8 Winning Qualities of a Scrum Master

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Summary:

A good leader keeps everything in order. In this fast-paced era where agile methodologies have become a more often used framework, a good Scrum Master is what is needed. But what makes a good Scrum Master? 

A good leader keeps everything in order. In this fast-paced era where agile methodologies have become a more often used framework, a good Scrum Master is what is needed. But what makes a good Scrum Master? 

A Scrum Master is responsible for making sure the scrum process is followed and that the team adheres to the rules and practices. A Scrum Master also coaches the team to improve and eventually eliminate impediments. With so much responsibility, a Scrum Master must possess winning qualities to perform the required duties. Here are the eight winning qualities of a Scrum Master.

1. Good Communication

Communication is always a key for a Scrum Master and is especially important in an organization first adapting the scrum framework. A Scrum Master should be exceptional in communication—both in verbal or written forms. He will do a lot of back and forth coordination with managers who he is reporting to down to team members in each process to make sure that scrum practices are followed.

Scrum communication isn’t about giving orders to team members either. A Scrum Master must be able to carefully listen and comprehend when his members report on progress and blockers. Most of the time problems are raised to Scrum Masters for resolution. If one does not know how to listen and comprehend what the problem is, it is difficult to arrive at the right solution. 

2. Responsible

A Scrum Master is often the representative of the team to management and other teams. A good one should be able to stand up for them when something is needed or there is a crisis. The responsibility entrusted to the Scrum Master does not come with power. Their responsibility is to guide the team into the adoption of the scrum process and practice it. The advantage of being a responsible Scrum Master is you gain your members’ trust. Once the Scrum Master has established that, members will listen more and thus commit fewer mistakes and will contribute more to the success of the team.

3. Meticulous

A Scrum Master has to be meticulous and have great attention to detail. Why? Because it is her responsibility to come up with ways and strategies on how to properly implement solutions to problems. The level of attention may vary depending on the difficulty of the problem. 

4. Multitasker

A Scrum Master should be able to do multiple tasks at the same time even if it means doing tasks that he is not used to. However, a good one should be able to quickly adapt to keep everything according to schedule, thus he must be a multi-tasker. Problems and issues can occur when least expected, and more often than not, all at the same time. 

Part of being a multitasker is being resourceful. To be able to reduce, if not eliminate impediments, he should be able to find quick ways to solve problems even with little to no resources. He should be able to take whatever it is around and look for clever ways to address the situation at hand. The Scrum Master should be able to quickly change gears when bombarded with such situations.

5. Committed

A Scrum Master’s role may not involve around-the-clock work, but a full commitment is required. Her work does not end when a certain impediment is being solved. Also, some impediments take days or weeks to eliminate, so commitment is required to be able to follow through the progress of eliminating these impediments.

For example, when you ask your manager to allocate a huge resource for the whole team, you wouldn’t be able to get it right away. It will involve a series of meetings and discussions between involved parties. 

A Scrum Master should be able to commit to the full duration of the project. And besides, it is very disruptive for the team members to change Scrum Masters mid-project. 

6. Influential

Why is being influential a winning quality for a Scrum Master? Sure, being a leader assumes a level of control in a team, but being influential will do the team much more good than just giving out commands. Avoid asserting yourself just because you are the leader. A Scrum Master must be able to influence both the team itself and those outside of it.

First, a Scrum Master needs to influence team members to give the scrum process a fair trial. This allows team members to behave more collaboratively. A Scrum Master may also influence the whole team to try new technical practices, such as pair programming and test-driven development.

Second, a Scrum Master needs to influence those outside the team. A Scrum Master may need to influence the operations manager to assign resources to the team or to explain to company executives the importance of scrum—and eventually convince them to try it.

However, Scrum Masters should know how to use their influence without having to resort to the “because I say so” style. The ideal Scrum Master should come with a degree of corporate political skills, know how decisions are being formulated in an organization, and most importantly be an asset to the company.

7. Collaborative

A good Scrum Master ensures that a collaborative culture exists in the team. Team members should be able to freely raise issues and concerns that are up for open discussions, and they should feel supported in doing so. Also, team members should be able to freely express their ideas, which might give solutions to existing problems.

Furthermore, this type of environment will resonate with team members as they will feel confident and not be intimidated by their Scrum Master and other members, which allows them to give and accept criticism from other team members.

8. Composed at All Times, Despite the Chaos

You may be helping your members with the process now, solving problems later, and then resolving an impediment. Everything tends to be very chaotic at times! A good Scrum Master must be able to maintain composure despite the chaos.

A good Scrum Master does not shy away when problems arise. He must be quick in coming up with solutions even in the most chaotic times. Mind you, these are not just solutions that will stop the existing problem, rather they will prevent it from happening again. It would also be a good additional skill if a Scrum Master can foresee and stop problems from happening. 

To put it into perspective, if the house is on fire, a Scrum Master should not be found running away from the house screaming his lungs out. Instead, he should be like a firefighter—always focused and composed in assessing the situation. A Scrum Master must then be quick to apply a solution where it’s needed.

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