Part 2 of the Agile Leader Role in an Agile Transformation

In the first section of this article, we discussed the four main areas of concentration for agile leaders and looked at the notion of agile transformation. The traits that agile leaders most need to possess will be discussed in part 2 of this essay. The painful fact that leaders frequently act as a barrier to organizational agility is covered in our last discussion. Team-based agility is fairly simple, and most teams rapidly adopt it because it makes sense and increases productivity. Due to their expertise, leaders may act in ways that are really inimical to agility.

What traits are essential for agile leaders?

Leaders therefore require a clear why in addition to persistence and courage. What additional qualities do they require, though? The following are a few of the most important leadership qualities that spring to me when I think about the excellent Agile leaders I know.

  • Mindset of Growth
  • Self-Awareness
  • Ownership
  • Humility
  • Listening Skills
  • Courage and Taking Risks
  • Trust
  • Ability to See and Optimize the Big Picture
  • Ability to Motivate Others

In the sections that follow, we will go through each of these in further detail.

Mindset of Growth

In her 1995 book, Mindset, Carol Dweck discussed the development and fixed mindsets. In summary, the fixed mindset believes that intellect is fixed and avoids making errors or doing activities that might lead to learning. The development mentality believes that everything can be learnt and is unafraid of making errors or displaying their inexperience.

Leaders that have a growth attitude are more likely to experiment. They want to test, learn, and iterate rapidly. They foster an environment in which it is OK to fail.


Leaders must be conscious of their own shortcomings. This implies they are conscious of their own talents and flaws as well as their own emotional condition. Their emotions may either encourage or demoralize the persons and teams they lead.


Great leaders accept personal accountability for the consequences and results they produce. When things don’t go their way, they don’t blame others; instead, they think on it, learn from their mistakes, and try again. They consider themselves as the creators of their experiences and consequences. Likewise, they avoid criticising the individuals and teams they support.

Jocko Willink, a former Navy Seal, just published a book titled Extreme Ownership. Willink writes on leadership and victory as a Navy Seal squad. He invented the phrase « extreme ownership » to describe the notion of assuming personal accountability for every outcome for the teams he managed.

He denied that extraneous forces or persons were to blame for what occurred to his squad. Rather of blaming, he believes that exceptional leaders accept responsibility for their actions and learn from them.

When leaders assume this kind of responsibility, they demonstrate that it is acceptable to make errors and fail on occasion. Teams that fail and recover are more powerful than teams that do not fail and recover. Leaders will only be able to unleash their employees’ invention and creativity if they make it safe to explore.


Great leaders have a low ego, are modest, and are receptive to feedback. They accept criticism and, rather than defending, show inquiry and openness. They can make self-deprecating jokes.

Listening Skills

Agile leaders are good listeners who care about others. They do not cut people off or interrupt them. They make people feel appreciated. They demonstrate the ability to empathize and put themselves in the shoes of others. They demonstrate a real concern for others.

Courage and Taking Risks

Leaders must be brave in the face of danger. As previously said, an Agile Transformation is a significant program of change, which may be dangerous. Additionally, for agile teams to flourish, leaders must foster a climate in which it is acceptable to fail and learn. This might be harmful in a company that has little tolerance for failure. (This also implies that the organization has a low tolerance for learning).


The finest Agile leaders inspire and then trust the people they lead. This trait is directly related to one of my favorite agile values:

“Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and the support they need, and trust them to get the job done”

Great leaders also work together across the team and foster trust, reducing or eliminating silos and turf disputes. They promote and reward collaboration rather than sowing discord or developing a « us versus them » mentality.

Ability to See and Optimize the Big Picture

Avoiding suboptimization is an important lean principle. Great Agile leaders can see the big picture and focus on maximizing the total rather than just one tiny portion.

Ability to Motivate Others

A fast internet search will reveal how common it is to attempt to encourage others. Frederic Hertzberg wrote a famous HBR piece on this topic called, One More Time: How Do You Motivate Employees?

Motivating is the incorrect technique. Today’s knowledge workers are organically driven rather than extrinsically motivated. Rather of attempting to encourage people, we should create an environment in which they may accomplish their best job. Then, particularly when it comes to change, leaders focus on encouraging others.

Leaders may be the greatest impediment to Agile Transformation

It may surprise you that Managers and Leaders are sometimes the greatest hurdle to Transformation. It’s an intriguing paradox: managers and leaders claim to want to be more Agile, but they are frequently the ones that stymie adoption or change. It’s similar to me claiming I want 6 pack abs but don’t want to workout or eat good foods. My words do not correspond to my deeds.

So, why do I believe that managers are stifling Agile? For starters, it’s what I’ve witnessed at one company after another. Managers and leaders have direct or indirect control over what is happening.

Second, polls indicate this. A question concerning impediments to greater Agile adoption is included in the VersionOne Annual State of Agile Report. Respondents continue to blame leadership for impeding agile adoption.

A True Account of Agile Transformation

I recently met with several agile transformation advocates at a customer who sought for my assistance. They were attempting to promote agility in their company by assisting their teams in improving and maturing their practices. Unfortunately, they discovered that their squads had reached a dead end and were no longer moving forward.

The executive management team served as that immovable object. Although the management team claimed to seek the benefits of Agile, they frequently acted in manners that undermined the agile teams. The leadership team appears to be of the opinion that

“we’ll tolerate Agile as long as everyone meets the deadlines and gets all the work done”

What do you think—effective or agile? Is it familiar to you, more importantly?

The winners team requested my assistance so that they could present a case that was supported by facts and statistics. They desired a shift in behavior from the senior leadership team that would make them more agile-friendly; they wanted them to stop doing some things and start doing others.

A leadership « stop doing » and « start doing » list

Here is a list of things they wanted the leadership to start doing, as well as a list of things they wanted them to quit doing.

HAZEL – Please provide the following information in the table above, including it for previously published articles on our website as well.

Stop pretending to be an expert on Agile when you lack any formal education or experience.


Leaders: too busy for Transformation?

I believe the leaders in the preceding scenario were just too preoccupied to pay attention to transformation. The majority of executives face pressure to accomplish more with less resources and to deliver results quickly. It takes time and money to change to an agile culture. The majority of CEOs lack the free time necessary to see agile teams grow or discover the best ways to assist one.

Or do leaders simply not comprehend Transformation?

Most leaders, in my opinion, don’t fully comprehend transition. Few business executives schedule time to take part in agile training. Most people assume they already know all there is to know about agile, which is a bummer because they actually require agile training. They promote Agile and pay lip service to it, but they don’t really back it up. Neither do they practice it.agile leaders Stop Doing And Start Doing List

How quickly the teams will advance is decided by these leaders. Only so far will the teams be able to develop before they reach a brick wall.

In my most recent Certified Agile Leader Course (which I strongly recommend, by the way), Agile Transformation specialist Michael Sahota discussed it since it is a pattern that is easily identifiable. As he stated:

“The Consciousness of the Leader is the Limit (for Agile)”

Michael was most likely influenced by what Frederic Laloux said in Re-Inventing Organizations:

The general rule seems to be that the level of consciousness of an organization cannot exceed the level of consciousness of its leader.”

The following two major implications follow from the concept that the leader of an organization is the limit to development:

  • There is not much that employees on the lower levels of the business can do to make agile stick or for an effective Agile Transformation if the leadership team is not on board.
  • The leadership team must comprehend and support the change if you want to implement a significant change in your firm, such as Agile Transformation.

Agile Transformation leaders must figuratively lead the change. They accomplish this by making investments in their own Agile learning and development.

Agile Transformation Leaders’ Upcoming Tasks

You have the power to increase team productivity, company agility, and flexibility if you’re a leader. Despite the fact that we are aware that implementing Agile is not always simple or pleasant, you have the ability to make Agile a success. Leading the change and starting with your personal transformation is the only way to get out.

Agile Transformation leaders must figuratively lead the way for change. By putting money into their own Agile learning and development, they do this.

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