Nagesh Sharma

Nagesh Sharma

Nagesh Sharma’s mission drives him in increasing the joy and accomplishment Organizations feel by delivering value early leading to Customer Benefits and Business Outcomes. Nagesh is an Enterprise Agile Coach, PST @ Scrum.org, ACE Cert. Coach by David & David, Intelligent Leadership Master Cert. Coach by John Mattone and ROI Cert. Expert.

Nagesh is also a certified Facilitator by Management 3.0 & Collaboration Superpowers. He is an active speaker at various international conferences like Scrum Day Europe, Scrum Deutschland, Scrum Day India, Agility Today, Agile NCR and more.

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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.

3 Key Tips for Scrum Masters to Act with More Resilience

By Nagesh Sharma

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 focused 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 Liberating Structures “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 Liberating Structures “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 Liberating Structures “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?”.

 

 

© 2020 by Nagesh Sharma

All Rights Reserved

This article was originally published at https://baa.tco.ac/3FCm

 

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One of the key stances of the Scrum Master is being a Coach. Often coaching is perceived as the art of asking powerful questions. How many times while taking a coaching stance do you ever feel like you’re chasing the coachee? Have you ever felt that the coaching sessions are going around in circles, and your coachee keeps resisting the main issue?

As a part of my journey of Accelerating Coach Excellence, I came across Marcia Reynolds. She is an amazing Coach and has written many books. After reading her books I got so inspired that I committed myself to share my learnings with the larger community.

In this blog, you will explore 3 common myths of coaching and how you can switch gears as a Scrum Master to get on track with your coaching conversations.

Scrum Master’s Toolkit to Coach the Person, Not the Problem

By Nagesh Sharma

One of the key stances of the Scrum Master is being a Coach. Often coaching is perceived as the art of asking powerful questions. How many times while taking a coaching stance do you ever feel like you’re chasing the coachee? Have you ever felt that the coaching sessions are going around in circles, and your coachee keeps resisting the main issue?

As a part of my journey of Accelerating Coach Excellence, I came across Marcia Reynolds. She is an amazing Coach and has written many books. After reading her books I got so inspired that I committed myself to share my learnings with the larger community.

In this blog, you will explore 3 common myths of coaching and how you can switch gears as a Scrum Master to get on track with your coaching conversations.

Myth 1: Coaching is synonymous to asking powerful questions

Have you ever observed a coaching session, what do you remember the most?

Observers often highlight the best questions asked. They don’t recall the reflective statements that prompted self-reflection. The powerful question gets the glory. Coaching as a series of questions can sometimes feel like an interrogation, damaging trust and rapport.

Coaching is a reflective inquiry not a series of questions. In 1910, Dewey defined the practice of reflective inquiry in his classic book, “How We Think”. The intent of inquiry is not finding solutions, but to provoke critical thinking about our own thoughts. Inquiry helps coachee evaluate their beliefs and clarify fears and desires affecting their choices. Statements that prompt us to look inside our brains are reflective.

Reflection includes:-

  • recapping
  • labeling
  • using metaphors
  • identifying key or conflicting points and
  • recognizing emotional shifts

Inquiry combines questions with reflective statements. Questions seek answers; inquiry provokes insight. When you are racking your brain trying to find a good question, you are in your somewhere else but not present.  Being present is more important than being able to ask a perfect question. You need to create a safe space where their creative brains are activated, safe enough to explore their own thinking, and take action. People are naturally creative, resourceful, and whole, this concept was first seen in the work of psychologist Alfred Adler.

As Daniel Kahneman says in his book ” Thinking, Fast and Slow”, we resist self-exploration especially when emotions are involved. We don’t change well on our own. To stop adverse thinking patterns, someone outside our head needs to disrupt our thinking by reflecting our thoughts back to us and asking questions that prompt us to wonder why we think the way we do.

Tip: In your next coaching conversation, instead of asking questions like “what have you tried so far or what else questions”, first reflect words and expressions and then ask a question with curiosity, not memory. You may try mirroring, summarize what you hear, don’t hesitate to share inconsistencies or contradictions. Label an experience for clarification like “I noticed…” or “I heard …” or “I sense …”

“Be the powerful mirror for your coachee”.

MYTH 2: Coaching is about asking Only Open-ended questions, not Closed.

Open questions that start with what, where, when, how, and who will get more than one-word responses. Open, exploratory questions incite a deeper look at what is prompting behavior or inaction. One-word answers to questions shut down instead of open up a conversation. These moments can make the coach uncomfortable, feeling there is nowhere to go in the conversation.

The purpose of questions is to disrupt a pattern or flow of thinking and prompt deeper exploration. The focus of a question should be on whether it opens or closes the client’s mind. As long as the question furthers the conversation, it shouldn’t matter how it is structured.

Closed questions are effective in at least three situations:

  • To help clarify what coachee want to resolve in the coaching
  • To affirm if a reflective statement is accurate
  • To prompt coachee when it is clear they have had a startling insight but they aren’t speaking

Closed questions that follow summaries, such as, “Is this correct?” or “Do you want to change this pattern?” or “Do you know if your expectation is realistic?” can help crystalize thoughts if asked with sincere interest.

Closed questions can be used to test the validity of a reflective statement. For example, when you summarize what is heard and expressed, notice shifts in emotions, or identify underlying beliefs or assumptions, you might ask if the coachee agrees with the summary, observation, or inference.

Tip: You need to create a bond of trust that deepens over time. This trust-based relation is key for being a coach and an effective thinking partner. When the coachee trusts you are there to help them achieve something important to them, they will accept the discomfort of an edgy closed question.

For example, if they realize their actions have been sabotaging their desires, you might ask, “Will you ever be content with the situation as it is?” or “Will you regret not taking action a year from now?” You might follow up on these closed questions with an open question about what they want to look at or do next.

Give up knowing, Be Curious. Mastery is the deepening of presence not the perfection of skills.

MYTH 3: It is easier to give advice than to take the time to coach others to find their own solutions.

Are you providing suggestions or advice taking an outside-in approach or invoking your coachee’s potential by taking an inside out approach? Is your coaching transactional or transformative?

When you tell people what to do, you tap into their cognitive brain, If what you suggest relates to or affirms their current knowledge, they are likely to agree with you. They might have needed outside confirmation to fortify their confidence before acting. Offering ideas might sound like an efficient way to guide people’s actions. This is true, however, you also run the risk of making them dependent on you for answers or approval before they take action. The results are often counter-productive and lead to lower levels of self-organization.

Transformational coaching works from the inside out. Reflective inquiry is a powerful way to create disruptions in thinking that lead to breakthrough transformation and change. When coachee attaches new meaning to themselves and the world around them, their capabilities, their limitations, and what they define as the right and wrong shift. The shifts cause changes in their choices and behavior.

Neuroscientist Michael Gazzaniga says we spend our days in automatic thought processing, rarely stopping to question the reasoning for our choices. Someone outside our brains is needed to break through these protective devices with a transformational approach.

Tip: Practice the art of non-interference by refraining from giving advice or suggestions. Don’t try to be a healer, fixer, or expert in order to be the coach. Consider asking yourself what triggers a breakthrough or self-awareness?

Summary: Here is a small self-assessment for you to know if you are ready to Coach people.

Do not coach if you can’t do the following:

  • Let go of how you want the conversation to go.You want coachee to resolve their problems, but you can’t be attached to how the conversation will progress or what the outcome will be. If you can’t detach, you will end up forcing the conversation in the direction you want it to go.
  • Believe in the Coachees’ ability to figure out what to do.Do you have any judgments about your coachee that could get in the way? If you doubt their ability to find a way forward, then choose to mentor instead.
  • Feel hopeful, curious, and care.If you are angry or disappointed with the coachee, they will react to your emotions more than your words. If you are afraid the conversations won’t go well, do what you can to let go your fear so you model what courage and optimism feel like.

Not all conversations can or should be coaching sessions. Figure out what people & teams need and then choose to coach or take appropriate stances like teaching or mentoring.

 

 

© 2020 by Nagesh Sharma

All Rights Reserved

This article was originally published at https://baa.tco.ac/34oC

 

About Best Agile Articles Project

Best Agile Articles is a collaborative project of the Agile community to bring you the best of the best publications each year. Our goal in publishing these yearly editions is to cull through the many articles that are published each year and provide you with a curated set of high-quality articles that capture the latest knowledge and experience of the agile community in one compact volume.
Our purpose is twofold. First, we understand that it’s hard to figure out where to go when looking for ideas and answers. There are thousands of blogs, videos, books and other resources available at the click of a mouse. But that can be a lot to sort through. So, we thought we could be of some help. Second, we wanted to bring some visibility to many people who are doing outstanding work in this field and are providing helpful resources. We hope that this publication will help them connect to you, the ones they are writing for.
Our intention is that this publication is to be by the agile community as a service to the agile community and for the agile community. With that in mind, we pulled together a great group of volunteers to help get this work into your hands.

The articles in this volume were selected by:
• A diverse Volunteer Committee of sixteen people with expertise in a variety of areas related to agile.
• The agile community. A call for article nominations went out in early 2020 and several dozen 2019 articles were nominated by the community.

The articles themselves cover a wide variety of topics including organizational structure, culture, and agile leadership. There is something for almost everyone here. All editions of the Best Agile Articles publication are available on Amazon and free to download on the Best Agile Article site.
We are thankful for the great participation by the agile community at large. If you would like to participate in delivering this publication in future years, we would welcome hearing from you.

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