Atlassian Blog Series

What Makes A Great Scrum Master?

Becoming a Scrum Master is challenging by itself. Being a good one is something that requires a little more introspection. In this blog, we explore what qualities make a scrum master go from good to great.

Have you got what it takes?

Is it in you?

If you’re not familiar with agile business practices, you could be forgiven for thinking that a scrum master is someone you might find on a rugby pitch. In fact, ‘scrum master’ is a key project management leadership position – and not everyone makes a great scrum master.

You may not use that particular job description in your organization, but the nature of the role – and the requirements of the ideal candidate to fill it – should be familiar to you. Essentially, like any leader, a scrum leader is responsible for the successful outcome of a project. They do this by managing the flow of the process in such a way that even the most complex, multi-stage projects can be accomplished on time and on budget.

Let’s start with the scrum…

Framework at a glance

The scrum is the framework within which the various components of the project live. It’s built on a continuous feedback loop, thereby ensuring that each iteration of the solution addresses the needs and concerns of your client.

Scrum is an approach which has grown out of agile businesses processes, but in a nod to conventional enterprise models, every successful scrum requires a leader – and that’s where the scrum master comes in.

What does the scrum master do?

Skills needed

It’s perhaps best to answer this question in the negative, by looking at what the scrum master doesn’t do. They are not responsible for making decisions or carrying out the functional steps within the scrum. Rather, their task is to manage the process of the scrum and guide all the stakeholders through that process.

It’s a leadership role, but also a supporting role. This requires a unique skillset, so let’s take a look at what makes a great scrum master?

Vision – and an eye for detail

What Does a Scrum Master Do?

A great scrum master needs to have the project goal in sight. At the same time, they need to be aware of the details involved in each step, so that they can apply the correct tools and processes to help team members overcome obstacles and correct delays.

A service mentality

It's for you not for me

Yes, a scrum master is a leader, but in a very specific sense that is often termed ‘the servant leader’. That is, they should be supporting the team members by providing guidance and advice, and fostering a sense of teamwork and shared enterprise.

Coaching Ability

Scrum Mentor

In the same way that the best coaches were not always the best players, a scrum master doesn’t need to be able to carry out all the tasks within the scrum. Rather, they need to be a facilitator, and someone who helps others fulfil their potential and find ways to achieve more than they might have thought possible.

An Inclusive Approach

It's all about the team

Being a great scrum master is not about top-down leadership. Rather, it’s about encouraging collaboration and shared decision making. Basic psychology suggests that better outcomes will be obtained when each team member feels that they have a valuable contribution to make, and that this is being recognised.

Familiarity with the scrum

Get Comfortable

Scrum master is not a role for everyone, but it is a role that gets easier with experience and practice. The more you work within the scrum framework, the easier it will feel.


The Right Mindset

Especially in smaller teams, it may not be feasible to appoint a dedicated scrum master. In that case, the person who takes on the role part-time will need to balance this with their own project tasks. It’s clear that tension between competing responsibilities could arise in this case, so the scrum master will need to be especially organised if they are to avoid becoming an impediment to project completion.

EPS – helping you master the scrum

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As a software development enterprise, EPS is thoroughly conversant with agile business practices – including the scum framework. For the tools you need to benefit from this approach in your own organization, visit

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