Becoming A True Agile Leader


As the world keeps talking about the results of the US presidential election, I thought there could be no better time to talk about leadership. However, this blog is not about politics and is not about to become one. Instead, I am taking a look into what it means to be a leader in the Agile community and what does the term Agile leadership actually stands for.

Want to know more? Here is your chance.

Contrary to most terms, there is no one clear definition of what Agile leadership is. In fact, some even argue that this concept on its own is foul and should not even be discussed. While it is natural that Agile community rejects the idea of a traditional leader making orders at a Scrum team, it is important to understand that the concept of Agile leadership is quite different from this traditional one.

The concept of Agile leadership was not created to rule the team or the process, but instead to make the said process run more smoothly. While any small team is perfectly capable of getting customer requirements, prioritizing and dividing tasks and presenting the results to the client, as Agile grows the organization is becoming more and more difficult. Larger companies are stepping into the Agile game and the industry is moving away from one team companies and one project teams, therefore an undeniable need for clear goals and inter-team organization appears. This is where Agile leadership comes in.

Instead of ordering the team around or checking their work, Agile leaders become enablers allowing their teams to perform the tasks int the most efficient manner. They take care of cross-team coordination, stay on top of the company goals and focus on the long term planning, which the teams focused on the day to day activities simply do not have time for.

It is also imperative for Agile leaders to understand, that even though they are called a leader, their role is to support and uphold the decisions made by the team. Instead of ruling over the people, they should create an environment that is safe to fail in and make sure to provide all the information the team needs to make the necessary decisions instead of making it for them.

You may be wondering, could the Scrum Master or Product Owner be the Agile Leader role in such case? Well, the answer is both yes and no. In reality, it all depends on your teams size and work specifics. If you are a small company that only handles one product, the Product Owner will be more than enough as the leader. They will be on top of the product, thus coordinating the work without any issues.

However, when talking about larger entities, you will need additional people to do the job. It would simply be foolish to add more onto the plates of a product owner or a Scrum Master, when there are several projects, teams and products at stake. Instead you are much better off having one person coordinate them all without any other priorities or responsibilities, thus keeping the necessary information and overall vision in mind.

When talking about Agile leadership and leaders within the Agile community, it is important to understand that we are not discussing authoritarian leaders that rule their teams. Instead we talk about people that oversee the process, gather all the necessary facts and enable their teams, product owners and companies to do the best possible job they could. Thus we should not be afraid of Agile leaders but instead seek them out and try to maintain an environment that produces more and more people like that. 


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