A good Scrum Master is a servant leader of the Scrum team and works collaboratively with others to create an environment where others can excel. It is an extremely rewarding role, but it does require you to cultivate a number of traits in order to thrive within the role and Scrum environments.
Not all Scrum environments are equal.
In some cases, you may be fortunate to work in an environment where every member of the organization embraces Agile values and principles and works with you toward creating continuous improvement within the team environment.
However, for most Scrum Masters, it requires patience and resilience to grow and cultivate a Scrum team that embodies high-performing, creative, and collaborative teams.
As a servant leader, the Scrum Master carries a lot of influence but does not carry the same authority as a project manager. In other words, you are not going to be able to tell people what to do or how to do it as a project manager would.
You are, instead, going to need to work patiently and persistently with individuals and teams to embrace Scrum values and principles, and incorporate a lot of the rules and recommendations of Scrum into their daily practice.
You may also find that ‘best practice’ does not serve individuals or teams within your environment and you need to embrace a path of experimentation and discovery before finding what does and does not work for the team.
It could take you weeks or months to achieve a small victory for the organization. You need to understand upfront that what you recommend or deploy may not always be popular with members of the Scrum Team.
Sometimes, tough conversations are required. At other times, the data and feedback demonstrate a perspective that although unpopular is a proven improvement for the organization. You need to be resilient enough to endure the hard times and work toward the longer-term goals and objectives.
Being a Scrum Master is a servant leadership role. Everything that you do is in service of the team and the organisation.
In terms of credit and praise, it is the team who receive all the praise and the credit. A successful team is a great barometer of how successful a Scrum Master is; however, a Scrum Master is not often credited with that success.
When the team do well, it is the team who receive the praise and accolades. When a team doesn’t do well, it is often the Scrum Master who must find a way for the team to move past impediments and barriers in order to achieve their goals and objectives.
Where Project Managers carry a lot of authority and receive a lot of praise and incentives for a well- managed project, Scrum Masters carry a lot of influence and must work with others to ensure their goals and objectives are met.
It requires a great deal of humility to succeed as both a Scrum Master and a coach. Sometimes that humility includes recognising that another Scrum Master may better serve the team than you currently are and making that recommendation without your ego being bruised or damaged.
Sympathy often involves joining an individual or a team in the hole they find themselves in. Empathy is understanding that the individual or the team is in a hole, that it isn’t great, but that something needs to be done to overcome the obstacle or impediment.
A great scrum master needs empathy rather than sympathy to thrive. A great scrum master works with both individuals as well as the team to find solutions to problems, opportunities from threats, and to move the team forward in a way that benefits everyone on the team.
You need empathy to help solve the tension inherent in creative endeavours.
Thinking of the product owner, the individuals on the development team as well as the customer requires that you think in terms of leadership rather than authority and servant leadership rather than dictating what needs doing and how best to do it.
In traditional project management, a project manager carries the authority to dictate terms to others whilst the Scrum Master relies on coaching, resilience, humility and empathy to achieve better results.
If you are thinking of becoming a Scrum Master, visit our Certified Scrum Master and Advanced Certified Scrum Master pages. Follow our Scrum Master section for more information on how to deploy, improve, master and lead in Scrum environments.
Frequently Asked Scrum Master Questions
- What is Scrum?
- What is a Scrum Team?
- Do Scrum Masters work outside of Software environments?
- Do I need project management experience to become a Scrum Master?
- How does a Scrum Master differ from a Project Manager?
- Is the Scrum Master a member of the development team?
- What is the difference between a Scrum Master and a Product Owner?
- What is the Agile Manifesto?
- What are 3 traits of a good Scrum Master?
- Are there different levels of seniority amongst Scrum Masters?
- Can you create a Scrum environment in a company that isn’t Agile?
- Do I need to be a developer to be a Scrum Master for a software development team?
- How will I know if a Scrum Master role is a good fit for me?
- Must you be an expert in Scrum to become a Scrum Master?
- What are career opportunities for a Scrum Master?
- What do Scrum Masters do?
- What is a daily scrum and do Scrum Masters lead them?
Frequently asked Training and Certification questions
- Do you get course materials and textbooks on the CSM course?
- How well does a CSM course prepare you to be a Scrum Master?
- How well recognised and respected is the Certified Scrum Master course?
- What do I need to know before signing up on the CSM course?
- What is a Certified Scrum Master?
- What is a good certification path for a Scrum Master?
- What will you learn on a CSM course?
- Will I be able to lead a scrum team after doing a CSM course?
- Are there different Scrum Master certifications and how do they differ?
- Do companies invest in CSM courses or is it predominantly individuals?
- How long is the CSM course and how is it configured?
- Is the CSM course theoretical or practical?
- Is there an alumni group for CSM graduates?
- Is there an exam I need to pass to become a Certified Scrum Master?
- What can I do with a CSM credential?
- What is my earning potential as a Certified Scrum Master?