Agile or self-organized teams need leadership. Not any kind of management, but true leadership.
They are called „agile teams“ because they can flexibly adapt their internal processes to their dynamic environment and thereby meet high complex requirements. This is not possible with rigid hierarchical processes. A painful but vivid example of inflexible processes is the construction of Berlin Airport. It was planned and structured for years – and when suddenly unexpected difficulties arose, the whole process was over. Agile teams figure these „unexpected difficulties“ in from the start. Dealing with complex (not complicated!) facts requires that. And that’s why agile teams are an excellent answer to complex challenges in the dynamic new world of work .
„Lead from the back and let others think they are in front“
Leading agile teams requires different skills than management in classic hierarchies. To me, Nelson Mandela is an inspirational personality for true leadership; he guided people with conviction and passion. His quote „Lead from the back and let others think they are in front“ nicely sums up what agile leadership should entail. It’s about finding a balance between the team’s self-organization and a guiding direction:
- clear goals and a strong vision: In agile teams, the primary role of leaders is to ensure that the team knows the direction. It also means that goals are meaningful, realistic and motivating, to put it simply, that they are SMART and that they are in line with corporate goals.
- backing: Agile teams need leaders who stand behind the team and every single employee. In difficult situations, they take on the role of a coach and are available as sparring partners.
- Moderation: Leadership in the agile environment is not directive, but moderating. In Scrum you will find this role, for example, in the „Scrum Master“; holocracy has the „lead link“, etc. Moderation skills are crucial to delivering results-oriented discussions, especially when collective decisions are to be made in the end, or discussions when different perspectives need to be brought together.
KAOS Coaching & Development supports your executives with coaching or with special workshops to develop competences of agile leadership and to accompany their self-organized teams safely and competently.