Scrum Master has to be an extrovert to be successful. So if you are an introvert, most likely it’s not a job for you… Or is it a myth and a misconception? Let’s discuss.
There are a lot of different expectations and interpretations of the role of a Scrum Master out there. Often it is due to the misunderstanding of the role itself and an attempt to align it with other job descriptions, like a Project Manager.
However, when the role of a Scrum Master is understood well, we often attribute certain qualities or traits to this person, without realising that not all of them are really necessary for a Scrum Master to be successful.
I’m not an extrovert
This might come as a surprise for many, but am have always been an introvert.
If you ask the people I worked with, people who attended my classes or workshops, presentations in conference, they will tell you otherwise.
And here is why that is a thing: we often associate introverts with shyness. If you are an introvert, you are afraid to speak to people (or something along those lines). But that’s not what it is about.
It’s actually all about energy, or more specifically, how introverts and extroverts spend and recuperate their energy. Extroverts are getting their batteries recharged when they are interacting with people, talk to them, engage in activities, and more. While introverts, prefer to spend some time alone to rest, not even talk to anyone, and are generally more comfortable with silence.
Introverts still need social interactions, but prefer to spend an hour with a close friend, than a party of acquaintancies.
So, what does this introvert-extrovert theory has to do with Scrum Masters?
Introverts make better Scrum Masters?
That might be a bold statement, but let me explain.
The truth of the matter is how introverts interact with others. Because too much interaction can be quite draining, and as a introvert you might need to recharge your batteries after a long conversation, you chose them wisely.
As an introvert superficial interactions are too draining, but deep conversations with people you know are rewarding. So you natually try to create stronger connections with others, understand them better, and build a relationships. Introverts are excellent listeners!
Talk to me about the weather, and I want to run away. Tell me about a problem you need help with, and I’m all ears, even if I’ve just met you.
Now we should be seeing some patterns with the role of a Scrum Master. Scrum Master is a serving leader, whose success depends on success of others, who cares about people, who focuses on building strong relationships, who wants to help others grow.
All of these things might come more natually to an introvert. In my humble opinion.
Shyness can get in your way
In the beginning of this article I said that introverts are often associated with shyness. And it is for a reason that as an introvert you might be feeling quite shy overall. Compared to an extrovert, at least.
Being shy might feel like a trait – something that you are, something you can’t change. But in reality it’s all about skills. To be more specific, it’s about communication, presentation, negotiation and other similar skills.
I was extremely shy as a kid. Even going into university, presentation and communication didn’t come naturally. But I changed it by working on those skills over the years.
Extroverts constantly practice their people skills because it comes to them more natually – that’s where they feel most comfortable.
As an introvert, if you don’t proactively put effort into depevoping these skills, you might stay “shy” forever. And that’s no good if you want to be a kick-ass Scrum Master.
As a Scrum Master you need to be very good at communication, facilitation, presentation, negotiation, and many more people skills. Introversion can help you build a strong foundation, but you still need to work the craft.
UPDATE: Many Scrum Masters are introverts
After posting this article, many of you have reached out to me or commented. The trend I’ve seen is that many people admitted they are introverts and love being Scrum Masters. Some even said that they thought they are extroverts, only to realise that this is far from the truth.
However, when I asked a question on social media about that topic, the majority of people voted for the extrovert. Isn’t it interesting?
Now is the time for some self-reflection.