Skip to content

3 Key Skills for Servant Leaders


Servant Leadership is a big buzzword these days. Everyone knows Scrum Masters and agile managers need to be servant leaders, but often it’s difficult to describe what that means, and what skills you need to grow to become a servant leader.

We think there are 3 key skills you need to master to become an effective servant leader.

1. Listening
2. Being trustworthy
3. Being an egalitarian

Let’s look at each of those in more detail.

A servant leader is there to help people. The best way to do this is by listening to people. Listening deeply can also help you feel empathy for people as you start to understand their feelings and reasons for doing things. Often the greatest help people need is to feel heard, and so just by listening you are serving them.

If you would like to develop your listening skills then try this out:
For one day, only speak when you must, and try to keep your answers short and to the point. Instead try to listen more. If you are the type of person who usually comes up with ideas or solutions in meetings, try instead to sit back and wait for other people to speak. Even if there is a deathly silence, count to 10 slowly in your head. Usually by that time someone will have broken the silence, if they don’t you can simply ask “what do you think we should do?”.

Being trustworthy
It is critical for a servant leader to appear trustworthy. If you want to help people, they need to trust that you have their best interests at heart. Trust is a difficult thing to master since it is very easy to break trust, but so difficult to build it. The best advice for building trust is by doing small things often, rather than large things seldom.

If you would like to improve your trustworthiness try out these tips:
Whenever someone ask you to do something, commit to doing it only if you know you can. Never over promise. If you are too busy, rather say you’ll try but can’t commit because you are busy. This is much better than saying you will do something and not doing it.

If you promise to get back to someone by a certain date, make sure you do, even if you don’t have the answer they need yet. Let them know you are still working on it. The easiest way to do this is to put a reminder in your calendar for the date you said you’d get back to them.

Be an egalitarian
Yes it’s a big word, but essentially it means treating everyone as your equal. This is especially important if you have some rank in an organisation because of your seniority. As a servant leader, people should feel like you have time for them and that you care as much about helping them as you do the CEO, even if they are the most junior person in your organisation.

If you would like to improve treating people as equals try out these tips:
Try to greet everyone you see in the office and acknowledge them. Everyone from the receptionist, to the canteen staff, to the intern who started last week.

Be on time for meetings, or send apologies even if you are only 5 minutes late. It shows people you respect them and value their time as much as their own. The best way to make sure you are always on time for meetings it to never schedule back to back meetings. Always allow at least 10 minutes between meetings. When you are in a meeting, set an alarm on your phone for 5 minutes before the end of the meeting. When the buzzer goes, make sure you wrap up and end the meeting.

Essential skills for Scrum Masters to create effective, motivated teams. The best Scrum Masters magnify their team’s productivity.

They inspire their teams to always be better, always be learning, and always solve issues before they become problems. This week by week guide will be your companion for the next 3 months, teaching you ways to deal with conflict, bugs, interruptions, meetings and many more topics.

You can watch a free chapter here: