Everyone wants to be the big dog, right? Perhaps, but ultimately few people will actually take the reins and lead a team. Just because someone has an alpha personality does not mean they are suited to lead the team, and when there are more than one inhabiting a team, this can cause issues for the scrum master to manage. To be clear, an alpha is a leader, self-assured, powerful and confident. Alpha personalities don’t hold back, and have the ability to powerfully lead their teams.
Ultimately you want a team to work efficiently, for the members’ personalities to blend well & play off each other and alphas play a key role in that; yet, alphas don’t often place nice with other alphas. So in the spirit of team efficiency, let’s have a look at 4 points to ensuring team efficiency and productivity when multiple alpha personalities are present.
Clearly Defined Roles
We begin with clearly defined roles for all team members. Knowing your role and what is expected of you in that role is the first step to empowering each team member to contribute. A role will define guidelines for each member to follow and for what they are individually responsible for and will be held accountable for.
When all team members know and understand their roles and everyone else’s, they can now hold each other accountable to fulfill the role responsibilities that have been assigned to them. The scrum master of course, will be actively doing this when necessary, but even when the scrum master is not around, peer accountability is a useful tool. Though remember that the scrum master is not only there to support the team as a whole, but to also facilitate leadership and mentor individual members. Think of it as keeping the team, and each member therein on the right course.
Decision by Vote
As much as some alphas may prefer it, your team cannot operate like a dictatorship with the alpha simply making all the decisions. Many Alpha personalities will always have something to say in regards to problem solving or giving ideas and feedback. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this, but often they feel the team should and actually needs to follow their unchallenged ideas. This can often create conflict, especially if the best solution is not the one the alpha put forward.
Yes the alpha is helpful in leading the team and rallying the troops, but each member must feel they matter and inhabit a valuable role on the team. Therefore, decisions must be openly discussed, opinions shared, options debated and fairly voted on so all members can participate; in this, the team can own their decisions as a group rather than simply obeying and following one person’s lead. Naturally the scrum master can lead this voting session to ensure things go smoothly and everyone mutually agrees & respects the direction taken.
Champion the 5 Scrum Values
Don’t forget that you’re using scrum for team management so be sure to use all the tools and scrum values at your disposal. Scrum holds five key values above all else in regards to best team working practices:
These values make the core of your team and all members should respect and adhere to them; like a code of honor in a sense.
Courage is needed to acknowledge one’s own position on the team, as well others’ roles; this includes even the alphas who may think their opinion alone is valid. So courage to not fear others’ opinions, input or feedback; rather we welcome and respect them. Team members should understand that everyone on the team is important and to respect what each member contributes as it allows the team to deliver their best quality efforts. This leads to the team being focused individually and as a team to reach that highest level of quality output; therefore, openly giving and accepting feedback is a given so each member can strive to excel at an ever increasing level which in turn pushes the team higher. All of this culminates neatly into a team committed to the project at hand!
Empowered Team Members
Finally we come to perhaps something that seems inherently obvious yet is often overlooked; that is, empowering each team member by giving them ownership and responsibility. A sense of ownership and responsibility are key elements to empowering someone to feel more involved and connected to the work they are doing. They will have a sense of personal investment in the project and therefore, be more confident in the role they play for the team. This will give them more courage and put them on general equal footing with an alpha team member.
Equal footing leads to mutual respect which in turn supports the three points covered above; they are all interconnected and empowerment is the linchpin to connect them all. By giving each team member ownership, based on their accountabilities, we can create team efficiency. This will evolve into a mature, self-driven, autonomous team. All team members will work together and have their own responsibilities that make the progress expeditious and this is what a team player has to be to work on a team. Again, on the scrum team, the scrum master can ensure this happens and lead the team to efficiency. A happy team is a hard working, productive team capable of meeting and exceeding expectations.
As always, the scrum master will play a vital role, but don’t negate the value alpha personalities bring to a team. Having more than one does not have to be a burden or constant source of frustration if properly managed with guidelines and ground rules. You should aim to use all tools at your disposal to get the most out of your team; efficiency and productivity are paramount to great teamwork!
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