Sprint 3 – Being a Servant Leader 2017-04-23T23:02:12-08:00

Lesson 3, Sprint 3: Servant Leadership

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In implementing agile, the Executive mindset must be adjusted from “command and control” to “inspire and support.”

Estimated Time:
75 minutes

Materials Needed:
Whiteboard, paper easel, marker, management team, devs.


The following workshop gives participants a chance to understand the skills of inspiring and supporting a team, which can only be fully developed over time.  While completing this workshop will not instantly transform the team, it will provide a head start for solving problems and setting the groundwork for success.

As the Executive, it is important that you model the behaviors you want the managers and others on the project to display.  This workshop will explore the qualities of Servant Leadership and invite participants to identify behaviors that display each quality.

As with any term, there are many opinions on the core qualities of a servant leader.  The “Greenleaf” definition is the most common and lists 10 qualities.  

  1. Listening (What do you think?)
  2. Empathy (How do you feel?)
  3. Healing (How can I help?)
  4. Awareness (I notice that you look happy/sad.)
  5. Persuasion (Sell, don’t tell.)
  6. Conceptualization (In a perfect world, how could it be done?)
  7. Foresight (Have a Plan B and Plan C.)
  8. Stewardship (How can I make things better?)
  9. Commitment to the growth of people (Let others lead.)
  10. Building community (We are all in this together.)

Identifying Servant Leadership

This workshop has a simple structure. The facilitator begins by describing servant leadership:

“Servant leadership is a management style where the leader’s primary role is to give team members the tools they need and to remove impediments, then trust the group to use those tools to succeed.”  

The group is separated into groups of 5-10, each gathered around a flip chart. The facilitator shares the Greenleaf list, which will give participants some general ideas of servant leadership methods. The facilitator then instructs the groups to list specific examples of servant leadership on their boards, using the Greenleaf list as a guide.

For example:

“People are allowed to talk and give feedback during meetings” might be a real-world example of the concept of “Listening”.

“Management asks how subordinates are feeling about their workload” might be a real-world example of the concept of “Healing”.

“Management is willing to take blame for poor decisions” might be a real-world example of the concept of “Stewardship”.

Give the group 15-20 minutes to make a nice list. Then ask each group to report on their list and explain their examples. Discuss any similarities or differences between the lists and the Greenleaf standards of Servant Leadership.

Next, have the groups cross off items on their list that are lacking in their current work environment. (10 – 15 min). Then each group reports why they crossed off some items and left others.

The facilitator now addresses the entire group:

You can see the recipe for servant leadership and you have some of the ingredients and not others. What can you do as an Executive/Manager/Lead Programmer/etc. to make your recipe better?

Give the group some time to speak up and tell you. This exercise will start the wheels of change turning in your organization.

You’ve completed Sprint 3!

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