What it really takes to be a SCRUM master

[Updated] The Scrum Guide generally describes the Scrum Master role as one of teaching, coaching, facilitating, and removing impediments. Working towards being a “good” Scrum Master doesn’t guarantee the desired results anymore. As complex projects multiply and new technologies emerge, the Scrum Master role has to be about effectiveness.

Part of being an effective Scrum Master is to reevaluate the previous ways in which you led your team. Is it time to change things up and focus on a more team-based approach for leading?

Here are six ways to be a more effective Scrum Master:

Empower Your Scrum Team

To become a great Scrum Master, you should empower your Scrum team with more control. Your team was assembled for a reason. They possess the knowledge and enthusiasm to tackle challenges and discover innovative solutions. Trust in their abilities and let go of some control when necessary. Knowing when to step in is important, but equally vital is recognizing when you’re not needed.

Master the Art of Influence

Influence plays a pivotal role in the Scrum Master’s toolkit. You need to influence your team, both internally and externally. Initially, you might guide team members towards embracing Scrum or adopting a more collaborative approach. Later, you might steer your team towards new technical practices like test-driven development or pair programming. Remember, influence should be subtle and collaborative, avoiding a top-down, “because I say so” style.

Extend Your Influence Beyond the Team

Your influence might extend beyond the team. You could need to persuade traditional teams to provide partial implementations to the Scrum team, convince a QA director to allocate full-time testers, or even encourage a vice president to consider Scrum. A skilled Scrum Master also possesses corporate political acumen, understanding decision-making processes and coalitions within the organization.

Commit Wholeheartedly

Continuous learning is essential. The best Scrum Masters are well-versed in technical, market, or domain-specific knowledge that aids the team in achieving its goals. Deep expertise isn’t mandatory, but you should be conversant with key technical issues. Knowledgeable Scrum Masters can explain problems to others in the organization and understand the product’s market context, opportunities, and challenges.

Maintain Unwavering Commitment

Stay committed to your role. While it may not always demand a full-time commitment, the Scrum Master role requires unwavering dedication for the project’s duration. Your commitment should match that of the team members. Strive to resolve all known impediments daily, even if complete resolution takes time. Remember, your strength as a Scrum Master lies in making the team’s work easier, not in doing their work.

Be a Catalyst for Change

In this age of innovation, be a catalyst for change. Re-evaluate existing systems and approaches, especially as your organization evolves. Your role is to quickly address issues and create positive impact. Embrace the spirit of improvement and efficiency. Commit to enhancing both your approach and your team’s. There’s always room for more effective teamwork, increased engagement, and greater value contribution to your company. Make this year a year of quality teamwork and positive change.


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