Effective Leadership Styles for Scrum Masters

leadership-styles-scrum-master

Scrum masters have to know and be able to apply effective leadership styles to serve agile teams. Servant leadership alone is not enough, Scrum masters need to know a variety of leadership styles to support agile teams and help them to deliver value. This post provides an overview of many effective leadership styles that Scrum masters can use when working in agile teams.

The Scrum guides states that “the Scrum Master is a servant-leader for the Scrum Team”. Scrum masters should help teams to adopt Scrum and improve their way of working, and serve the team by creating an environment where people can work effectively and are protected from outside interference.

Servant leadership is a style that is often mentioned as the leadership approach that Scrum master can use. Mindtools describes it as:

As a servant leader, you’re a “servant first” — you focus on the needs of others, especially team members, before you consider your own. You acknowledge other people’s perspectives, give them the support they need to meet their work and personal goals, involve them in decisions where appropriate, and build a sense of community within your team. This leads to higher engagement, more trust, and stronger relationships with team members and other stakeholders.

Leadership styles

Although servant leadership can be effective when leading self-organizing teams, it isn’t the only leadership style that Scrum masters can use. In fact, there are many other effective leadership styles. A good Scrum master has a toolbox with leadership styles and practices, and knows what to use in which situation.

Here are different leadership styles that Scrum masters can use to support and lead agile teams:

My suggestion to Scrum masters is to read about these leadership styles and try using them in your daily work.

Leadership stories

InfoQ-Logo
InfoQ-Logo

Working as a freelance editor with InfoQ for Culture and Methods gives me access to many modern inspiring ways to manage organizations. Over the years I’ve spoken with people that have had a significant influence in leadership, like David Marquet, Jeff Sutherland, Dave Snowden, Jurgen Appelo, Frederik Laloux, Esther Derby, and many others.

Here are some of the interviews that I have done for InfoQ in which opinion leaders and practitioners share their leadership stories:

Books on leadership

Here’s some recommended reading on leadership:

Book Cover: Book: Soul Centered Leadership
Book Cover: Book: Soul Centered Leadership

Book: Soul Centered Leadership

Book Cover: Book: The Antifragility Edge: Antifragility in Practice
Book Cover: Book: The Antifragility Edge: Antifragility in Practice

Book: The Antifragility Edge: Antifragility in Practice

Book Cover: Book: Make Them Grow: Give Feedback People Apply
Book Cover: Book: Make Them Grow: Give Feedback People Apply

Book: Make Them Grow: Give Feedback People Apply

Book Cover: Book: Starting and Scaling DevOps in the Enterprise
Book Cover: Book: Starting and Scaling DevOps in the Enterprise

Book: Starting and Scaling DevOps in the Enterprise

Book Cover: Book: Managing for Happiness
Book Cover: Book: Managing for Happiness

Book: Managing for Happiness

Book Cover: Book: Putting Stories to Work
Book Cover: Book: Putting Stories to Work

Book: Putting Stories to Work

Book Cover: Boek: Agile Managen: snel en wendbaar werken aan continue verbetering in organisaties
Book Cover: Boek: Agile Managen: snel en wendbaar werken aan continue verbetering in organisaties

Boek: Agile Managen: snel en wendbaar werken aan continue verbetering in organisaties

Book Cover: Book: Commitment: Novel about Managing Project Risk
Book Cover: Book: Commitment: Novel about Managing Project Risk

Book: Commitment: Novel about Managing Project Risk

Book Cover: Book: Debugging Teams: Better Productivity through Collaboration
Book Cover: Book: Debugging Teams: Better Productivity through Collaboration

Book: Debugging Teams: Better Productivity through Collaboration

Book Cover: Book: More Fearless Change
Book Cover: Book: More Fearless Change

Book: More Fearless Change

Book Cover: Book: Kanban Change Leadership: Creating a Culture of Continuous Improvement
Book Cover: Book: Kanban Change Leadership: Creating a Culture of Continuous Improvement

Book: Kanban Change Leadership: Creating a Culture of Continuous Improvement

Book Cover: Boek: Dienend leiderschap: lange termijn vertrouwen is beter dan korte termijn succes
Book Cover: Boek: Dienend leiderschap: lange termijn vertrouwen is beter dan korte termijn succes

Boek: Dienend leiderschap: lange termijn vertrouwen is beter dan korte termijn succes

Book Cover: Boek: Scrum voor Managers
Book Cover: Boek: Scrum voor Managers

Boek: Scrum voor Managers

Book Cover: Book: Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action
Book Cover: Book: Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

Book: Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

Book Cover: Book: Management 3.0: Leading Agile Developers, Developing Agile Leaders
Book Cover: Book: Management 3.0: Leading Agile Developers, Developing Agile Leaders

Book: Management 3.0: Leading Agile Developers, Developing Agile Leaders

Book Cover: Book: Coaching Agile Teams
Book Cover: Book: Coaching Agile Teams

Book: Coaching Agile Teams

Book Cover: Book: iTeam: Putting the 'I' Back into Team
Book Cover: Book: iTeam: Putting the 'I' Back into Team

Book: iTeam: Putting the ‘I’ Back into Team

Book Cover: Boek: Organisatiedynamica - Theorie en praktijk van organisatieverandering
Book Cover: Boek: Organisatiedynamica - Theorie en praktijk van organisatieverandering

Boek: Organisatiedynamica — Theorie en praktijk van organisatieverandering

Book Cover: Book: The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
Book Cover: Book: The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

Book: The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

Try out new ways to lead teams

I try out ideas from these leadership experts and practitioners when I coach and mentor teams, Scrum masters, Product Owners and managers. I also teach leadership practices and skills in my workshops to help people to improve collaboration and increase their effectiveness. As always I’m more than happy to share my knowledge and experiences with you :-).

Who has inspired you with new ideas on leadership?

(Note: post has been updated on January 6, 2017: more leadership approaches added)

Trainer / Coach / Adviser / Author / Speaker | http://BenLinders.com/game | http://BenLinders.com/exercises | editor @InfoQ | agile workshops | people matter!

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