people in all the other areas of the organization. Those groups also began to communicate their work in a way that reflected well on the organization, and those people started to give credit to folks within their organization and then to my friend’s people as well. No one took credit for themselves. Everyone was supportive and encouraging each other as they were figuring out how to bring Agile practices to their organization.  


It was as if the work that had happened occurred by sheer magic… 


And then my friend said, “servant leadership, who would have thought?” 


Servant leadership, who would have thought. 


Where mentoring, coaching and engaging over time matters and makes a difference. 


Where the team is the focus. 


Where there is a focus on bringing new ideas and new processes to the team. 


Where curiosity, persistence and consistency shape understanding toward more valuable Agile practices. 


Where leadership pushes others’ ideas forward. 


Where leadership takes no credit for success but owns failure often. 


Where leadership supports the decisions and wishes of their teams. 


To lead as a servant means valuing courage, truthfulness, transparency.  


To lead as a servant means a commitment to inspecting work continually. It means being ready and willing to change whatever hinders the work. 


To lead as a servant means aligning words and action to the value of pushing decisions down to the team. It means knowing that the team, motivated by their own commitments, comes together to do the work. 


And it means the leader is most content and satisfied when the teams get all the credit for the successes. When the leader is not seen as the “most important person”, but the team is seen as most important. 


Leading as a servant is an act of trust; it is an act of gardening new ideas and attitudes. But mostly it is reflected in continual acts of humility. All with the desire to produce work that satisfies co-workers and delights customers.  


Any resistance to change in an organization first reflects the attitude of leadership. 


What kind of leader are you?

Jeff Fox

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