Note: Because this is an ongoing series, viewers will not receive a certificate of completion.
- Diagnosing problems within an agile team
- Solving issues with agile meetings
- Creating cross-functional teams
- Helping distributed teams function well
- Managing up within your organization
Skill Level Intermediate
- During agile transformations, many companies redirect their existing project managers into the scrum master role. While there are some similarities in responsibilities, the roles are not the same. This can create many problems for teams. One of the most common behaviors is when a scrum master reverts to the command and control leadership style used in traditional project management. A commanding scrum master is one who is assigning tasks to individual team members. The daily scrum may be the delivery point where the scrum master is doling out tasks. Also, when someone is working on a critical task, the commanding scrum master will demand updates several times a day. This behavior is both disruptive and demeaning to the team member. If you see these behaviors in your scrum master, you need to help them change their mindset, and shift them from the commanding and control mindset, to the servant leadership mindset. Remember, servant leadership is a facilitating style of leadership, with the goal of enabling and empowering the team members. It's all about making sure there's clarity on the goals, and getting out of the way while the team solves for those goals. While this sounds daunting, it doesn't have to be. When you approach your scrum master with your observations, here's what you can share with them. First, that your goal is to help them, and the team, mature in their agile practices and mindset. Next, share with them how your own journey to servant leadership has progressed. What are some of your own insights into your behavior, that could help them recognize these traits in themselves. Then, share with them the key traits of great servant leaders. Those traits include, behave with respect and trust for all team members. Everyone on the team is doing their best, and needs to know you trust them to do their job to the best of their abilities. Being a selfless mentor. In this case, the scrum master is focused on mentoring the team in agile practices, not detailed task management. The team members are quite capable of doing this own their own. Next is for them to be accountable for behaving as a servant leader. All the time, not just when there isn't a looming deadline. They'll need to learn, as you did, that feedback from everyone around you is a gift toward growth. Finally, make sure they recognize that you're interested in partnering with them, to help them become the servant leader they want to be. When you see that your scrum master is carrying over some commanding behaviors to the team, make a commitment to help them. When you do, the team will thank you, as they move on to self-organization.