Project Manager as a Servant Leader

“Project leadership is not how well you manage the team, but how you inspire, set the north and support the team to get there”.

In today’s project environment, the figure of the manager who sits in his chair, delegates and give orders, often imposing his position to gain authority is a figure in extinction. Modern project managers today have the challenge to delegate and drive the team, but also listen and support the team to achieve project success. But, how to be a great leader in an environment where hierarchy is more flat and collaboration and support are the expectations of the organizations towards project managers? Answer: servant leadership.

What that means? It means that it is now your role to guide and support the team during the journey called project development until we all achieve project goals. And to not impose (for a lack of a better word) all the steps that should be done by each member of the team.

The benefits of the servant leadership approach are numerous. It ranges from increase team satisfaction to better productivity. Team environment also changes for the better. Happier people, who feels part of the solution, who likes to contribute not only for their own reasons can develop better software and produce higher quality outputs.

To be a good servant leader you need:


1: Be Open to change

The first thing you should think of when becoming a servant leader is to be open. Open to people’s ideas, open to talk and discuss things with the team, and more important open to change yourself and your behaviors. A servant leader puts his team first, protect it and support it. It is about what the team needs first, not necessarily what you wanted or planned first.

2: Communication

Servant leadership is nothing more than help people to win. If your communication is poor, your tone and body language impose fear will result in you being always misinterpreted.  With poor communication you will never be a true servant leader. In fact, it will be tough to be any type of a leader if you lack communication skills.

3: Vision

Vision sets the team to focus on the goal of the phase or project. Giving the vision allows the team to understand what needs to be achieved and an idea of the path to follow. The team should also have their input into how to achieve the goal, and what they need (or don’t need) to perform the job properly. Our job as project servant leaders is to make sure the team have what they need, and to remove any impediment or obstacle for the work to progress smoothly.


Being a servant leader is a mindset change, where you leave the usual command-control path and create a more collaborative environment.

This can be achieve regardless of the methodology: waterfall, scrum, kanban. The key is to allow the team to perform on it’s best and to deliver the best project result possible.