Sunday evening we met for the 3rd time. This time Roy Osherove discussed 10 mistakes team leaders make an updated version of the slides can also be found here.
During the talk Roy mentioned several books, out of those I really recommend Johanna Rothman & Eshter Derby, Behind Closed Doors: Secrets of Great Management. For me that book was a career changer. I recall reading it as a team leader and for the first time I felt someone actually wrote a book that explained to me what a team leader job is all about. Also the book is filled with practical techniques that can be applied as is. from planning to conducting one on ones. Just the sort of advice I needed at that time.
Scrum Master vs. Team LeaderTowards the end of the session a discussion rose regarding the place of the scrum master and about the amount of authority he as over the team.
On one hand we all know that a scrum master is not the team leader. and it is considered a bad practice to make the team leader into one. However, it is also clear that the Scrum Master as defined by his roles and responsibilities, should lead the team helping them to become better at what they do. and in fact in most cases the natural candidates for becoming the scrum masters are the team leaders.
So where does the line from leader to manager is drawn?
Actually I don’t have a good answer for that. My gut feeling tells me that a “good” team leader, will fit the role of a scrum master very easily. Yes there are some traps and pitfalls that he should avoid, but if he is “good” that should not be a problem. However, many team leaders are not “good” and there is a real danger making them scrum masters. While as a team leaders they might manage to still function, as scrum masters they are not equipped to handle an agile transition which by itself is hard enough. In most cases they just ruin any attempt at any kind of an agile process. In my eyes the job of a scrum master is so much harder and it take a more experienced person with the “right” state of mind to do a good job. Leading a team is much harder then managing it.
The “Good” team leaderthe million dollar question is of course how to sort the “good” team leaders from the rest?
- Are they the team leaders which demonstrate the best productivity in their teams?
- Are the the one most liked by their teams?
- are they the ones most appreciated by their managers?
- or is it something completely different?
The only thing I did found along the way, is that there is a strong correlation between team leaders exert minimal authority over the team to those who becomes great scrum masters. So when I see a team leader which doesn’t “tell” his team what to do, and instead asked them many questions I know that there is a good candidate for becoming a Scrum Master.