Learning Minute Agile Leadership

We spend a lot of time talking about how the processes change when we are in an Agile system, but not a lot of time about how we should change the way we lead.

What did leadership used to look like ? That is a rather bad drawing of an Amish gentleman to illustrate the older, out of date type of leadership. In case you aren’t aware what the Amish are, they are a society in America that still lives with horses and carts, no electricity and wear black or other dark colours.

But moving on, to what the out-dated leadership looked like. Here we see leaders who are at worst dictating and telling, at best autocratic parents who care but we still do it their way.

They are involved in the detail and when they listen, they listen to catch you out and find the holes in your argument – so that they can win. They are focused very much on being the one with the RIGHT ANSWER and for everyone else to follow and implement that answer.

In an Agile system leaders are working with autonomous, self-managing teams and are intended to not be in the detail of the work. Leaders aren’t delivering the work or responsible for coming up with the answers. They are no longer listening intently for the detail but are instead listening for how the team is using the detail and information at hand. They don’t correct or give answers, they guide the team so that the team becomes better at thinking and problem solving.    They are servant leaders in that they are supporting how the team is functioning and focused on improving the independence of the team.

Where do you fall ? Are you more on the Amish side as a leader ? Interested in the detail and being the one to come up with the answer ? Or are you more on the Agile side – actively fostering quality thinking and ownership in your teams ?

What would it take for you to be more Agile in your leadership ?


For the next week start to become aware of how you are engaging with the team.

  • Are you all about the content and understanding the work as well as the experts ?
  • Are you trying to catch people out and find the holes in their thinking ?
  • What would it look like if you started to spend time being curious about how they are thinking with the goal of helping them be better thinkers and problem solvers ?
  • What could you start practicing ?