How would you define traits and characteristics of an Agile leadership style?

How would you define traits and characteristics of an Agile leadership style?

There are a few things I look for in an effective agile leader.

  • Backstage leadership
  • Actively talking to people
  • Zero tolerance for toxic or outdated management behaviours.


Backstage leadership

In my experience, this is the kind of leader who doesn’t speak first. They are usually the last to speak because they take the time to ask questions, explore lines of reasoning, and attempt to understand the real problem at hand before commenting or making recommendations.

There’s a curiosity present. This kind of leader is genuinely interested in the perspectives of others who are deeply involved in the work and actively making decisions at the coalface. They may start by asking others how they would respond to the threat or opportunity and actively listen to what is being said.

Talking to people

Business agility or agile is built on the foundation of empowering the experts, the people who are actively working at the coalface of the product or problem, to unleash their passion and creativity in an autonomous way.

It’s creating psychological safety for the individuals in that team to speak truth to power and render their judgement or line of reasoning in alignment with what they are witnessing and experiencing.

Simply taking the time to talk to people, to explore their experiences and understand their line of reasoning, goes a very long way in building mutual respect and growing meaningful relationships.

Talking to other executives and leaders throughout the organization that may be able to coach or mentor you through the problem you are experiencing is also a great demonstration of humility and willingness to do a great job.

As you develop those relationships with people on the ground, and take the time to explore what is happening, why it is happening, and how you can help fix problems, you will find that the team begin to open up to you without fear or hiding what the true problems really are.

Talking to people empowers you to help fix problems and remove impediments.

Don’t tolerate a lack of agility in your team

Helping teams achieve true business agility is about helping people to fix problems and remove organizational impediments. It’s about working through the process of discovery with your team and using data and evidence to inform the decisions you make next.

In my experience, agility dies at executive minus one level.

You may support the change and have a deep belief in the agile values and principles but if your immediate reports and leadership teams don’t exhibit and demonstrate agile leadership, you are going to fail.

If you tolerate the old style ‘command and control’ style of micromanagement or allow people to walk around demonstrating the kind of toxic behaviour that was so prevalent in the past, you are going to find high staff turnover, low performance, and that you consistently fail to achieve your goals.

You simply cannot tolerate anyone in the organization that is not committed to agility or aligned with agile values and principles. If you don’t delete those behaviours, those behaviours may be the very reason why you and your organization are deleted from the marketplace.

So, be ruthless in your pursuit of agility and don’t tolerate negative or toxic behaviour from your leadership and management teams.

About John Coleman

John Coleman has deep experience and expertise working with executives, #leadership teams and product development teams to achieve increased #businessagility and create environments where creativity and collaboration produce high-performance teams.

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Agile,Agile Leadership,Executive Agility
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