I have been playing with some patterns and anti-patterns to support leaders who are shifting into a way of leading that leverages the delivery potential of an agile transformation. Because like it or not, one of the most significant limitations to how successful an agile transformation is are the leaders and how they lead.

There are the obvious anti-patterns (shift from telling to co-creating), the not so obvious (leaders go last not first) and then the really subtle (the definition of success is how the team is doing and the ease of delivery and alignment to outcomes rather than the how of delivery).

What else is on the list of things that make agile harder and slow delivery down

  • decision making waste where every and all decisions slowly make their way up the ladder and get made months later on data that is no longer relevant,
  • leaders being experts and committed to their way of solving the problem,
  • leaders imposing their perspectives and views on teams.
  • leaders needing to be in the detail, afraid that they will be let down by their teams and in that process held accountable for something they actually had no control over – the performance of others.

The things that make a difference are harder to define

  • leaders who are an active part of the problem solving process but who don’t solve the problems, they lend their experience and expertise and keep the team focused and on track
  • leaders who are humble and expect their teams to live their greatness and use their strengths, even if that ‘shows them up’
  • leaders who give away decision making with clear guidelines and boundaries and support and so set up their teams for success
  • leaders who have redefined success as creating a system in which teams find it easy to succeed and deliver

This last one has me pondering as I can’t help wondering if this has always been the definition of success – getting work out the door. So, is agile leadership more in the how than in the what ?

A shift from being in the thick of it to being what feels like an outsider ?

From hero to guide & custodian ?

From visible to invisible ?

From me to us ?