Close this search box.

Leading With Agility: 3 Ways to Do It Well

Agility, being Agile, using Agile tools.

For the last couple of years those words or phrases became viral: there are so many training sessions, certification programs, workshops and growth paths connected with this. Thinking in an agile way or leading with agility appeared in the job descriptions, since it looks like a leadership skill that is necessary in these crazy, fast pacing time where things are changing all the time.

And yes, it is a quality that can be extremely useful, because the change was, is and will be with us no matter what, regardless of the period of history we live in at the certain moment. But I’ve seen many times that this subject was copied and pasted from the project management books (literally 1:1) and not really tailored to the context of managerial work. There are many common points of working as leader with the team and while being a project manager, but there are also many differences that need to be taken into consideration. To have useful tools, that can be implemented successfully, without frustration that it doesn’t work, or is not applicable at all to the certain circumstances.

So today, we are going to go deeper into the subject and see how to lead teams with agility in 3 areas by using what is the best in agile into the reality of a manager.

1. Reshape your mindset (from fixed to growth)

Leadership agility is a set of competencies, abilities and attitudes. But the most important thing of all this is mindset.

Mindset combines all the thoughts, convictions, beliefs and abilities we have, and it creates the way we look at the world. These are the glasses that we put on to see and interpret what is happening around us.

A leader that has a fixed mindset sees the world of restraints, sometimes without a perspective for it to improve. This person operates daily based on thinking about the change as a threat, something that can rob him/her from what they’ve work on so hard for years. They see new things as challenges to the status quo that are in their comfort zone, often by using the sentence: “it always worked, why to bother changing it?”.

A leader with a growth mindset at the other hand has an open-minded perspective, she/he thinks holistically, looking for opportunities and space to learn every day. Every mistake is a chance to learn, be better next time and have a constant possibility to try different approaches, ideas, making their workspace a better environment for their people.

When you have a fixed mindset as a leader, you will probably never go to the agility leadership space. Agile means adaptive, changing regarding the circumstances, tailoring the approach, response or reaction adequately to the current situation. To modify the way of leading people and business as needed. People with fixed mindset are not that flexible, they are not going to be able to do it.

If you want to be an agile leader, you need to make a shift in your mindset. Move from fear to courage. From ended version to the iterative one, with a constant possibility to improve and adapt.

Why it is important? Because if you have a fixed mindset, your people will have it too. They won’t grow exponentially; they are not going to be high-performing teams with an ability to achieve anything they want. They’ll stay in their comfort, safe space where it’s cozy and warm. But there is no chance to thrive in the comfort zone.

2. Look for opportunities to learn all the time

Once the right mindset it there, the next steps on the journey are possible to implement.

Leading with agility requires learning all the time: trying to find the best options, to improve the ways the team works, operates, solve problems or makes decisions. For a leader that works with people in that way, it’s crucial to seek for opportunities to grow every day. As mentioned in one of the previous articles: “If you didn’t fail today, it means that you haven’t pushed yourself hard enough. Be better tomorrow”.

If you make a mistake, ask yourself: “What have I done well? What could I do better next time?”.

Being an agile leader means using the right tools. Use retrospective with yourself on a daily/weekly/monthly basis. Invest 3 minutes of your time each day to see what went really great, and what could have been better. It’s not a lot of time: every person can manage to do it. The key here is to prioritize it, to know what kind of advantage it brings to your table.

That’s how we learn: remember 70/20/10 rule. 70% of the learning comes from day-to-day tasks, experiences, projects and many different situations we face. 20% is mentoring, feedback, observing others. And 10% is formal (or less formal) education, workshops, studies etc.

Use your 70% daily, the best way you can possibly do it. Be mindful about what you do with your time, how you talk to your people, how you solve problems or create space of others to solve it by themselves. How you pass the responsibility to others, how you strengthen your team to be in charge of what they do. How you delegate tasks 100%, without being a nano manager, but with a trust in employees: that they’ll do their best to cover it, in the best quality they can.

Talk to other people that you find experts in your field. Share knowledge, ways of working or experience you gathered all along the way, be curious about their experiences and learnings too. Follow them on social media, read or listen to the books, get inspired, try what they’ve done to see if it can work in some way in your case. Life the life-long learning value: this is the key to lead with agility.

3. Be adaptive, react and let people do the same

Agility means adaptability. Reacting to changes, making the best of them. Agile leader is a person that believes in chances that are coming with the variety of options this world has. It means that there is always something that can be done better, smarter, in a different, more optimal way. Change isn’t a threat: it’s another option to be innovative, to make something that no one ever thought about.

This is also a part of a growth mindset. Being flexible, trying different approaches, choosing the best one that fits to the certain scenario.

When the company that you work in implements a new piece of software, you can see how it can simplify and edit daily work of yours and your team.

When your boss tells you to look around for new career opportunities, since the org structure is going to change soon, you take this chance to move yourself forward, maybe in a different, more developmental direction.

Of course, you can do quite the opposite: you can flight, fight or freeze and wait for the better times. But it’s not going to be agile leadership behavior.

Agile leader goes with the first scenario. And what’s even more important, she/he lets the team do the same things. To make mistakes, to learn from them. Try different options, approaches and pick the best one. But also it might appear that in 6 months, the solution that we chose today is not going to be the best one anymore. And it’s fine to change it again for something that can work better. To not fix yourself on one solution, when there is an infinity of them in the world. It’s so important to give people freedom, autonomy to make their own choices, but at the same time they take the full responsibility for the consequences (good or bad).

It’s hard. It can be difficult every single time you want to go to your old habits and control everything, ask never-ending questions about statuses of work or go with your own solutions (because they are the best ones, right?). But agile leadership is all about trust, creating high-performing teams that can work and flourish on their own. And if you read this article, I’m guessing that you want to be that person: so, you need to make an uncomfortable action and go all in with new set of behaviors and decisions.

Ask good questions. Agile leader is not assuming, doesn’t play guesses game. That way people will go with you on this journey, changing the way you operate as a team, that you build your relations among yourselves (and with other teams as well). They are going to be extraordinary, starting with their ways of thinking, ending with their decision-making processes. At work and in private life.

Because this is a holistic approach that successful people use. Do you want to be that person?



5 1 vote
Article Rating
Notify of
0 komentarzy
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Czytaj także

Transactional Analysis

Process Communication Model (PCM): Persister

Do you know at least one person that always has an opinion on a given subject? That has a strong set of values and that is the base of most of the decisions that they make? The person that is trustworthy: when they say that something is going to be done, it will, 100%? That’s Persister. First out of six personality types in Process Communication Model (PCM), the concept created by Taibi Kahleb. You can read shortly about the concept HERE, to have a basic structure around what PCM is really about. Today, I would love for us to have a description of who the Persister is, how we recognize this type is in the other person’s Base. Meaning that it is their first floor of personality structure, where they have most of the resources, competencies, and skills. The Base also stands for what is the most natural way of communication for the other person and through what kind of lenses they observe the world. So today we are going to discover who the Persister is, how to navigate when this person is in front of us and what to do to communicate effectively. How do we recognize Persister? Persister is a person who evaluates the world around them by comparing it to their values and beliefs. Their perception is opinions, and a lot of situations with Persisters relate to comparing one thing to another. How they feel, how they think and how they operate daily against the law, rules, policies, ways of working. While being around people, they’re loyal, and they value trust. They always keep promises: for a Persister it is impossible to even think about not keeping the word. If they say they do something, they are going to do it, no matter what. So, we don’t need to ask them several times a question like: “Are you going to go to do it? What is the progress of it?” because they’ll always do it (in fact, that kind of questions drive Persister crazy). How to recognize this person if that we don’t have their personality structure yet? You can listen to the words they need. For Persister it will be: “I believe…”, “in my opinion…”, “we should do something” or …shouldn’t do something”, “I trust…”, “the important thing for me is…”, “the crucial thing is…”. They say those words because they see the world through the lenses of opinions and values: that’s how Persister is the most visible. Of course, we are talking about being in OK-OK zone. It’s about having an opinion, but also always having a good intention. It’s not about pushing the opinion no matter what or aiming to hurt others. They have an opinion on every single subject and even if they don’t (i.e., they’re not interested in something), they have an opinion on it. Like: “Ok, so I’m not into politics because it really doesn’t interest me: I don’t want to waste my time on that subject”. Based on that example, we can see that there is always an opinion, even if at the first sight there’s none. What is also important that Persister doesn’t have any problem with saying those opinions out loud. And it’s not about being rude: it’s about being persistent, having a voice that matters (in professional and/or private life). Of course, HOW the opinion is communicated is important (it needs to be said from the OK-OK perspective). If it’s not – it’s another part of the story. What do Persister need in communication? I’m trustworthy = I’m valuable as a person When do we know that Persister is in distress? What does to be in distress mean? Being a distress means that we don’t have our motivational needs covered and we go into a sequence that is aligned with certain PCM type. So, if you have a Persister on the other side of the communication process and their needs are frustrated, they go into distress, you will see 3 steps of the sequence. Being in distress means that we don’t think clearly. When it happens, we don’t have access to our skillset, abilities to deal with different (especially stressful and difficult) situations, we can’t act accordingly (even if we rationally know how to do it). That’s why it’s so important firstly to come back to OK-OK, to our Base, and then – once we are there, go and deal with the situation. That kind of approach is always going to work, regardless of the PCM type. It’s worth to remember the sequence, since it is repetitive. By training ourselves in recognizing patterns we train our muscle of reacting accordingly, without going into distress ourselves. The mask invites the mask: meaning that behavior under distress will have influence on us, and even if we are in OK-OK zone, we can go into the dark side. Being aware of what’s happening gives us tools to protect ourselves and support others in getting into better place. The bottom line Persister is a great person to cooperate with. When they say that they’ll do something, we can be sure that will happen, no matter what. We don’t even need to doublecheck: for Persisters it’s impossible to not deliver the things that we agreed on, it’s in their DNA to do it. Their strong principles, values, and a high-level need to be trustworthy make them great partners in crime. Of course, while being in distress, they lose access to those resources and go into not so shiny place. It requires more awareness, being mindful what happens with us (if we are Persisters in Base), and other people (when Persister is on the other side of communication process).    So, I invite us all to observe those behaviors described in the article starting today. It can help us more than we think, regardless of the type of relation, context, or situation that we are in. It’s always worth to develop in this area. PS. As a first exercise after reading this article,

Czytaj dalej

Team Conflict: Is It Always a Bad Thing?

When we hear “conflict”, we think “trouble”. When we hear “conflict”, we think “dysfunctional team”, where communication doesn’t work, and people have personal issues. Or when we hear “conflict”, we think that leader doesn’t know how to lead his/her team successfully. Is that really true? Why are we so scared of a conflict? What is the worst thing that can happen when there is a conflict in the team? What kind of experiences we have with the conflict that make us think and behave in a certain way when one appears? Why do we avoid conflict? The real question should be: why do we avoid doing things in overall? In the area of conflicts, it’s extremely visible: we avoid it, because we burned ourselves once or twice. Based on that we make this strategy to not get involved in any kind of “risky” situation: so, we sit quiet and just focus on living through another day. Is it really the best option we can get? When a lack of conflict is dysfunctional, not the other way around? One of the biggest experts of team development and leadership, Patrick Lencioni, years ago wrote a book “5 Disfunctions of a Team”. It is a really short story (doesn’t even look like a personal/professional development book), yet it’s very powerful. And there is one part that stopped me when I first read it: Lencioni says that one of the dysfunctions of a team is a fear of conflict. What? (On the chart on the left-hand side there are definitions of all disfunctions and on the right-hand side there are solutions, that answer the questions: what is the best thing we can do here for our teams?) If we stick to our old believe that a conflict is something negative and destructive – that it ruins the trust and good atmosphere in the team, how is it possible that it’s actually the other way around? When we avoid conflict, not speaking up and be open about what do we really think, feel, or observe in the workplace, there is a huge risk of not being as effective and efficient as possible. It’s also short sided: if we are not sharing it now, it’s going to backfire in the future. So, at the end of the day, it will bring worse result than we imagine now. What’s even worse, people probably will talk behind other colleagues’ or leader’s backs, and not saying anything out loud. We can imagine that it will bring even worse outcomes, like really ruining the atmosphere, creating space for psychological games and in a consequence: lack of trust. The fear of conflict can be one of the biggest barriers that will stop people from growth, thrive and being the best versions of themselves in a workplace. What can we do to change this mindset? How can we use conflict that nourishes our team? The key thing to understand is that a certain kind conflict is something that we can use. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t, it really depends on what we are dealing with. There are 2 categories of conflicts, I call them functional and dysfunctional. What can we do with the dysfunctional conflicts? First and foremost: we need to map and name correctly which conflict is the real one in the situation we are dealing with. Without that, even the most beautiful strategy is not going to work, because we are going to answer to the wrong need. We’ll get frustrated and use all our energy badly. Focus on investigating will bring the best results, since then the solutions will be to the point: it’s more than certain that it’s worth investing time in this process. The bottom line The conflict is a huge, hairy, and scary thing that we often have very strong convictions about. We avoid it, by staying low, don’t speak up to not get into any confrontation. We do it because we don’t want to get hurt, expose ourselves to bad emotions, stress or feeling that we do not belong. Perfectly natural, there is nothing to be ashamed of. When we make a mindset shift: from fixed (focused on avoiding conflict) to a growth one, where we take into consideration that the conflict can be good for us, nourishing and interesting, we can gain more than we think. With remembering about having a good intention, being in OK-OK zone and with a goal of creating something extraordinary as a consequence of a passionate discussion, we can achieve the outcome that won’t be possible to achieve on our own. It puts old, good conflict in a completely new light. I believe it’s worth trying if it fits.

Czytaj dalej

How To Teach Others Effectively?

Did you ever have a situation when you wanted to teach a person something? You explained everything, you put a lot of time and effort in it, and at the end of the day the person never learned anything? Or you gave somebody feedback because they didn’t do something correctly. And after the conversation it seemed that everything was okay, but after a couple of weeks or months the same mistake was done by the same person? Did you start getting angry, feeling disappointed or guilty: is it you or is it all about them? Were you persistent, sit with the person and explain the same thing 10 times? Or have you just decided to not bother anymore: since apparently this person doesn’t understand what you are saying? How many cases ends like a failure when we think about teaching others effectively? 20%? 50%? More than that? And how many of them don’t say that they don’t understand because they don’t want to look or sound stupid? What can we do to teach others better, so they can grow thanks to our knowledge and experience? And both sides don’t have the impression that they’ve wasted time on the doubtful effect? Why doesn’t learning process work so often? We can have the best intentions to teach others. In fact, most of the time we have those: we want people to be better in what they do, we share our knowledge, experience and what we’ve learned so far in a certain topic. Everything seems good in our head. The readiness to teach and an honest intention to do it is there. Let’s say we are a buddy to the new employee. We want to onboard this person, take care of them, pass all information about how this organization works. To prepare a new joiner to understand the new environment, how everything gets done, so they don’t waste time and get stressed or frustrated of running around in circles, looking for the right person to answer their questions. We have a plan, we start the process. We pass our knowledge, we teach the other person how to cover the goals we have as a team as well as possible. We check by asking: “do you have any questions?” or “is everything clear for you?”. And what is the answer on those two questions most of the time? 90% people goes with “no, all good, no questions”, “yes, all clear”. Is it your experience too? And it’s clear until it isn’t. We explained everything, checked with new employee and this is it: they start to work on their own. And there is one mistake. And then another one. We give feedback, all is clear again, they go and do the same mistake again. When we ask what they need to do it to have the result that we aim for, they say “nothing, all good”. Sounds familiar? Sometimes we teach, then we see that the work is not done with a result that we did contract for, we give feedback with an intention so next time it’s better. And it’s not better at all: sometimes it’s the same, or even worse. What is happening in between of this process, so the results are often so disappointing (for both sides)? Who we need to be to teach others well? There is a certain set of skills that people who want to be efficient and effective in how they teach others should have. Based on my teaching (others) and learning (from others) perspective, I believe that those are a golden list of competencies that make a person amazing guide to transform work and life of people that are around them. And we do know that you don’t need to be a school or academic teacher to use them. We share knowledge in so many ways every day: we teach our colleagues at work, our kids at home, we share some tips and tricks with our friends or family members, we pass value to the members of our community. What do we need to do it in the best possible way? The bottom line When we teach others, we are there for them. It can be super hard to stop the need to show that we the smartest persons in the room, but we must do it to be effective at teaching others. Remembering that the process where we teach something is for our audience (even if it is a one person), makes us take a step or two back from time to time and reflect on the way we do it. Is it for me, or for them? Where is my focus: on the process, or on the person? Do I care more about ticking all the boxes that I passed everything I had on the agenda, or I care about the change that I make in this person’s brain and heart? These are the questions that I invite all of us to ask ourselves every time we teach something. It will make everything we do better, more effective and efficient, and: we will be satisfied with the job well done.   

Czytaj dalej
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x