In an ever-changing world, responsiveness and flexibility are becoming increasingly crucial traits for both managers and team members alike. Have no fear, however—Agile is here, and with it comes the skills you need to keep up! By going Agile, your association can increase its value production, improve customer satisfaction, increase employee motivation, and boost profitability. That’s a win-win-win!
But before you can reap your rewards, you’ll have to put in the work and become the best Agile leader you can be. That’s where we step in to help! Read on for the 5 Fundamentals for Becoming a Great Agile Leader:
1. Develop an Introspective Mindset
As an Agile leader, it’s important to look inward and reflect on yourself frequently during your project. Intuition is an important facet to develop; it promotes innovation and allows you to be active and proactive, rather than passive and reactive. Make sure you pay attention to yourself, your surroundings, your team, and your product throughout the process; this will make spotting issues—be they internal or external—faster and easier to fix. Remember, your objective is to deliver value; every project, every delivery, and every sprint should further this goal!
Communication is crucial when it comes to Agile. If you clearly define your target, your team members will better understand what steps need to be taken to reach it. One of the best ways to do this is to always focus on the why. Explain yourself, your actions, and your goals—make sure to emphasize the why of everything you do. By providing context for your decisions, your team will be able to achieve targets in ways you may never have considered. Transparency is key in Agile, and the more open you are with your team, the better they will respond.
When going Agile, you also want to make sure that you act as an inspiration to your team, continuously motivating and uplifting them in order to bring out the best of their abilities. Always remain passionate about your work. After all–if you’re bored, your team will be bored, too! Positivity is infectious, so make sure to spread yours wherever possible
2. Become a Servant Leader
When it comes to Agile, there are no “bosses” nor “followers”. Everyone is on the same level, and everyone brings something special to the table. When working on an Agile project, you aren’t in it alone; remember to collaborate with everyone on your team! You can even bring in co-leaders to take turns guiding the team when it comes to what you each do best.
Maintaining an iron grip on the control of the project is one of the worst things you can do when you’re trying to aim for flexibility; instead, be fluid and willing to adapt. Share your vision with your team and work towards it together, while still remembering that every destination can have a dozen paths to reach it. It’s up to your team to find the optimal route!
Your team members are the most valuable piece of the project puzzle; without them, a project is nothing. Show your team that you care about them—don’t focus only on your own goals, but of the goals of the members. Engage with their thoughts and ideas, allow them to teach you, and put your trust in their abilities. Foster an environment of learning that encourages questions, both from yourself and from your team. If you don’t know something, that’s ok! Admit it and ask your team for help. They’re as much experts in their fields as you are, and your honesty will only build stronger bonds between you.
3. Help Others Grow and Shine
An Agile leader must know how to nurture their team members’ skills to flourish. Guide your team members in recognizing and developing their talents, and never be threatened by their success. In this vein, you must be able to recognize when to take a step back and let your team take credit for their actions. If a project has gone well, let them take the stage—they’re the backbone of development, and you wouldn’t be able to deliver value without them! Acknowledge and congratulate them for a job well done.
In addition to empowering your team to make its own decisions, you must also focus on the needs and wants of your customers. A product is only truly successful when the client is happy with it, so if you want to help your team achieve greatness, customer satisfaction is the first step. To do this, you have to build trust not only among your team, but also among your clients: be reliable, competent, timely, organized, and collaborative.
4. Improve Teamwork Wherever Possible
When working collaboratively, you want to build trust in both your team and its leader. This makes the unit more cohesive when working together, as everyone has each other’s back. This makes the development process run smoothly, even in times of difficulty.
While the Agile leader is the one tasked with helping to steer organization and provide encouragement, it is the team members who actually develop and deliver. The leader must know how to keep everyone functioning as a solid team—there should be no “every man for himself” attitude! Put your trust in your team and allow them to self-organize and direct their own schedules and tasks; they know themselves and their process better than anyone, so they know best how to achieve the targets you set. This doesn’t mean you can’t lend a guiding hand, of course, when it’s required–but always be sure to give them enough space to let them independently prosper.
5. Always Be Improving
Agile leadership isn’t just a simple role—it’s a constantly evolving experience, and you have to be open to continuous improvement and adaptation throughout the project. If something isn’t working, you have to reflect, analyze, and adjust.
Constant learning, advancement, and development are at the core of Agile. Embrace new ideas and suggestions, regardless of where they come from. Everyone should feel safe and free to offer their recommendations and advice—what they have to say may surprise you! Allow experimentation and think outside the traditional norm. Just because something has “always been done this way”, that doesn’t make it infallible. Even seemingly flawless processes can stand analysis and improvement every once in a while!
Above all, welcome adversity. There is opportunity in the challenge, and every setback simply gives you the chance to overcome and create something better in the process.
Now, go forth, armed with these 5 Fundamentals for Becoming a Great Agile Leader–the development and delivery of value has never been so exciting!