Review: How to lead self-managing teams?

513EGuoKb3L._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_How to lead self-managing teams? Changing leadership from sheepherding to beekeeping – A business novel is written by Rini van Solingen. Rini is the author of, among other books, ‘The power of Scrum’.

In many books on agile, scrum, agile project management, etc., the notion of servant leadership is encountered, but what is exactly meant by serving leadership is not obvious. In this easy to read book, the author has managed to clarify servant leadership and he gives lots of tips to become one!

The book tells the story of Mark, a manager at a large supermarket chain that switches to self-organizing teams. During a holiday Mark visits his grandfather, who in a number of conversations takes him along in his own change from shepherd to beekeeper. Mark’s grandfather shows him how his former role as shepherd is comparable to a more authoritarian leadership style and how he had to change his leadership style in order to be successful as a beekeeper. Mark translates the conversations with his grandfather in a number of lessons for his own organization.

At the end of each chapter you get an overview of the lessons Mark has learned. For example in the chapter Cabinets and Frameworks Mark’s grandfather tells you that you have to give your bees a certain amount of living space in the hive (cabinet). Not too little, but also not too much. And you must ensure that they continue to work within that space. This results in a number of points of attention that Mark links to the lesson: Pick and protect the frameworks. The following six lessons are discussed (See the accompanying figure in which the lessons and accompanying points of interest are expressed):

  • Lesson 1: Harvesting frequently gets results
  • Lesson 2: Disrupting operational direction
  • Lesson 3: Pick and protect the framework
  • Lesson 4: value the apparent chaos
  • Lesson 5: Removing barriers
  • Lesson 6: Let go of your ego

Beeshepperd (180211) v1.0To download:  QRC Servant leadership

In a final chapter, the author summarizes the servant leadership lessons as discussed in the story of Mark and his grandfather, in a simple model. The author calls this the bee-shepherd model (see figure).


A must-read for project or program managers (and other managers) who have to deal with self-organizing (scrum) teams and want to know how to deal with these self-organizing teams and what you have to do, to make this possible and be a servant leader too.

Servant leadership becomes tangible by this book. Because it is written in a smooth narrative style, you can read it in a few hours and you get material to give it a thought and practice with servant leadership for the coming months.

To order: How to lead self-managing teams?

3 responses to “Review: How to lead self-managing teams?

  1. Behice TORUN ÖZTÜRK

    This is a challenging topic and a difficult step for any organization’s management team who is starting to embrace change in terms of way of doing work towards agility : how to lead self-organizing teams? I want to thank Henny Portman for letting me know about this book which seems highly interesting and hitting the target.

  2. Pingback: SAFe recommended reading | Henny Portman's Blog

  3. Pingback: My 2008 book reviews | Henny Portman's Blog

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