I like this step process that my friend Mike Dwyer (￼@MikeD999) introduced to me back in 2008. It clarifies the proper approach for coaches and ScrumMasters, especially those who at times are hesitant in being directive. Yes, team empowerment is good, self-organization and self-management is good, but if the team doesn’t have the skill and doesn’t understand what they are doing and why they’re very likely to fail miserably if left to their own devices. Too much choice and freedom to someone at the Shu stage of the Shu-Ha-Ri model just confuses them and isn’t an effective strategy for learning or progress.
Step 1. Lead from the front (directive) using the leader part of servant leader.
Use when the team is lost, going off the rails or about to run back into the burning barn of traditional project management. As soon as the team gets their bearings, starts being honest with themselves, or chooses not to get burned again, move immediately one step back and to the side.
Step 2. Coach from the side (mix of directive and non-directive)
Be there on the sideline giving support, offering suggestions, and providing guidance. Shift to a socratic method. Once the team gets their confidence back, take another step back, moving behind the team.
Step 3. Mentor from the rear (non directive)
Remember you are now a fireman always ready to go when the team rings the bell. When you get to the fire you’ll know which steps to take.