Being Effective And Liked


I recently wrote a book as part of a hackathon. It was aimed at Scrum Masters.Within the book I wrote a chapter on the difficulty of being effective and liked at the same time. I would like to share that chapter with you. If you like it you can get the full book (with even better content) on LeanPub.

Being Effective And Liked

This constant battle is important, and probably healthy. Sometimes to be effective you have to sacrifice being liked, and this conflict runs deep. It is natural and instinctive to want to be liked by those around, if you don’t you’re a special type of person. Your ability to be effective and liked can be like walking a tightrope.

This is a common challenge for Scrum Masters and depending on your personality and experience, your ability to manage this will vary. The role in its nature demands both the need for effectiveness, and often to achieve that, the need to be liked.

So yes, we all want to be liked. But, and it is a big but, you are not paid to be liked. As a Scrum Master you cannot get away with shying away from problems, it is your job to confront them. That is was makes you effective.

When talking about this exact problem Todd Henry captures the difficulty perfectly:

You can be both, but you can’t chase both at the same time

In short, chase effectiveness in a way that people will not dislike you. That is our ideal, and here are few films to help you achieve that.

The Illusionist

Self discovery is the holy grail. If you can shine a light on a problem in a way that allows the team or individual to spot the problem, your chance of success will be dramatically higher. They might even still like you at the end of it. The retrospective is your perfect opportunity for this. You can even influence the team into talking about the problems you want.

A Series of Unfortunate Events

If you are struggling to encourage self discovery a good technique is to let it go wrong. Once the team has made a mistake it is much easier for you to highlight the problem. But remember no pointing and saying ‘I told you so!’


The key thing to remember is that you are chasing effectiveness. On occasions you will have to be bold and blunt. Maybe someone is constantly interrupting the team with work outside the sprint. Tell them straight, this is not acceptable. The team need FREEDOM to work.

Thank you to Weronika for the awesome picture!



  1. davidcraiggoodman · · Reply

    Scrum master… isn’t agile dead?

    1. Thank you very much for sharing the talk. I really enjoyed it, and agree with most of it. It is clear that agile software development is by no means dead. Dave Thomas talks about the commercial aspect of ‘Agile’ and ‘experts’ telling teams what to do and how to do it. I agree this is wrong. Although Scrum Master is a poor title (there is a chapter in the book on this exact issue), the role should mean coaching at helping teams take the small steps, reflect and repeat, as described by Dave.

  2. […] Being Effective And Liked (Martyn Frank) […]

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