Myth : Scrum Master is an Information dispenser

Myth : Scrum Master is an Information dispenser
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I often start my Scrum training classes with this quote

“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 eating the world (At least I see that way 🙂 , employees today are better educated than the previous generation ( Generation X). In this post, I use the term Leaders & Scrum Masters interchangeably to help people understand, Scrum Master is a “Servant-leadership” role. I often experienced from my own experience that Scrum Masters are expected to be Project Co-ordinators which is not an intention of that role.

Leaders now need to improve thinking, 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 powerful frameworks is an enabler for too many Organizations to deal with such complexity. Yet,For too many Organizations Scrum has been the biggest disappointment- I believe this is because we are mixing the Management style. We are approaching the new generations with a traditional management style. The new generations coming in to 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

-Richard Florida( 2002)

This is where I see, the Servant-Leadership role coined by Robert Green-leaf (1970) is complementing 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 is more to do with asking rather than telling. I would like to relate this with “Quiet leadership”- coined by David .Before we discuss bit more insights about “Quiet leadership” , Lets take a look at what scrum guide says about the role of a Scrum Master. Scrum guide says,

The Scrum Master is a servant-leader for the Scrum Team.

One of these fundamentals, timeless principles is the idea of servant-leadership. One of the responsibilities of Scrum Master is to build high performing teams by serving the team. We have got to produce more for less, and with greater speed than ever done 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 have learn that this kind of empowerment, which is what servant-leadership represents, is one of the key principles that, based  on practice, not talk or dictate, will be the key deciding point between  an organization’s  successful scrum adoption or its adieu to successful scrum adoption. Then, what does the Scrum Master really do?

Scrum Master – A Quiet leader

I love the statement from David Rock – Quiet Leadership is not an academic theory; instead it’s an art, 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 and higher  within people  from the inside out. Such leaders does this by  engaging the  entire team  or organization in a process that creates a shared vision , which inspires each person to stretch  and reacher 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, (Source: David Rock)

  • 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 solution-focused than problem-focused.(It is a slippery slope)
  • Quiet Leaders stay out of the details.
  • Quiet Leaders dont rush people in to action.
  • Quiet Leaders dont tell people how to think differently.

A shift from Information dispenser to Quiet leadership

In summary, science is showing that we can change the way we think, and thats its not hard as we have been assuming. Changing a habit, now thats hard, but leaving it where it is and creating a whole new habit- that turns out to be far more achievable.  There are many implications to all this, and this insight ad the next series of blogs will have talked about some of these. I will also introduce how a Scrum Master can move away from Coordinating individuals and individual contributions and move toward Coaching people in Scrum and positive team behavior by gradually embodying the Scrum Values. There are several ways to do that. I will reveal the secret now .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!

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