Modern Sensei: Leadership principles



Leadership is something you earn, something you’re chosen for. You can’t come in yelling, ‘I’m your leader!’ If it happens, it’s because the other guys respect you.

Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback

Once upon a time, someone says that true leadership stems from individuality that is honestly and sometimes imperfectly expressed. One is sure – leaders should strive for authenticity over perfection. But, the thing that we wanna ask you is …

…are you a true leader?

And this isn’t a trick question. If you remember, in PART 2 we showed that journalists, diplomats, priests, mountain guides, gambler and Japanese zen Buddhist have something in common. They all have a specific trait that makes him/her a leader. In order to have manners of a gentleman or courtesy of a king you must work hard and learn passionately.

Being a leader isn’t something that you can get easily. But, in order to be a magnificent leader ask yourself: ,,What are the values that drive your work?” As a Scrum Master or Product Owner, you need to adopt or follow leadership principles. They aren’t just a bunch of guidelines – they actually work as a fuel to move and inspire others to work together for a common goal.

Leadership principles

There are so many leadership principles, and yes – they’re all vital for success, but these are our choice:

#1 Learn and be curious

In sense of talking about Scrum and Product Owner leadership, learning is a never-ending process. Leaders always seek next improvements and besides that – they’re always curious about new trends, possibilities and actions.

#2 Leadership is always about people

Communication skills are essential for any leader. Scrum Master who doesn’t communicate with his team, and on the other side – Product Owner with Scrum Master leads to failure. As a leader, you must have the best possible relationship with each member of your team. Influencing is a new trend, mainly expressed in leadership.

#3 Listening is everything

There’s a reason why we have two ears and one mouth. As a leader, by listening you catch new valuable information and deeply understand the needs of your team. Turning on your emotional and intellectual sense, you’ll really get a perception of the structure of your team.

#4 Earning trust is hard but worthy

As a leader, to get trust is the hardest thing. In each aspect of business if you wanna earn a trust – give it to others. Scrum Master, for example, must have confidence in the team and believe they can be self-organized. Product Owner with interpersonal skills and real-time actions can understand and convict clients that everything is going to be on time.

#5 Help other future leaders

This is very humble goal. If someone has an aspiration to become a leader, help and motivate him. Thinking about the future is a desirable leadership virtue, right? Leaders must understand the value of education and carry talented employees. Don’t forget: satisfied employee = happy employee.

#6 Admit mistakes

This is maybe the most important principle. Being humble is everything in business when the environment is quickly changing. Mistakes are not bad, they’re showing where you went wrong and how you can improve yourself in the future. Don’t allow people to lose faith in you, even you made and admitted mistakes, you’ll grow in the team’s eyes. And that only matters, right?

So, what are the values that drive your work?

Leadership Principles are a key part of our Certified Agile Leadership course. Principles help us to orient ourselves in complex environments. They guide our actions and decision making. A good list of principles will – in contrast to a list of rules – have some ambiguity. For instance, “be fair” and “be generous” will contradict each other sometimes – and force you to think WHY you are making a decision. Principles encourage responsibility – for you and all other leaders in your organisation..