As a true leader the scrum master serves

leadership Scrum scrum master

If you would like to learn how a strum master serves their team, just keep reading this post.  You'll learn how and why scrum masters serve their teams.

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as a true leader the scrum master serves

 This tutorial is part of a series on Scrum essentials.

  1. What is Scrum
  2. What to do if your scrum teams becomes too large
  3. Who owns quality in a scrum team
  4. What is the rationale for scrum teams implementing short sprints

You can't really understand Scrum until you're ready The Scrum Guide so please head over to there first.  

As a true leader the scrum master serves their team in 5 key ways.

  1. Keeping the team on task 
  2. Keeping the team on time
  3. Keeping the team focused on their goal
  4. Resolving problems before they hurt productivity
  5. Protects the team from distractions

Keeping the team on task 

I know it's not easy, but congratulations Scrum Master, you get to keep your team on task.  

While this may sound really hard, it doesn't need to be hard.

Here's the best thing you can do to keep your team on task.  Listen to the conversation at the daily update.

You should hear lots of discussion and updates about the tasks in the Sprint Backlog.  If not, you know your team is off task.

You can gently guide them back on task by suggesting the team focus on the Sprint Backlog Items that everyone committed to at the beginning of the sprint.

Keeping the team on time

As the servant leader of your team, you need to keep your team on time.  There's a few important aspects of this leadership task.

    1. Keep all events on time (review the The Scrum Guide to check how long each event is).
    2. Keep the sprint on time (finish everything in the Sprint Backlog early)
    3. Keep the work day on time (don't let the team burn out with long hours)

If you do those three things, your team will be on-time and happy.  You'll see your velocity go up and your happiness stay high.

Most Scrum Masters don't mind the time well enough.  As a result, the events run long, the workday spills into the night, and the Sprint finishes late.

Don't let that happy to your team.  Lead well by keeping your team on time and letting them find work-life harmony.

Keeping the team focused on their goal

Scrum Masters who focus on the Sprint Goal have massive gains in happiness and team accomplishments.

Here's why, if you focus on the goals of the sprint, backlog, and product your team will have a greater sense of purpose.

You might not appreciate how important purpose is.

Take a moment to read the excellent research The value of a purposeful life: Sense of purpose predicts greater income and net worth or if you prefer popular leadership books you can't go wrong with Start With Why.

Resolving problems before they hurt productivity

Leaders resolve problems.  The harder the problem, the more senior and skilled the leaders must be to solve it.

That's why CEOs solve the companies hardest problems.

Scrum Masters should solve as many problems as they can and they should solve them fast.

You can read good research about the importance of problem solving at Creating and transferring knowledge for productivity improvement in factories

Protects the team from distractions

Distractions are everywhere today.  You can see their negative effects in such research as Mind wandering, control failures, and social media distractions in online learning.

You can see how distractions slow down teams with the research at How blocking distractions affects workplace focus and productivity.

The bottom line is you need to do something to shield your team from distractions.  You can't block all of them, but you can block some.

Here's a few tips:

  1. Encourage people to keep their phones face down
  2. Build in short breaks every two hours or so
  3. Encourage people to be present during all events, no distractions
  4. Avoid multitasking
  5. Set a good example by doing these things yourself

Servant leadership definition

While it's simple to define servant leadership as,

"Servant leadership is a leadership philosophy in which the goal of the leader is to serve. This is different from traditional leadership where the leader's main focus is the thriving of their company or organization."


You don't really understand what it means till you've actually worked with a servant leader.

Take Ghandi as an example.  He led one of the largest movement in history and he did it without regard to his own benefit.  He was a servant leader.

In the business world you can take Herb Kelleher – Former CEO of Southwest Airlines as a role model.  He was known for employee first leadership that also had amazing business results.

So yes, a servant leader is someone who is:

  1. Strong
  2. Decisive
  3. Bold
  4. Caring for their team

The most important part of leadership is genuine care.

You can fake lots of things, but you can't fake caring.

If you try, your team will see right through your fake leadership.

So, if you don't care about your team, spend time with them, get to know them, and develop a real concern for them.

It's only through real connection that you will become an effective leader.


I'd like to thank Niranjan Limaye for his excellent post that inspired this post.  You should check it out if you have a minute.

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