A scrum team consists of the scrum master, the product owner, and the development team. Usually a small group of people between 5 and 9 people.
Not a lot of people when considering how large the organisation may be.
As a focused, creative and collaborative team, the scrum team are able to work together to solve compelling problems and create unique products and features that truly delight customers.
That said, what do you do when problems arise from outside of the scrum team? Problems like policies that need to be reshaped or when decisions need to be made by senior managers who are not a part of the scrum team. How does a scrum master remove those impediments and solve those problems on behalf of the scrum team?
They need to develop their influence beyond the scrum team and often, they need to facilitate and coach in order to get the job done.
Let’s start with Influence
When I speak about influence, I often get push back that it is similar to manipulation.
Influence is about getting things done but it’s often external. It isn’t about you as the scrum master it is about serving the team and the individuals within your team.
Developing your influence means developing your ability to effectively articulate what is necessary and to provide compelling reasons for solving the problem or removing the impediment.
Manipulation is often internal. Manipulation is about achieving your own specific needs and wants without regard for others. In essence, that’s the primary difference between manipulation and influence.
One is about you. The other is about service to others.
Developing your influence and your ability to influence others is an incredibly important part of being an effective coach and scrum master. You need to be able to articulate your line of reasoning effectively and you do so in a manner that is compelling and enables others to see the benefits of taking the action that you want them to take.
As a scrum master, you need to focus on your intention. You need to make sure that the actions you are taking and the requests you are making are in service of others.
In order to develop influence, you need to build trust.
In essence, do people believe that you have the team’s best interests at heart, their best interests at heart, and are your actions and requests consistent with what is in the best interests of the organisation.
Are you someone who honours their word?
If you are, you are in a very small percentage of people. That’s a great thing. Make sure you work at it consistently and build a reputation for being someone who does what they say and honours their word and commitments.
There is a great formula for building trust, and it’s called the Trust Equation. We’ve featured an article on the Trust Equation on our website so be sure to check it out on https://www.agilecentre.com/resources/article/the-trust-equation/
The trust equation uses four variables to measure trustworthiness.
Credibility. Reliability. Intimacy. Self-Orientation.
Developing a reputation as someone who is competent, professional, and capable goes a long way to building trust with others and developing your influence within and beyond the scrum team.
Are you knowledgeable about your craft? Do you respect your craft? Are you dedicated to being the best scrum master and agile coach that you can be?
Is this evident to others?
Are you able to educate others about elements of scrum and agile using credible resources and points of reference? Are you able to demonstrate expertise in your field and point to actions that you have taken that are proof of your competence and capabilities?
When dealing with senior managers and leadership, you need to demonstrate that you have a deep understanding of the environment you serve and are a credible professional that they can trust.
The more credibility you have within your organisation, the more effective you are going to be in earning trust and developing influence.
So, work on it. Attend the courses you need to attend, research the areas that you need to be knowledgeable about, read the books from thought leaders in your industry and invest in a path of continuous skills development and improvement.
Developing a reputation as someone who is reliable under pressure and consistent in their actions is another crucial building block in the trust equation.
Do you do what you say you are going to do and are others able to rely on you when you make a commitment or give them your word?
Do you consistently demonstrate that you will see something through to its completion and is it clear that others can trust you with complex and difficult challenges?
You will find that your credibility and influence will grow exponentially with every challenge that you overcome and every task that you see through to its successful conclusion.
When others understand that they can rely on you to do the right thing, in the right way, time and again, you will find that doors start to open across the organisation for you.
What you do is just as important as how you do it.
Let your past and current actions demonstrate that you are a reliable person that is worthy of their trust, and you will find that your influence grows in alignment with your trustworthiness.
Intimacy, in this instance, refers to the safety or security we feel when entrusting someone else with something of importance or sensitivity.
Are you trustworthy with sensitive information? Can others trust you to get the job done? Are you someone that honours confidential agreements?
We’ve all had moments in our life when we are a touch vulnerable and have had to rely on others to do something outside of our own capability or competencies. How do you feel in that moment? If you are privileged enough to have worked with someone that you felt 100% secure would solve your problem or overcome a challenge for you, you will know how valuable it is to be that person.
Be the person others feel 100% safe and secure to work with, regardless of the complexity or sensitivity of the matter at hand.
Make sure that your reputation precedes you and that others believe that you are worthy of their trust. Make sure that you see things through, ethically and responsibly, when you are entrusted with something of value to others.
Make it a habit to be that person in all areas of your life.
Being the person who makes others feel safe, secure, and confident when dealing with you is a crucial element in building trust and influence within your organisation.
Self-orientation refers to where your focus primarily lies.
Do others see you as a servant leader that is focused on helping the team improve? Do they perceive you to be someone that acts in service of others, values, and principles rather than your own personal agenda?
This is where the other 3 variables really come into play.
If you have credibility and have developed a reputation for being reliable, consistent, and trustworthy then you are going to naturally be perceived as having a self-orientation in service of others.
Your actions demonstrate where your focus lies and that consistent action in service of others, values, and principles makes you worthy of trust and responsibility.
If you have all your trust equation ducks in a row, you are going to find that people go out of their way to help you in moments of crisis. You are going to find that people listen to when you speak and offer their assistance, where relevant, to help you remove impediments to progress.
As you consistently live and breathe your values, your reputation will grow and your sphere of influence will grow in alignment with your perceived degree of trustworthiness.
People within and beyond your team will know that you are worthy of their trust, time and effort.
The consistency of your actions will win you opportunities to work with others outside of your team and grow your reputation for getting things done reliably, ethically, and professionally.
Invest in the trust equation. Invest in growing your reputation and trustworthiness and you will find that you are able to have a significant impact within your organisation and help your team to achieve their goals and objectives.
If you like the idea of mentored and coach-driven skills development, visit our Agile Coach Academy.
If you have identified coaching as a valuable skill to develop, visit our on-demand Introduction to Coaching course page.
For more information on John McFadyen, visit https://www.growingscrummasters.com