Pervasive Leadership

A Step Beyond Servant Leadership

The pervasive leadership model was created as a step beyond the servant leadership model explicitly endorsed in The Scrum Guide and valued by agile practitioners in general. Servant leadership was created by Robert K. Greenleaf in his foundational essay, “The Servant as Leader,” in 1969. The servant leadership model has value as an agility supporting model. However, it can sometimes be more of a power-over model than is helpful in agility aspiring organizations. Pervasive leadership is structured to support a stronger distribution of authority and broader high-accountability functioning. The three basic principles are shown below.

Change your mental model of I and Thou

They see themselves as being in a dialogue with everyone in their work group, or, if the organization is small enough, everyone in their organization. They have something to learn and something of value to offer. Where they are granted power-over authority, they use it extremely rarely. They have learned to function in a way that makes that kind of authority largely unnecessary.

Act locally; think holistically

They realize that patterns and problems they see in their immediate work group are also likely arising elsewhere in the organization. They solve them locally and offer the solution to the larger organization. They also seek solutions elsewhere because someone else may have spotted and solved the problem first. Their objective is always to help the organization move forward and fulfill its stated purpose as fully as possible as quickly as possible.

Enact empathetic stewardship

They realize the importance of empathy and the risks of compassion fatigue. They realize also that, while each individual is uniquely valuable, the organization as a whole is the ship we all travel in, so they are careful to advocate for the needs of the organization in balance with the needs of the individual.

More Depth on Pervasive Leadership

Below are resources Azure Gate is developing and making publicly available as we test and evolve the pervasive leadership model.

Describes the drivers for this leadership model and indicates some of its precursors.

We Need No Less than Pervasive Leadership

In Your Own Hands: Personal Integrity and the Individual Experience of Work Life

How Does Pervasive Leadership Improve Agility

Pervasive Leadership Blog Posts

Who Do You Belong To?

When I was a child, my family tended to move house every few years.  My mother hated hot, dry weather and loved the rainy days common in a coastal climate.  My father hated dark, dreary days and [...]

Workplace Happiness

I like, so many of those of you reading this post, grew up in a culture where it is relatively easy to seek out and experience pleasure in many ways.  The very air is full of free and cheap [...]

Holding Others Accountable

The notion of “holding people accountable” has long been amusing and confounding to me.  How can anyone “hold” anyone else accountable?  Our accountabilities accrue to us naturally—some merely as [...]

The Value of Conflict

This morning I had some business at the county courthouse where I’ve mediated small claims cases for the last 12 years.  This year I am due to reconfirm my commitment to ongoing education in [...]

Taking Your Lumps

As we encourage increased transparency at every level throughout organizations, we don’t really seem to engage the topic of how to take your lumps or deal with falling short of the mark.  There [...]

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