Scrum, one of the most popular project management tools, recently shifted away from the concept of “servant leadership,” but its values continue to be important to embody.
- Scrum is a project management framework created by Ken Schwabera and Jeff Sutherland in 1995 to build team structure and manage the values of a team.
- A regular Scrum Guide is released by consulting firm Scrum Inc.—with details and updates the processes of the original framework.
- The 2020 Scrum Guide removed all references to the term “servant leadership,” but that does not mean it is not an important concept.
- Scrum Master and experienced Agile coach Darcy DeClute argues in a recent op-ed that the values of servant leadership are still vital for Scrum practitioners.
Why It’s Important
Scrum.org CEO Dave West noted that the term “servant leadership” was not removed from the guide simply because it was being phased out but because of a decision to make the language of the text more precise. “Servant-leader was removed from the latest Scrum Guide not because Scrum masters aren’t servant leaders, but because they’re leaders first who serve,” he says.
DeClute notes that servant leaders have an important role to play in representing the core values of scrum leadership, that a servant leader “removes impediments that block the Scrum team’s progress, respects the rights of developers to self-manager, provides clarity to the team in terms of what is expected from them, based on the Scrum Guide, creates a psychologically safe environment for the team, [and] leads by example with demonstrated adherence to the Scrum values.”
Scrum practitioners must live out the values of commitment, focus, openness, respect, and courage as they work to build a highly motivated, sustainable, and respectful workplace and lead by example as servant leaders.
“Army generals lead their soldiers using a command-and-control approach to leadership. Scrum masters prefer the servant-leader approach. A servant-leader is someone who puts the well-being of the team they lead before their own personal, short-term self-interests. A servant leader knows that propelling the team to success and helping the team achieve its goals serves their self-interest in the long run. This is how Scrum masters are expected to behave,” says DeClute.