4 Agile Leadership Tips For A Successful Agile Transformation

By: Agile Velocity | Sep 28, 2021 |  Agile Transformation,  Leadership

Successful Agile leadership means orienting your Agile transformation around a north star and helping teams work towards that goal.

An Agile transformation is a major organizational shift requiring senior leadership to be deeply engaged. The truth is, people at the team level cannot make a lasting shift happen without leaders leading the change. In the last few years, we have seen an influx of new workshops and coaching designed to support leaders during the initial transformation push and beyond. This is great news as Agile has historically only communicated the things leaders can’t or shouldn’t do, e.g. attend retros, task teams, etc. In this article, we provide 4 ways Agile leaders can create an environment that will help the transformation and agility thrive. 

Tip #1. Inspire with Purpose

In 2009, Daniel Pink’s book Drive shifted the way many leaders thought about human motivation, highlighting the concepts of autonomy, mastery, and purpose. While autonomy is driven by trust and mastery is driven by practice, purpose is not always something employees can divine on their own. Leaders should clearly communicate how a team’s efforts make a tangible difference for the business. Connecting a team’s work to business outcomes creates a shared sense of purpose and generates a sense of urgency for improving. 

Tip #2. Create focus 

Agile transformations can be complex and time-consuming. Provide focus for your organization by prioritizing the transformation as a top initiative. Agile transformations often fail because the organization underestimated the commitment required. While transforming your business, you can’t merely go through the motions for a month and then go back to the next fire waiting in the wings. Your job as an Agile leader is to prioritize the change and communicate clear outcomes so the rest of the organization can focus on working towards those outcomes.  

Tip #3. Empower the team 

Problems are best solved closest to the source. When teams self-organize and solve the problems that impact their day-to-day, Agile leaders can focus on optimizing the system. In a systems agility mindset, we are all part of the same group of teams trying to deliver value to the organization. Empowering team members to solve problems at the team level enables leaders to collaborate with their peers on things like how to improve cross-team collaboration, multi-team predictability, and reducing dependencies. 

Tip #4. Enable decision agility

Information needs to flow both up and down the chain of command. Bi-directional communication allows leaders to share strategy, direction, and organizational data so the people closest to the problem can make tactical decisions. As an Agile leader, it is your duty to make sure teams have what they need to pivot quickly because slow decision-making is costly. By building trust and enabling teams to make their own decisions, Agile leaders can focus on the bigger picture.  

Agile transformations fundamentally change the way your organization works, so you can deliver more value to your clients, more often, with better quality. Success doesn’t happen by accident, and people at the team level cannot make it happen without leadership involvement. Inspiring with purpose, creating focus, empowering teams, and enabling decision agility will provide value to your organization throughout its transformation. What are some other ways leaders can support the transformation? Leave your comments below.

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