Emotional Intelligence Is the Key to Scrum Mastery

Henrique Ruocco
Scrum team having a productive conversation, displaying emotional intelligence

The intelligence quotient, the famous IQ, is unlikely to be a reliable marker for success. Many intelligent people are introverted or struggle with some social situations. This poses challenges in the business world. According to Joanne Trotta, founder and managing partner of Leaders Edge Inc., people who have an average IQ outnumber those with a high IQ almost 70% of the time among leadership. But why is this? The missing piece is called Emotional Intelligence, or EQ.

What Are These Intelligences? How Are They Linked to Our Daily Lives?

Cognitive intelligence consists of processing information we extract through values, ideas, and experiences. As a result, we can learn new things from brain activities that have already been worked out. When we read a book, we can learn new things or immerse ourselves in a different world. Through this process, we are able to develop our cognitive intelligence by distinguishing what is concrete or abstract data.

Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize and control one’s emotions. If well-developed, it can help guide your efforts, behaviors, and thoughts to the point of improving your everyday relationships. This is defined by four attributes:

  • Self-Management
  • Self-Awareness
  • Social Awareness
  • Relationship Management.

IQ alone is not enough to be successful. It is necessary to know how to interact with and relate to people. Here, we’ll discuss the importance of emotional intelligence within Agile methodology, specifically in the daily life of the Scrum Master.

Why the Scrum Master? To play this role, it’s necessary to have a wide range of skills and experiences. Your responsibility is to serve the team, managing your shortcomings so that all of you can achieve your goals. These responsibilities include:

  • Ensuring the team supports the scrum process.
  • Creating high-performance teams with the skills to deliver value.
  • Monitoring conflicts and analyze how members deal with them.
  • Supporting the product owner in structuring the product backlog, with the goal to add more value to the business and improve ROI.
  • Assisting in decision making.
  • Monitoring the entire flow of the sprint, making the stages more visible to those involved.
  • Fulfilling the fundamental role for the dissemination of framework within the organizational culture.

Based on this list, we can conclude the primary activity of a Scrum Master is to deal with people all the time.

Cognitive Intelligence vs. Emotional Intelligence

Every day, we focus our efforts on learning and expanding our knowledge. This helps us develop cognitive intelligence. But too often, we forget how important emotions are in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives. After all, we still spend more of our time with people than with machines.

The interaction between people inside or outside teams is often tricky. This is because teams are composed of people, and each one has its own particularities. In many cases, friction between members happens because of the lack of acceptance for some of these particularities. This can particularly be the case between dedicated tech teams and the client’s internal teams. Unchecked, this can lead the team to failure by generating discouragement, frustration, anxiety, or fear of rocking the boat.

Since one of the main roles of the Scrum Master is to manage the team’s impediments, having your emotional intelligence in check will make you able to deal with these issues flexibly. You’ll be able to observe and understand the situation without escalating the conflict. This “Zen” way of acting can be contagious and can positively influence the team to think better in the face of a situation.

An emotionally intelligent Scrum Master can bring other benefits to the team, such as:

  • Assist in recognizing and impartially resolving conflicts.
  • Raise team morale, helping to explore each members’ potential.
  • See opportunities that others don’t recognize.
  • Be resilient and adapt better to changes.
  • Deal with the client more efficiently and with improved negotiation skills.
  • Emotionally prepare the team to become self-managing and able to deal with problems on its own.

When taking on the role of Scrum Master, like any other leadership role, emotional intelligence is a key to dealing with the human element of business.

Agile innovation with Programmers

The Scrum Master is a key role for any Agile software development initiative. And Programmers can help you quickly ramp-up your agile development practice with our Scrum Masters and Development Teams. We focus on building effective digital solutions, shortening your time-to-market and accelerating your ROI. Read more to understand our digital product development process.

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