The Role of the Scrum Master

Posted by Marbenz Antonio on March 21, 2023

How to Cultivate Agile Servant Leadership | Toptal®

Regularly in an agile software development project, the duties of a scrum master typically involve:

  • A scrum master provides instructions to team members
  • A scrum master coordinates with team members and other stakeholders
  • A scrum master assigns tasks to various team members
  • A scrum master strategizes how to bring together team members for the Daily Scrum or stand-up meetings
  • A scrum master limits their duties only to their team and does not expand their role to bring significant organizational change
  • A scrum master may pass on issues to the product owner when the team cannot resolve them, missing an opportunity for organizational improvement
  • A scrum master focuses on daily tasks, neglecting the potential for long-term improvements in efficiency and team skills
  • A scrum master manages a team that is not efficient enough to produce a “Done” increment by the end of each sprint
  • A scrum master manages a team that lacks clarity on the product backlog
  • A scrum master deals with transparency issues with a team due to their previous experience with waterfall methodology in software development.

Do these situations sound familiar to you? They probably do, and it’s easy to get comfortable with them. However, have you considered whether the tasks performed are the only ones they should be doing? Is it possible that there is more to the role and responsibilities of a scrum master? If you think there might be, keep reading.

As the saying goes, the true essence of things often lies outside our comfort zone. When we venture beyond it and explore new ideas, we can uncover valuable treasures that have been hidden away by time and distance, just waiting to be discovered.

Before delving into the treasures that lie beyond our comfort zone as scrum masters, it’s important to first understand what Scrum is and the true responsibilities of a scrum master.

What is Scrum?

According to the 2020 Scrum GuideTM, Scrum is a simple yet effective framework designed to aid individuals, teams, and organizations in generating value through flexible solutions to complex problems. Additionally, it outlines five core Scrum values: Commitment, Focus, Openness, Respect, and Courage.

Scrum is highly valued for its simplicity, which stems from intentionally leaving the framework incomplete. This allows for relationships and interactions to flourish, enabling the collective intelligence of individuals to seamlessly execute the agile software development process. This deliberate incompleteness also allows the team to explore different processes, techniques, and methods while maintaining the core Scrum values mentioned earlier.

What is a Scrum Master?

The Scrum master, also known as the iteration manager, agile coach, or team coach, is a vital member of the Agile team. Their primary responsibility is to ensure a thorough understanding and implementation of Scrum theory by adhering to the guidelines outlined in the Scrum Guide. This position embodies the role of a servant leader who is always available to assist the team whenever necessary.

However, a lack of understanding regarding the true purpose of Scrum often leads to the undervaluation of the Scrum master role, resulting in scenarios as previously discussed. However, with a better understanding and the responsibilities of a Scrummaster, these scenarios can be overcome. Let’s explore the concept of it and how they can significantly improve an organization’s overall efficiency and work culture.

The role of it is multifaceted, with the primary responsibility of implementing the Scrum framework in the agile software development process. To accomplish this, the Scrum master must work not only with teams but also with product owners and the organization as a whole.

ScrumMaster as a Coach

What is the exact role of a coach? Does it go out onto the field and play? No, of course not! Similarly, ait does not need to physically participate in the agile software development process in the lab.

The main task of a scrum master is to train and guide the team to become proficient and self-reliant in managing the development process. Instead of constantly dictating what the team should or shouldn’t do, the scrum master must teach the team Agile scrum project management techniques so that they can produce high-value increments that meet the definition of “Done.”

ScrumMaster as a Counselor

The development process often involves conflicting perspectives from various stakeholders, leading to chaos and tension. The scrum master’s role is to establish psychological safety for all teams involved so that they can perform optimally and generate innovative ideas.

One of the key responsibilities is to encourage the team to acknowledge their weaknesses, address them, and cultivate a culture of transparency and openness, which is a core value of the Scrum framework. The scrum master can train the team to develop the confidence to express themselves without the fear of being criticized or rejected. This entails creating an environment where all team members feel comfortable sharing their ideas and collaborating openly.

ScrumMaster as a Collaborator

The scrum master plays an important role as a mediator between the product owner and the project teams. The absence of the product owner can often lead to delays and conflicts in the agile software development process. A competent scrum master, who is a skilled collaborator, can engage the product owner as an active participant throughout the software development process, even with their busy schedules and other obligations. This productive collaboration helps to build a team that learns to trust the process and the leadership of the scrum master.

ScrumMaster as an Observer

The role of a scrum master requires being a perceptive observer who pays attention to details. They can closely observe the daily activities of the teams and individual members, which allows them to gain insight into their efficiency and skills.

In addition to being a good observer, it must also possess strong listening skills. They listen attentively to all stakeholders involved in the project to ensure that their concerns and needs are heard and addressed appropriately.

ScrumMaster as a Repository of Knowledge

It is also a valuable source of knowledge for the teams. They possess comprehensive knowledge of the product and the processes involved in agile software development, such as Scrum, Extreme Programming (XP), Kanban, and SAFe.

Having an experienced and knowledgeable scrum master is crucial as they can guide the teams through any challenges or obstacles that may arise during the development process.

ScrumMaster as a Builder of Culture

The role of a scrum master is crucial in building a strong scrum culture within an organization. Through leadership, training, and coaching, it helps the organization adopt Scrum effectively and seamlessly, utilizing all of the skills mentioned above. As a builder, the scrum master lays the foundation for a successful agile software development process.

ScrumMaster as a Servant Leader

In this post, the significance of agile servant leadership in the agile software development process has already been discussed. The guide clearly defines the scrum master as a servant leader whose role is to serve rather than command or control.

As a servant leader, the primary responsibility of a scrum master is to assist teams in becoming self-organized and self-managed. They train teams to deliver efficiently by implementing and supporting various practices such as lean-agile practices, SAFe principles, ScrumXP, and Kanban.

As a servant leader, a scrum master also facilitates collaboration between the team and other teams in the Agile Release Train (ART). Additionally, it removes any obstacles hindering the development process, ensuring high-value deliveries, continuous and consistent flow, and process improvements.

By being a part of the community, the scrum master becomes even more proficient in helping teams communicate, coordinate, and cooperate better. Through this training, the organization can achieve its business and delivery goals more efficiently.

Why do Organizations Need an Efficient ScrumMaster?

From the discussion, it is clear that the role of a scrum master is often misunderstood, leading managers to assume the role without fully comprehending its unique characteristics. This is often the case for companies that hastily adopt Agile methodologies without a deep understanding of its frameworks, particularly Scrum. Such companies may find themselves unprepared to adopt the Agile mindset and approach.

To avoid this, companies require a scrum master who is a servant leader, possessing years of experience and training in Agile methodologies and in-depth knowledge of Scrum. This will help ensure that the organization is equipped with the necessary skills and mindset to function in an Agile manner, ultimately leading to success.


The role of the Scrum Master as a servant leader for the Scrum team is essential for the success of agile software development. It serves as a coach, collaborator, observer, walking encyclopedia, builder of scrum culture, and a quintessential servant leader. Their primary responsibility is to help teams be self-organized and self-managed, coordinate with other teams, remove obstacles, and ensure high-value deliveries.

However, the role of it is often misunderstood, and some enterprises assume that a regular project manager can take on this role without proper training and experience. Therefore, enterprises must understand the importance as a servant leader with an Agile mindset to achieve their business and delivery goals effectively.

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