August 20, 2020

3 Key Tips for Scrum Masters to Act with More Resilience

How many of us believe that we are not operating to our fullest potential and there is always something we could do better, faster, and effective?

This blog is inspired by two books I read recently "The Power of Full Engagement" & "A-Team of Leaders".

In this blog, you'd be exploring 3 key tips to sharpen your focus and become more resilient.

Myth 1: Time management will help us achieve our goals

Many Scrum Masters I speak with often say that they need to become better at time-management as they are not able to make most of their limited hours per day, especially during the COVID situation. This is the typical mistake most people do by considering "time-management" as a means to "peak performance". However, in order to give our best, i.e., the full engagement we need to shift our focus from managing our time to managing our energy.

Time alone won't help us achieve our goals, we also need energy. So, instead of optimizing schedules, we must optimize our available energy. We typically tend to focus on physical energy, however, there are three additional sources of energy- emotional, mental, and spiritual that also require our equal attention.

  • Emotional flexibility helps us to deal with pressure & stressful situations. For instance, when faced with a pressing business need, emotional flexibility helps us to stay curious and resilient to surmount the impediment
  • Mental endurance helps us stay focussed and keep us engaged even in hard times
  • Spiritual strength helps us stay connected to our deepest values that act as our true north

"Wherever focus goes energy flows" - Tony Robbins 

TIP 1: Self Care is key to building your resilience. One effective way is to limit WIP, take frequent short breaks, and rejuvenate.

You may also experiment with LiberatingStructures "15% Solutions".

Myth 2: Servant Leader makes the decision on behalf of the team

Most Scrum Masters perceive one of the servant leader stances as a decision-maker and fall into the trap. Great Scrum Masters design an environment in which the development team acts as leaders, self-actualize, and make their own decisions. The key is to find balance and accomplish shared leadership by designing the environment to give every team member a shared purpose.

To get a better sense of this, consider asking this question to a team member- What are you doing today? Do you want your team members to answer " I am solving a customer problem-for example improving the website performance" or " I'm just fixing some defects"?

When teams don't feel connected to a higher purpose or believe their work has meaning, they start channelizing energy away from work. The most successful teams I have come across had one thing in common - "cohesion" and the leader's job is to create a psychologically safe environment that supports cohesion.

There are two types of cohesion:-

1. Social Cohesion, which is about healthy relations and social bonds between team-mates

2. Work Cohesion, which is about bonding through a shared commitment to achieving a common goal

Both are important to boost team morale.

"The stronger the WHY the easier the HOW becomes." -  Jim Rohn

TIP 2: Facilitate a team values co-creation exercise and connect everyone with a sense of purpose. Coach team on having solid Sprint Goals.

You may also experiment with LiberatingStructures "Purpose to Practice".

Myth 3: You need to work hard giving up your joy to be successful

Joy serves as the basis for the company's culture. Joyful teams are more productive and engaged, leading to better results.

I love a great story from the book "Joy Inc."

Consider the difference between the wright brothers and Samuel Pierpont Langley. While both were striving to create the first-ever airplane, their motivations were different. Langley wanted fame and fortune; the Wright brothers wanted to experience the joy of flight. And it was the pursuit of joy that inspired the Wright brothers to soar.

"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” - Simon Sinek

TIP: Design a Joy Driven culture in your teams and organization. Have shared habits and spend time together remotely by virtual happy hours or virtual water coolers.

You may also experiment with LiberatingStructures "1-2-4-all".

Summary: Change, uncertainty, and instability are inevitable as it's necessary for creative environments. Promoting a joyful culture based on openness and transparency drives people to give their best. I'd like to conclude by asking this question. Before going to bed tonight take a few minutes and ask yourself "What are you paying attention to? Are you truly listening or listening to confirm your own beliefs?".

I'd like to hear your thoughts in the comments section.