In our ScrumMaster Pro workshops, we often have to deal with the issue of uncertainty and lack of clarity in roles as a ScrumMaster or PO. New role models such as a ScrumMaster inherently take time to become established and achieve the defined acceptance. When I ask about this, answers point to the reality of the fact that people feel there is often too little self-assertion and conviction shown towards superiors or those on the next level down. One is unsure about what one may or may not do, who to turn to, how much equality particularly towards the management is allowed or desired, and so on. This comes to the fore especially when obstacles are to be solved, but also when dealing with intersections or even with one´s own team. What is lacking is quite simply sufficient and clear legitimation.
What is legitimation?
Thus there is good reason to ask about the meaning of legitimation in the role and function of ScrumMaster (PO Team leader, Project leader). Legitimation is an important formal element of leadership, whether disciplinary or lateral.
Legitimation (from Lat.: lex, legis = “law”, “justification”) in its present sense means empowerment, verification. Legitimation is the justification of existent structures and rules, and thus a relevant element in being authorized to take action for executives and functional power. Legitimation in this context supports Standing, conviction and the management´s power to influence. It is important to note here that legitimation should be regarded three-dimensionally:
- Legitimation through the system from above
- Team legitimation from below
- Self legitimation from “within”
System legitimation means that those responsible in the company allocate a clearly defined and formally agreed upon role profile to the person in this role. Responsibilites and competencies have to be determined, considering and making clear all possible consequences when
put into practice. If for example the ScrumMaster is allowed to communicate with the management on an equal footing, if he may give impetus in the area of personnel development, then he may or will even have to escalate when conflicts arise. The important thing is that commitment to the legitimation be clearly and explicitly communicated from above to the teams and also to interfaces in the system.
Team legitimation is earned by the person in this role through communication with the team and building confidence with them during intensive contact. This takes place indirectly through appropriate behavior in the role of leadership, and expresses itself in the acceptance of superiority by all team members, and in their specific contribution towards self organization. Team legitimation can also be specifically addressed and actively pursued, for example by clarifying expectations and demarcating competencies.
Self legitimation is the inner authority to take on a special role in the team´s self organization and working process. This means being convinced that one´s own role is useful and valuable for the whole, and confidently displaying this. Self legitimation means appreciating one´s own skills in order to practice them confidently, without arrogance, even if one can maybe still improve and learn more. Ideally this means appreciating one´s role. Only those who enjoy leading, lead well.
Particularly a ScrumMaster, not yet being a consolidated or standardized role model in the company, should ensure that he or she is sufficiently, even three-fold, legitimated, in order to play his or her key role well and efficiently. This does not always happen automatically, and is not guaranteed by a certificate, but it takes courage, effort and tenacity to get there.