Scrum Masters play a crucial role in improving the effectiveness of Scrum Teams. They are responsible for ensuring their teams improve practices that complement Agile principles while helping the team and organisation focus on delivering value as soon as possible without cutting corners. In 2023, the role of a Scrum Master is becoming increasingly important as more organisations adopt Agile ways of working to stay relevant in today’s volatile market conditions. In this article, we will explore the 10 top skills every Scrum Master should have to be successful in 2023.
If you are a Scrum Master or aspiring to become one, you might wonder what skills are essential to excel in your role. This article will explore the 10 top skills every Scrum Master should have in 2023.
1. Agility And Adaptability
In a study conducted by Development Dimensions International in 2008, one of the most critical leadership qualities was the ability to facilitate change. In my view, this applies to Scrum Masters as they facilitate organisational change. As a Scrum Master, you need to develop a lifelong learning mentality to ensure that shifts in the industry do not leave you behind. From my experience, successful Scrum Masters continue to evolve their skills with the market demand. Of course, this comes with having a deep understanding of Agile Principles and frameworks like Scrum.
2. Servant Leadership
Servant leadership is a critical skill for Scrum Masters. It would be best if you were a servant leader who puts the team’s needs first and works to empower them. In addition, you should facilitate team collaboration, remove impediments, and help the team achieve their goals.
Effective communication is essential for Scrum Masters. Communicating effectively with the team, stakeholders, and other organisation members would be best. You should be able to listen actively, ask the right questions, and convey information clearly and concisely.
4. Conflict Resolution
According to the American Management Association, leaders spend at least 24% of their time managing conflict. Conflict can happen in any area of business. To be effective as a Scrum Master, you must identify conflict and have the foresight to resolve it when encountering conflicts within or between the team and stakeholders. You need to be skilled in conflict resolution and able to constructively and positively resolve them. You should be able to identify the root cause of the conflict, facilitate discussions, and find a win-win solution.
One of the underrated skills of a Scrum Master is listening. Unfortunately, curiosity debt is one of the top challenges due to information proliferation. Listening is often something we take for granted. People often hear what is being said, but hearing differs from listening. To listen, we need to make a conscious effort not just to hear what people are saying but to take it in, digest it and understand it. Listening enhances your ability to understand better, makes you a better communicator, and strengthens the experience of serving the team more effectively.
6. Continuous Improvement
Continuous improvement is a core principle of Agile. As a Scrum Master, you should be passionate about continuous improvement and be able to facilitate ongoing improvement initiatives. You should be able to identify areas for improvement, conduct retrospectives, and implement changes to improve the team’s performance.
7. Coaching and Mentoring
Coaching and mentoring are essential skills for Scrum Masters. You need to be able to coach and mentor the team to improve their skills and performance. In addition, you should be able to provide feedback, inspire the team, and help them reach their full potential.
8. Digital Mastery
In our ever-changing world, digital mastery is critical to thriving. Although Scrum Masters are not responsible for Digital Transformation, catching up with the Trends in the next generation of Organisations can be advantageous. In my experience, Digital Mastery is not a role but a mindset that embraces change to help Organisations see the big-picture and benefits of transformation. They ask, what does the change mean for you and us? How does it deliver the future we want? These skills help Organisations stay caught up. I think this is one area every Scrum Master should invest in.
9. Time Management
As a Scrum Master, you must be skilled in time management. You should be able to manage your time effectively, prioritise, and manage competing priorities that come your way simultaneously. For instance, when i worked as a Scrum Master, I often maintained my backlog to ensure that the most crucial thing that might hinder the team’s progress was attended to first. You should also ensure that the team understand the why’s behind the purpose of time-boxing Scrum events, such as Sprint Planning, Daily Scrum, Sprint Review, and Sprint Retrospective.
10. Emotional Intelligence
Emotional Intelligence is a vital skill for Scrum Masters. You must understand and manage your emotions effectively, communicate empathetically with the team, and build strong relationships. You should also be able to recognise the feelings of others and respond appropriately.
In conclusion, being a successful Scrum Master requires distinct skills to help teams and Organisations achieve sustainable outcomes in an agile environment. The top 10 skills every Scrum Master should have in 2023 include strong facilitation and communication skills, a deep understanding of Agile principles and the Scrum framework, the ability to coach and mentor team members, servant leadership, conflict resolution skills, agile project management skills, the ability to lead change, strong problem-solving skills, and a continuous learning mindset. By mastering these skills, Scrum Masters can guide their teams towards achieving success and delivering high-quality products that meet customers’ needs.