Myth: Scrum Master Is an Information Dispenser
Instead of an information repository, let's start thinking of the Scrum Master as quiet leader who works to enable his or her team's self-sufficient success.
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I often start my Scrum training classes with this quote:
"The Scrum Master is an enabler not a doer"
This is the second in a series of posts exploring some of the myths about Scrum Mastery. Software is taking over the world, and employees today are more educated than the previous generation. In this post, I use the terms "leaders" and "Scrum Masters" interchangeably to help people understand that the Scrum Master is a servant-leadership role. I've often experienced that Scrum Masters are expected to be project coordinators, but that is not an intention of this role.
Leaders need to improve thinking, and they need to do so with extremely knowledgeable individuals. To deal with such complexity, many organizations started adopting new ways of working. Scrum — one of the Agile powerful frameworks — is an enabler for many organizations to deal with such complexity. Yet, for some organizations, Scrum has been a big disappointment; I believe this is because we are mixing management styles. We are approaching the new frameworks with a traditional management style. The new generations coming into management positions have different needs from their predecessors. These people expect more from an organization. They want to develop personally; they value freedom and independence. They need leaders who improve their thinking.
"People don't need to be managed, they need to be unleashed."
This is where I see the servant-leadership role coined by Robert Greenleaf (1970) complements the needs of Generation Y. The skills of a Scrum Master are simple to describe. They involve paying attention, which Robert termed as "active listening." Attention is one of the most precious commodities in the world. You can't command it; it can only be given. I personally believe it has more to do with asking rather than telling. I would like to relate this to "quiet leadership," a term coined by David Rock. Before we discuss some more insights about "quiet leadership," let's take a look at what the Scrum Guide says about the role of a Scrum Master. The Scrum Guide says,
"The Scrum Master is a servant-leader for the Scrum Team."
One of these fundamental, timeless principles is the idea of servant-leadership. One of the responsibilities of a Scrum Master is to build high-performing teams by serving the team. We need to produce more for less, and with greater speed than ever before. The only way to do that in a sustained way is through the empowerment of people. Leaders who are going to manage Generation Y will need to learn that the kind of empowerment that servant-leadership represents, which is based on practice, not talk or dictation, and will be the key decision point between an organization's successful Scrum adoption or its adieu to successful Scrum adoption. So what does the Scrum Master really do?
Scrum Master — A Quiet Leader
I love the concept from David Rock — quiet leadership is not an academic theory; instead it is an art. He talks about a new approach to every conversation a leader has with their people. This will change the role of manager from one who drives results and motivation from the outside in, to one who is a servant-leader — one who seeks to draw out, inspire, and develop the best within people from the inside out. Such leaders do this by engaging the entire team or organization in a process that creates a shared vision, which inspires each person to stretch and reach deeper within himself or herself, and to use everyone's unique talents in whatever the way it is necessary to achieve that common goal.
Quiet Leadership is not an academic theory; instead, it's an art.
Quiet leaders are enablers, too. some of the characteristics of quiet leaders are:
- A quiet leader gives less advice than almost anyone else.
- Quiet leaders, while they respect that people have problems, aren't all that interested in discussing them; in other words, they are more solution-focused than problem-focused
- Quiet leaders stay out of the details
- Quiet leaders don't rush people into action
- Quiet leaders don't tell people how to think differently
A Shift from Information Dispenser to Quiet Leader
In summary, Scrum Masters are expected to be information dispensers in too many organizations. Changing a habit is hard, but leaving it where it is and creating a whole new habit turns out to be far more achievable. There are many implications to all of this, and the next series of blogs will talk about some of these. I will also introduce how a Scrum Master can move away from being a coordinator or individual contributor, and move toward coaching people in Scrum to enable positive team behavior by gradually embodying the Scrum Values. There are several ways to do that; one of the ways is to ask powerful questions. I will introduce how to ask powerful questions in my next series! Stay tuned.
Until then, happy Scrum Mastering!
Published at DZone with permission of Venkatesh Rajamani, DZone MVB. See the original article here.
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