The overprotective Scrum Master

As a Scrum Master you take on a variety of roles and are fully committed to supporting your team in the best and most effective way possible, for example by keeping disruptions away from the team. However, it is important not to be overprotective or shielding. It is important to find the right level of support without interfering with the team's self-organisation and personal responsibility.
A hand that prevents more dominoes from toppling over.


As much as necessary, where little as possible

There are many pitfalls that can cause a Scrum project to fail. As a framework with manageable but clear rules, Scrum offers a high degree of flexibility and freedom. However, this characteristic can also lead to many challenges, as nothing is set in stone. There is a lot of flexibility for the Scrum Master and the team, so only the right interaction will lead the project to success.
An important key is the Scrum Master's role as a servant leader. Even if the team is largely self-directed, the Scrum Master always retains oversight. At the same time it is important to have enough trust in the team without interfering too much. This can be a difficult balancing act, especially if you are new to the role or the team has just come together. It is therefore particularly important to maintain good communication at the beginning to find out what each side needs to make the work go well.

What does the Scrum Guide say?

The Scrum Guide makes suggestions on how the Scrum Master can support the team. Among other things, it recommends strengthening the team in its interdisciplinarity. The Scrum Master acts as a coach to the team and does everything possible to help the team organise itself. However, the approach is very different from that of the project manager.
The main task is to give the team as much freedom as possible to concentrate on creating added value and achieving its goals in a high quality way. Obstacles must be removed, and it must be ensured that all Scrum Events run efficiently and lead to positive and productive results. It is also important to respect the time box. This defines the duration and time frame for an item and ensures that processes are completed on time after a set duration. If not all of the planned content can be delivered, it is moved to the next timebox. This ensures that the team does not exceed the time frame and can focus on their own tasks, without having to worry about time management themselves.

Less is more

Although care and support are important elements in nurturing a team, it is equally important to allow the team to self-organise and take responsibility. If the Scrum Master becomes too involved in the team's activities, making decisions for the team that should be made by the team, this can prevent team members from fully developing their self-organisation and problem-solving skills.
Over-dependence on the Scrum Master can also lead to team members becoming passive and relying on the Scrum Master to solve all problems for them. This can lead to a loss of motivation and commitment. It is important that the opinions and ideas of the team members are sufficiently valued to avoid frustration and reduced participation in the team process.
There is also a danger that a Scrum Master who sees the role as a manager rather than a servant leader will stifle innovative ideas and approaches within the team. An agile team should have an open and creative environment where ideas from all team members can be encouraged. If the Scrum Master constantly intervenes in problem-solving instead of allowing the team to solve problems themselves, this can disrupt the flow of work and cause delays.
If the Scrum Master does not want to influence the team in a negative way, he can also refrain from giving negative feedback. If it is given constructively, the team members will grow and the whole project will benefit. It is therefore important to give negative feedback from time to time.


It is not always easy to find the right balance, but it is important to tell the team what to do to some extent. However, you have to give the team enough freedom to develop. Regular Scrum Meetings are important so that the team and the Scrum Master keep each other informed. This way the team can express concerns and ask for help, and the Scrum Master gets all the information they need.

Overprotective Scrum Master -the IAPM logo
Author: IAPM internal
Keywords: Project management, Scrum Master

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For better readability, we usually only use the generic masculine form in our texts. Nevertheless, the expressions refer to members of all genders.