Updated: Jun 6
Today’s working environment is faced with a myriad of challenges such as uncertainty, inflation, and most of all rapid change.
Agile Leadership dares to challenge the status quo, disrupt conventional thinking, and ignites adaptive minds to promote innovation and success.
But for leadership agility to be achieved takes a journey, removed from focusing too much on the hardware of leadership frameworks.
As my great mentor, and founder of Agile Leadership Journey, Pete Behren’s puts it: “Effective agility is not a solo activity. The key to agility is that it is a team sport.”
Looking at today’s common organisational model most businesses use, it evolved for stability.
You know the drill. It is based on the concept of a machine with a flat, siloed structure focused on control. It’s a concept for days gone by. Most organisations today are under pressure to respond and innovate and adapt quickly to retain and build market share.
Agile is an empirical approach which leverages experiments, and failures and it brings others in to help solve problems.
But it’s important to note, true agility extends beyond project teams - it requires effective Agile Leadership to create an adaptive organisational culture. It’s about holding challenging conversations with team members and stakeholders and creating space to give and receive feedback and building micro-cultures in ourselves and our teams.
Let’s look at some of the key principles of Agile Leadership and how it fosters resilience, innovation, and continuous improvement. Please feel free to also join our next Agile Leadership Journey course which unpacks all this in greater detail over two days.
What is Agile Leadership
Agile Leadership involves a shift from traditional command-and-control management to a servant leadership approach. It sharpens focus, accelerates action and responsiveness, focuses on empowering teams, fostering collaboration, and enables decision-making at the appropriate level. It embraces the values and principles of the Agile Manifesto and provides a supportive environment for teams to thrive.
What makes an Agile leader
Agile leaders exhibit specific characteristics that set them apart. They are facilitative, empathetic, and communicative and actively listen to their teams' needs to remove obstacles. They foster trust and psychological safety, encouraging creativity and experimentation. Agile leaders lead by example, embodying the agile mindset and principles.
Empowering Agile Teams
Agile Leadership is about empowering teams to take ownership and make decisions. It's a shift from reactive to creative. It involves setting clear goals and providing the necessary resources while allowing autonomy and self-organisation. Agile leaders support their teams by facilitating communication, collaboration, and learning, enabling them to deliver.
Continuous Learning and Improvement
Agile Leadership recognises the importance of continuous learning and improvement. Leaders encourage a culture of feedback and reflection, promoting regular retrospectives and learning loops. They embrace the concept of "inspect and adapt," fostering a growth mindset across the organisation.
Creating Agile Organisations
Agile Leadership extends beyond individual teams to transform the entire organisation. It involves aligning different departments, promoting cross-functional collaboration, and embracing Agile frameworks such as Scrum or Kanban.
Agile leaders promote transparency, shared goals, and a customer-centric mindset throughout the organisation.
Agile Leadership in Practice
Several real-world examples demonstrate the impact of Agile Leadership. Spotify, known for its innovative approach, implemented a dynamic leadership model called "tribes and squads," enabling decentralised decision-making and fostering innovation. The agile transformation at ING, a global banking group, showcased the importance of leadership support and empowering employees to drive change.
Resources for Further Reading
For deeper insights into Agile Leadership, here are some good sources of reading:
"Leadership Agility" by Ronald A. Heifetz: A book that explores adaptive leadership and the skills required to thrive in complex and rapidly changing environments
“Enterprise Agility: Being Agile in a Changing World” by Sunil Mundra. A book that provides practical guidance for Agile leaders, focusing on mindset shifts and organisational transformation.
"The Manager's Path" by Camille Fournier. This book offers insights into different management levels and provides guidance for managers transitioning to Agile Leadership roles.
Agile Leadership is the cornerstone of successful Agile transformations. By embracing servant leadership, empowering teams, fostering continuous learning, and transforming the organisation's culture, Agile leaders create environments where innovation, collaboration, and adaptability thrive. With the right mindset, skills, and support, Agile leaders pave the way for sustainable growth and success in today's dynamic business landscape.
Agile Leadership is an ongoing journey, requiring continuous learning and adaptation.
Join our next Agile Leadership Journey course.