Being a ScrumMaster is an easier and far more effective job than a team leader. In the days before scrum we were all assigned long running tasks by the development manager. The team leaders role was to assist and review whilst also completing his own tasks. This worked fine at first but as deadlines loomed and the pressure increased the team leaders became less and less willing to be distracted from their tasks and the project suffered. People rarely spent time reducing waste to benefit the whole team through automating laborious tasks or re-factoring to simplify design as they were too busy with their own tasks. A year later we are still suffering the consequences.
As a ScrumMaster it is easier to prioritize the team. Spending time removing impediments is easier to justify as it benefits the whole team and the teams (not the individuals) ability to complete is the only thing being measured. With stories broken down into small tasks I should never be more than a few hours from completion, so stopping to help a fellow team member doesn’t become stressful and is generally a rewarding experience. This doesn’t just stop with the ScrumMaster, the whole team is eager to help each other as we all take shared responsibility.
The willingness to share knowledge has seemingly endless benefits. New members of the team (with the right skills) become effective almost immediately. Back in the day we would think ourselves lucky if they were productive in 6 months. We all learn faster. We have a better understanding of each others code. We spend less time going down blind alleys. Its worlds apart.