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Agile Manager? What does that mean?

A tweet yesterday by a client got me to write this post. Here is Maritza’s tweet and a few others we shared.Screenshot 2014-06-18 12.54.41

Screenshot 2014-06-18 12.54.55 Screenshot 2014-06-18 12.55.07


Over the last few years the term Agile Manager has become quite popular. My fear was that most of it is for people who where Project Managers and now needed the title Manager but in an Agile environment. However Maritza’s tweet made me stop and rethink this. Maritza is a servant leader Agile Manager. As her tweets suggest, she guides from the side and allows her team to learn and grow without the need to micro manage them every step of the way. So I am sure there are many more Agile Managers out their who are also servant leaders. This makes me super happy!

What is a servant leader anyway?

To me this is someone who leads by example. Someone who sees their job as a leader is to grow people to be the best they can be. This means spending time learning a whole bunch of soft skills like influence, communication, feedback, listening. Let me delve a bit more…


How do you convince people to try something without forcing them? What techniques do you have to influence people who report to you and also to influence those that you report into?


Do your questions encourage people to think and answer? Or are most of your questions looking for a yes/no? How easy and accessible are you to communicate with? How often do you interact with your team socially?


Can you give positive and negative feedback constructively? Is your team able to do this with each other? Does your feedback result in changed behaviour? How open are you to receiving feedback, and do you actively seek it out?


Do you listen to your team? I don’t mean hear them, I mean actively listen, not just wait to have your say. Do your team listen to each other or just talk at each other?

As a servant leader these are the skills you need to learn and pass on to your team. They are not easy. There are no 3 day courses with certification that make you an expert. These take time and practise and experience. The good news is that you immediately see the difference that being a servant leader brings to your team.

We often coach ScrumMasters to develop these skills, but really these are skills that everyone needs. They are more important than me learning the names of rivers in Africa for geography at school. I wish they were taught at school. And I wish everyone who finds themselves in a position of leadership learns them. Perhaps the first step is realising the need to learn these skills.