Generally there are 4 types of Scrum master
1.Technical - Battle hardened IT engineer who are promoted as SM
2.ProjectManager - SM : Traditional Project Manager who transitioned to SM ( really !!! ). This is a very tricky situation. The traditional PM has to do a lot of un-learning before he/she can become an SM. The PM shouldn’t be made an SM of the same team which he/she was managing.
3.Leader SM - The true leaders SM who love people and help them transform, They may or may not have technical or scrum knowledge. They help in the transition or improvement with their influence and leadership qualities. At any day I would like to work with such thought leaders
4.Scrum Process zealot - SM : Someone who has received a lot of SM training, who follows the rules very religiously to an extend that he/she never allows any innovation (Change) around these. We need such SM’s when the team is new or when going through a lot of volatility. I have personally seen one of my managers helping the team in chaos with his tough rules. Once the team stabilizes such zealots should be transitioned/influenced to exhibit other traits.
We need all these types of SM on different projects depending on their maturity. Over emphasizing any particular trait will not help. Generally I have seen that the best technical person in the team is promoted (transition will be a better word – in agile we cannot promote because all are at the same level ). I am personal example of this (Now you know that I am the best techie. I hate to break this news so openly). I have personally seen that initially it works but the team will still look upto these techie SM for solutions. It was very frustrating for me to hear the pleas for help for providing those simple solutions which anyone can find easily by googling ( or yahoo or bing – I am impartial). There was many ways I made my team think and self-organize. But I had to put additional efforts for this. My effort would have been much easier if I was not a techie SM. Even now sometimes I hear the SOS call for my technical skills. My technical skills made me understand many discussions which happened in the team &I was able to question/influence many decisions. The biggest challenge was to manage myself rather than the team. Whenever I hear the discussion about any technical topic which was dear to my heart, it starts pumping more blood & my brain emits the hormones to my tongue to produce the necessary noise with the information ( oops I have to learn my Bio again , which reminds me that I got 92 % in HSC for biology WOW). Like a project PM I also believe that a techie shouldn’t be made an SM of the same team (especially if he/she was a tech lead). Technical SM should be helping the team members with his suggestions only when they ask and not push his technical knowledge or ideas. Use your brain, don’t answer all the questions guide them so that they can find the answers themselves. Teach your team fishing; dont give them fish.