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ScrumMaster: Establishing Servant Leadership

20 June 2016

Sureshchandra Sharma
Amfal Tech LLC

Are you practicing servant leadership?

The ScrumMaster role is perceived as that of a supporter, administrator, or facilitator. Though facilitator might sound like the right term, most understand it to mean arranging meetings, providing status reports, or coordinating teams and work. In practice, the role is no less than the CEO role; the role contributes to the team's and organization's success. That means that the focus is on people management — the toughest task in any organization.

The way to establish servant leadership is to build trust within the team.

Building trust

"Trust is caring, and how do we sow the seeds of caring so we reap the harvest of trust?" — Dr. Alan Zimmerman, 4 Keys to Developing Deeper Trust

Adopt these four behaviors for building trust:
  1. Demonstrate character. Character means doing what's right when nobody's looking; it means you care about what's right. Therefore, to earn the trust of the team, you have got to know what's right, do what's right, and walk your talk.
  2. Share information. Practice openness and share what you know; it demonstrates caring and team support.
  3. Follow through. Forget mush talk, such as "Well, maybe . . . ", "I think . . . ", and so on. Simply speak with a clear "yes" or "no" response. If you are going to build trust, when you answer with a "yes," when you give your word, you absolutely must follow through.
  4. Honor one another. Strive for a balance in communication by sharing the talking and deciding functions with team members. In a team meeting, ask for a go or no-go next to agenda items. Address the concern of those who say something is a no-go and ask what needs to happen before they feel comfortable with moving forward to go.
Final thought: Trust is a must, or the team will bust.

Opinions represent those of the author and not of Scrum Alliance. The sharing of member-contributed content on this site does not imply endorsement of specific Scrum methods or practices beyond those taught by Scrum Alliance Certified Trainers and Coaches.

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