27 April 2020

Servant Leader in Agile Management

In principle, a manager's task is to ensure that strategies from the top can be understood and implemented by his subordinates. But if we just focus there, then what often happens is that a manager will later think how his subordinates can work like he used to when he was an employee. How to make the staff perform and how to make the team run becomes his responsibility alone. So the way he works is to make sure every one in his team can carry out the task just like how he carried the same task. Unknowingly, the manager becomes his central actor (and often ends up as micro management).

In Agile-based management, this strategy will not work because it is not in accordance with the Agile principle that this team is responsible for their own work using their own way. Let me give an example: Manager A. A used to be a regular employee. A then becomes a manager. Now when A becomes a manager, instead of A being the central actor, the central actor(s) are now the subordinate(s). Not A anymore. In this case, what is A's job then? A serves. So A should change from:

'Our top management has this strategy, this is how we run it.' 
'Our top management has this strategy, how do we achieve that? What do you need to implement it? How do we measure the impact of our work? I will help as much as possible.'

That way, the central actor(s) is the team, the sense of belonging of a task and responsibility is also in the team. Does it mean that managers with Agile frameworks actually work more relaxed? Not really. Getting the team to embody the strategy from the top then deciding what they need to do in order to achieve it is far more difficult than just having the team do the work that has been technically arranged from above. As a servant leader, A needs to:
  1. Understand the character of each team member,
  2. Patient enough to help all members of this team can learn,
  3. Patient enough to meet the needs of team members while sorting out what needs are just desires. 
Whatever happens, with pandemic conditions that makes the future more uncertain and keep changing, Agile frameworks supported by servant managers will make teamwork during this pandemic far more responsive to change and reduce stress burden.

PS: If you want to listen this article in Indonesian please check this link.

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