Start thinking of everyone in the organisation as a leader. Whether they have institutional authority 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.
Case Studies[edit source]
- New Zealand Post Group - An Agile Executive
- Reality Bites and Stranger Things
- Sustaining Happiness Once You Have It
- Boost Business Agility with Contemporary HR Practices
- The 22000 Persons Start-up
- Evolving from Waterfall to Agile Strategic Planning in a Social Services Agency
- Shipping is NOT Success, Let it Sail
- Haier Elevation
- Are you ready to be a butterfly?
- From solo artists to an orchestra; a journey toward playing as an ensemble
- The Buurtzorg Story
- A Story of Leadership Transformation
- The Yin and Yang of Speed and Control
- The Age of the Self-Managed Organization
- The Agile Leadership Coaching Toolkit helps Essex Students’ Union align to strategy
- Open Salaries - From employees to managing partners by Alexey Voronin
- Business Agility Within A Regulated Utility by Lisa Smith
Further Reading[edit source]
- Maker Time vs Manager Time
- Leading when you're not the boss?
- Deming’s 14 points to managers for transforming business effectiveness
- Pia-Maria Thorén - There is only intrinsic motivation
- Marsha Z Shenk - Curiosity is Your Silver Bullet
- Innovation Agility – Who Says the Corporate Behemoth Can’t Achieve
- Adaptive Leadership and Value Innovation
- Leadership Agility in a VUCA World
- Beyond Budgeting – Business Agility the C-level Understand (and Are Starting to Like)
- Designing Organizations That Work for Lean and Agile Thinking People
- What is Business Agility?
- Agility - Not Enough? Too Much? Trying to Find Just Right
- Structuring Your Business for Agility
- Founder’s Mentality and Micro-battles: Summary
- The Hidden Variable
- Agile Lighthouse: MVV as a Beacon for your Agile Transformation
- From Hierarchy to High Performance with Doug Kirkpatrick
- Agile Leadership by Zuzi Sochova
- Leading Within by Andrea Provaglio
- Certain Uncertainty by Evan Leybourn
- Diamonds on the Soles of Your Shoes by Gracie Koester
- BOSSAnova - Company-wide Agility with Beyond Budgeting, Open Space & Sociocracy by Jutta Eckstein
- The Social Brain is the Big Boss by Marsha Shenk
- Everyone Is A Designer by Liam Hutchinson
- Leading with and in tension by Olaf Lewitz
- The Curious Leader by Judith Mills
Books & Book Reviews[edit source]
- Kaizen - The Key To Japan's Competitive Success
- Beyond Empowerment
- Reinventing Organisations
- Out of the Crisis
- Management - Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices
- The New Economics for Industry, Government, Education
- The Confidence Code
- Agile Value Delivery - Beyond the Numbers
- Company-wide Agility with Beyond Budgeting, Open Space & Sociocracy
- The Leader's Guide to Radical Management
- Implementing Beyond Budgeting - Unlocking the Performance Potential
- The Art of Action by Stephen Bungay
- Certain to Win by Chet Richards
- Focused Fast and Flexible by Tom O'Shea and Nick Horney
- High Output Management by Andrew Grove
- Directing the Agile Organisation
- Limitations & Opportunities of Neurophysiology with Marsha Shenk
- Transforming GE into a Lean Startup with Lars Bruns and Sudhir Nelvagal
- Beyond Budgeting 101 with Nevine White and Mike De Luca
- Job Interview Techniques for Agile Teams with Jason Tice
- Ghosts of Company Past and Future with Melissa Boggs
- Agile HR & People Operations with Fabiola Eyholzer
- Renee Troughton on Uncomfortable Conversations and Agile Transformations
- Phil Abernathy on KPI Madness and Maze Runners
- Author Stephen Parry Says: Don’t Implement – Grow!
- Bill Joiner, Leadership Agility and Agile Companies Outperforming Competitors
- Elina Razdobarina Helps Create Orgs that Don’t Suck
References[edit | edit source]
Join the Business Agility Community[edit | edit source]
If you'd like to continue the conversation with like minded individuals around Leadership Agility, join the Business Agility slack community. Specifically the #leadership channel.
Library Steward[edit | edit source]
This section is currently un-stewarded. If you have a passion for this space and would like to take ownership for the guidance and insights within, please contact Evan Leybourn. The stewards of the Business Agility Library are leaders in their field and we quite literally couldn't create such amazing content without their support. These people & organisations are leaders in the community and, through their actions and insights, continue to expand the horizon of business agility for us all.