The Changing Responsibilities of Traditional Leaders
As a leader in an organization making steps to be Agile — it can be a very uncomfortable understanding what your responsibility is when being a line manager for servant leader roles.
I see a lot of transitions where operational line managers — used to Project Reports and RAG statuses — slowly see that team transition into Scrum Masters and lose clarity on what their changing responsibility truly is.
Delivery accountability shifts over to the Product organization, and Project Managers transition to servant leaders — so where does that leave operational line management?
The Agile Leader as a Coach and Mentor
If we look at scrum.org¹, they identify three key focuses for Agile leaders:
- Culture: They create and nurture a culture in which experimentation and learning are embraced
- Goals: They collaborate with employees (at all levels in the organization) to find common values to create a greater goal for the company and the teams
- Organization: They create an organizational structure that reinforces and rewards the other two dimensions.
We can see that tools like The Team Canvas go some way to addressing #1 and #2, but it completely fails to address #3 as at the team level — there is little control to adjust the structures, skills, and development.
As Jim Collins wrote in his famous book “Good to Great”² — Great Leaders must:
Find the right people, and help them reach their full potential.
So the question now becomes — what is a mechanism we can use to align with individual team members on, that aligns with the Agile values and principles and is driven by conversation over documentation — that will form the basis of our focused responsibility in setting goals and guiding staff development?
Standing on the shoulders of giants
What we need is a mechanism to help us guide the alignment together, but it doesn’t replace the much-needed conversation and clarity that…