Last updated on | Agile

ScrumMaster as a Servant Leader

by Luís Gonçalves


In the SCRUM world, a ScrumMaster is often known as a Servant Leader, but I believe that very few people know what a Servant Leader is.

Based on this assumption, I am writing this blog post to explain what a Servant Leader is and what the characteristics of a good servant leader are (in this case, a Scrum Master). I will start by using the Greenleaf definition of what a servant leader is:

The servant leader is a servant first. It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. The best test is: do those served to grow as persons: do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society; will they benefit, or, at least, not be further deprived? (Greenleaf, 1977/2002, p. 27)

Larry Spears in his article: “Character and Servant Leadership: Ten Characteristics of Effective, Caring Leaders” explains that servant leadership seeks to involve others in decision making, is strongly based in ethical and caring behaviour and enhances the growth of workers while improving the caring and quality of organisational life.

In the same article, Larry Spears explains that a good servant leader has ten characteristics that are of critical importance:


The servant leader must be willing to listen and identify the will of a group. Hearing it will give him the opportunity to clarify that will. The leader must be able to listen and reflect on what is being said; this is an important aspect of being a servant leader.


Empathy is quite an important characteristic for a servant leader to have. A servant leader must accept and recognise the special and unique spirits that exist for each different person. They cannot reject coworkers and colleagues as people, even in difficult conflict situations. A successful servant leader is a great empathetic listener.


This can be considered one of the strengths of a servant leader: The power of healing one´s self and one´s relationship to others. Servant leaders understand that they can take on a unique role within their team/group. They have a unique power to fix relationships.


Knowledge helps people to become stronger. Awareness helps the servant leader to understand issues involving ethics, power, and values. This characteristic helps any servant leader to be able to view situations from a more holistic and integrated position.


A good servant leader tries to convince others, instead of forcing compliance. Usually, a successful servant leader is great at building consensus within teams.


Transforming a big vision into small workable pieces that everyone understands is a great characteristic servant leader generally have. They have the ability to pick up on daily problems and conceptualise solutions that are recognized by everyone.


A great servant leader can foresee the likely outcome of even the most difficult situation. Using previous experience and present data, they can predict with high accuracy the future result of a case.


Servant leadership involves an inherent commitment to serve the needs of others. It also emphasises the use of openness and persuasion, rather than control.

Commitment to the Growth of People

Servant leaders believe in real intrinsic motivation. They believe that all individuals have a lot to contribute to the organisation. A great servant leader is committed to helping people to grow within the organisation.

Building Community

Building a community among those who work within a given group is the last characteristic of a great servant leader. They believe they can create authentic communities among the people that work within the same organisation(s).


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Luís Gonçalves

About Luís Gonçalves

Luis Gonçalves is an Entrepreneur, Author & International Keynote Speaker that works exclusively with Senior Executives of 7 to 8 figure businesses on the deployment of his game changing ‘Organisational Mastery’ Methodology.


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  1. Luis, This is a great post to remind scrum masters on how to act as a Servant Leader. I often tend to act like a traditional project manager. Thanks for noting down these points. Simon