I, Marijke, applied for a job called chapter lead. Pretty intensively I would say. I studied the job description, the required personality traits and expertise, I even reached out to Spotify to hear their experiences with it. Managing without being a traditional manager! An organization without hierarchy and no more bureaucracy! To me, it sounded like heaven!
Well I got the job and June 15th was the big day. I was so ready for it… thought so at least. The reality check came pretty fast! Being a chapter lead requires a completely different mindset and culture than those required for a traditional manager. It is not a matter of difference in nuances – like I had subliminally assumed – they are just complete and absolutely different jobs! Few months down the road, few tears but many more laughs. Let me give you guys my two cents about the main differences between a traditional team lead and a chapter lead, as I experience it.
Traditional Team Lead versus Chapter Lead: the five biggest differences
- Hierarchy is history: you have to let go of your control freak side. Squads decide with their PO on the what and the how for their purpose (no more SteerCo’s or project boards with so many slides that you fall asleep halfway anyway 🙂 )
- You are a team member within the squad: within the new model, the chapter lead works for x% of his/her time in a squad. That means refining, reviewing and all what comes with the job to deliver value. The remaining time is spent on “chapter leading.” Having one-on-ones with your chapter members. Having knowledge sessions and doing some tribe generic stuff. That basically means: get your hands dirty and work your ass!
- Throw your ego out the window: let me be honest with you. I have an ego. As we all do. But in this new way of working, there is little space for ego’s. Which is great! But, as a human being, you like to feel relevant. And based on the traditional organizational model, you would probably try to feel relevant by steering the squads into the right – according to your wise opinion – direction. And by having a large say in their priorities and representing them in several steering committees. But no more of that! You’ll have to embrace the new way of being relevant! Like;
- Servant leadership: your main task as a chapter lead is to make sure your chapter members are happy. Sounds shallow? Easy? Think one more time!! This is the hard and most crucial part. It is your responsibility to help your chapter members with their development, both hard skills as well as the soft ones. Help them exploit their strengths and handle their weaknesses. Make sure they are properly equipped to perform their job the best they can. A happy chapter member is the best compliment a chapter lead can get!
- Expertise is everything: forget about a generic management role with lots of bla bla bla… A chapter lead is an expert! He/she translates the developments in his/her domain into strategy within the chapter and makes sure it is well transferred to all chapter members.
There is so much to share about this role! So I will share my experiences on a regular basis, in a specific “chapter lead” series. So if you wanna read more, stay tuned! And let me finish off this post by saying that a few months into this journey: although I’m not there yet, I am an enthusiastic advocate of this new role! It’s challenging, inspiring and motivating. Every day brings something new and I am learning every day. More to come!
Wanna read about my first introduction with Agile? Sneak preview, I have a voodoo doll twin sister… 🙂
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