I’ve often held the perspective that there is no real ‘L’eadership roles within agile teams. The entire notion of a self-directed team in some ways confuses the role that leadership plays within agile contexts.
One of the leadership dynamics, at least from my perspective, is at the agile or Scrum team level. I’ve always observed that leadership is one of the central ingredients to a successful agile adoption. In fact, the larger the scale, the more important it becomes.
That being said, the larger the scale, the more incumbent managers and leaders struggle to figure out the new role they need to play in the shift. And quite often the organization really doesn’t support them (coaching, training, funding) in this effort. It’s sort of left as an exercise for the student; which mostly fails.
Now that I think about it, a “rule” sounds a whole lot more formal than I intend it. Perhaps I should call it a guideline or a heuristic or a thinking tool?
Ah, I don’t know. Let’s get into it and make that determination afterwards.
It’s simple really. It revolves around telling your teams what to do. That is providing your directives, strong opinions, and guidance when you’re interacting with your fledgling agile teams.
The premise is that for every 100 opportunities that you are confronted with in your organization to provide prescriptive advice to your teams, you get no more than 5 times to actually tell your teams what to do.
Over the past few months I’ve been coaching my clients who are in the early stages of adopting agile approaches for software. Most of them are adopting Scrum, but a few are adopting Kanban.
Universally, one of their complaints is that their teams aren’t “stepping up” to the
- Passion & Energy
That is implied as part of the culture of self-directed, agile teams.
To say that they are disappointed is an understatement. And these comments are coming from all levels of the client leadership teams.
One of my favorite movies of all time is A Few Good Men with
Jack Nicholson and Tom Cruise. I can picture that highly charged confrontation
at the end clearly in my mind. You know the one.
Tom Cruise says—I want
And Jack Nicholson
leans forward, with that classic look, and says—
You Can’t Handle the
What a climax to the film. I get chills every time I watch
I’ve been thinking more and more in my coaching about why
leaders and managers often wait too long to ask for agile coaching help. I
think it’s a general phenomenon in agile (and non-Agile) teams and
organizations, but for the purposes of this article, I want to focus upward—on