Scrum and dominant team members

As I tell people about Scrum, many people ask the same question:  since the object is to become self-organizing and you have changed the role of the traditional project leader, how do you (or the ScrumMaster) handle alpha-employees who try to take over the role of leadership within a self-organizing team?

Any thoughts or commentary ?

Many thanks
Anthony LuciaAsked:
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evilrixSenior Software Engineer (Avast)Commented:
>> how do you (or the ScrumMaster) handle alpha-employees who try to take over the role of leadership within a self-organizing team?

In the same way you'd handle any employee who is insubordinate, via your company grievance procedure. At the end of the day, Scrum is about the team managing itself, but each person in the team is still expected to follow the general company rules, one of which is to do as you're told to do by your boss. If you have one individual who will not toe the line and submit to the will of the team and they continue to be a disruptive influence, then you take them through the grievance process.

Of course, you have to draw the line between someone who is just very keen (in which case you're likely to achieve more with honey than vinegar) and someone who is just being a disruptive member. The latter is someone who has been told (and educated) many times and yet still fails to take on board what is expected of them

Harsh? Maybe, but at the end of the day this person is being paid to do a job and part of that job is following the process and the process you have chosen is Scrum. If they refuse to get on board kick butt!

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Bob LearnedCommented:
I believe that handling this issue is all about what you are capable of--your personality style.  These people need to be kept in line, so that they don't impede the scrum process, since it is important to keep to as strict a time schedule as possible, and to have full and productive participation.   In order to get a smooth-running, self-disciplining team, the members need to feel like a part of the team.  You, as the scrum master, are the driving force, that facilitates the smooth process, and so you need to be a stronger force than the people that you are working with.  Since you don't have a stake in the development process and the stand-ups, you have the freedom to take whatever steps you need to in order to get everybody singing the same tune, even if that means using the grievance process.  It is my preference to find something short of that method, but I am not afraid of using it, if I need to.
Bob LearnedCommented:
Another thing to think about is, "Does this behavior affect the rest of the team?".  If there still appears to be collaboration, and yet everyone still turns to the dominant personality, I don't see a problem with that.  If there does appear to be a problem, then you have the opportunity to approach that person, and find out if they know what effect the dominant behavior has on the team.  Maybe that person is not aware that they are even doing it--instinctive behavior.  

You have the responsibility to facilitate, which means breaking the pattern of detrimental behavior, but not being a detriment in the process.
Cocentrate on the members of the team who are not contributing. Specifically ask them what their suggestions are. If teir suggestions are presented and are any good they will influence the outcome. If they are not any good maybe they should not be on the team. Encourage everybody to participate.
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