People Management

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Leadership Agility
The relationship with between individuals and authority within an agile organisation.

Start thinking of everyone in the organisation as a leader. Whether they have institutional authority[1] or not. Leadership models such as Servant Leadership or “leading from the middle” are part of this. While there are similarities, there is a substantial difference from traditional management as we expect the team (including the Product Owner if applicable) to decide and self-correct their own "what". Agile leaders require the ability to inspire purpose, set direction, align teams to business outcomes, remove impediments, and coach & mentor teams.

Key to this is delegation. Not "I need you to put a presentation together by Friday" but rather delegating outcomes. The former model of delegation removes agency from individuals & teams by forcing a path of action and implicitly demonstrates a lack of trust. While it may not be verbalised (or even thought of in this way), trust between leaders and their staff is demonstrated in how we interact with each other. Rather, leaders should be delegating outcomes - and leave the choice and implementation of the relevant actions to their staff.

Don’t mistake this to abrogating your responsibilities as a leader. Individuals who have proven themselves untrustworthy need greater guidance before trust can be regained. But, as we are building teams around competent, trustworthy and empowered individuals, this is the exception rather than the standard modus operandi.

At the pioneering end of business agility and, in particular, Leadership Agility, there is the concept of self-organisation - teams or divisions with no managers. Though this requires a significant level of fluency across all business agility domains, self-organisation take the position that, as Drucker puts it: “every man sees himself as a ‘manager’ and accepts for himself the full burden of what is basically managerial responsibility: responsibility for his own job and work group, for his contribution to the performance and results of the entire organization, and for the social tasks of the work community.” Without managers, self-organising teams remain aligned to company strategy and expectations by being accountable for specific, and measurable, business outcomes.

Finally, don’t forget that it is agile leaders (who may not be managers) who orchestrate and guide the organisation towards business agility. Leaders who help align the organisation to a single purpose, enabling individuals and teams and taking corrective action where needed.


Supporting Frameworks

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How do you "do" Business Agility? Here are all the frameworks, methods and tools for you.


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