Skip to content

The Nine Dimensions of Agile Leadership (revisited and improved)

Following an earlier post on this topic and based on the increasing popularity of Agile Leadership, I have revisited my previous model with the experience we are gaining with the transitioning a large Canadian financial institution. Although the transition is still underway, our increasing experience is allowing us to improve the model.

The fundamental objective of this model remains to increase return on investment (ROI) and employee satisfaction / motivation within the project teams while applying the 4 Agile values and 12 underlying principles.


LEADERSHIP

Leadership is stated as the “process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task” – Wikipedia.

Objectives setting and performance management

Goal setting involves establishing specific, measurable and time-targeted objectives - Wikipedia.

Performance management includes activities to ensure that goals are consistently being met in an effective and efficient manner - Wikipedia.

This dimension of the model focuses on:

  • Using a clearly defined vision, identifying and communicating clear objectives so that people know what to do;
  • Aligning the goals of the team members amongst themselves and with the focus on delivering business value to the organization;
  • Providing frequent feedback to employees so they can adapt their performance accordingly;
  • Evaluating the performance level of the project team, in addition to individual performance.

Management and leadership style

Management in all business areas and organizational activities are the acts of getting people together to accomplish desired goals and objectives - Wikipedia.

Leadership style refers to a leader’s behaviour. It is the result of the philosophy, personality and experience of the leader - Wikipedia.

This dimension of the model focuses on:

  • Switching from a traditional “command and control” to a “servant leadership” style;
  • Abandoning an autocratic and prescriptive style to make room for autonomy and emergence;
  • Allowing space for teams to become autonomous;
  • Adopting a situational leadership style based on the maturity level of the team;
  • Evaluating the end results rather than the means used to implement the plan;
  • Assisting the team in addressing its needs;
  • Providing the necessary support to develop individuals;
  • Giving people the right to make mistakes;
  • Facilitating collaboration.

ENVIRONMENT

Surroundings are the area around a given physical or geographical point or place - Wikipedia.

Work environment and organizational culture

Organizational culture is an idea in the field of Organizational studies and management which describes the psychology, attitudes, experiences, beliefs and values (personal and cultural values) of an organization - Wikipedia.

This dimension of the model focuses on:

  • Establishing a favorable work environment to support the success of an Agile project;
  • Providing open and collaborative spaces;
  • Providing simple tools such as whiteboards;
  • Reserving small enclosed meeting rooms;
  • Using furniture that can easily be moved;
  • Providing hardware and software that reduces the costs and initial delays to start-up projects.

PROJECT TEAM

A project team is a team whose members usually belong to different groups, functions and are assigned to activities for the same project - Wikipedia.

Autonomy and accountability

Autonomy is a concept found in moral, political, and bioethical philosophy. Within these contexts, it refers to the capacity of a rational individual to make an informed, un-coerced decision - Wikipedia.

Accountability is a concept in ethics and governance with several meanings. It is often used synonymously with such concepts as responsibility,answerability, blameworthiness, liability, and other terms associated with the expectation of account-giving - Wikipedia.

This dimension of the model focuses on:

  • Giving authority to the team to allow it to do its job properly;
  • Transferring the authority and responsibility to the team:
    • The way to do things and organize work (the HOW?)
    • On the allocation of tasks and ideally on the composition of the team (the WHO?)
    • On the estimation of effort required to complete tasks (the HOW MUCH?)
    • It can even be the place (the WHERE?) and the work hours (the WHEN?)
  • Avoiding interference and micro-management;
  • Giving autonomy to individuals to make them accountable;
  • Creating teams of reasonable size to facilitate collaboration and communication;
  • Letting people who are closest to the action make the final decisions;
  • Providing the necessary support when the team requests it.

Collaboration and teamwork

Collaboration is a recursive process where two or more people or organizations work together in an intersection of common goals - Wikipedia.

Teamwork is work performed by a team - Wikipedia.

This dimension of the model focuses on:

  • Promoting collaboration and teamwork;
  • Maintaining a climate of trust and respect within the team;
  • Developing the concept of compromise;
  • Taking a position of cooperation and negotiation rather than honoring contracts;
  • Encouraging discussion and debate of ideas in order to bring out the best decisions.

Communication and knowledge sharing

Communication is a process of transferring information from one entity to another - Wikipedia.

Knowledge sharing is an activity through which knowledge (i.e. information, skills, or expertise) is exchanged among people, friends, or members of a family, a community or an organization - Wikipedia.

This dimension of the model focuses on:

  • Encouraging the use of face-to-face communication;
  • Providing opportunities for people to share information and knowledge;
  • Establishing communities of practice to promote the exchange of knowledge;
  • Making relevant information visible to all participants.

Skills and Professional Development

A skill is the learned capacity to carry out pre-determined results often with the minimum outlay of time, energy, or both - Wikipedia.

Professional development refers to skills and knowledge attained for both personal development and career advancement - Wikipedia.

This dimension of the model focuses on:

  • Ensuring that participants have the skills required to successfully execute their tasks;
  • Promoting training and development when the skills are not adequate.

Continuous improvement and organizational learning

Continuous Improvement Process is an ongoing effort to improve products, services or processes. These efforts can seek “incremental” improvement over time or “breakthrough” improvement all at once - Wikipedia.

Organizational learning is an area of knowledge within organizational theory that studies models and theories about the way an organization learns and adapts - Wikipedia.

This dimension of the model focuses on:

  • Allowing the team to question frequently its good (and bad) actions in order to improve;
  • Not systematically penalizing failures;
  • Addressing recurrent problems;
  • Documenting and make visible the organizational barriers;
  • Reviewing the best practices to adapt to changing realities.

Processes and Tools

Process or processing typically describes the act of taking something through an established and usually routine set of procedures to convert it from one form to another, as a manufacturing or administrative procedure, such as processing milk into cheese, or processing paperwork to grant a mortgage loan, or converting computer data from one form to another - Wikipedia.

A tool is a device that is necessary to, or expedites, a task - Wikipedia.

This dimension of the model focuses on:

  • Letting the best processes and tools emerging from the team members;
  • Allowing the team to choose its tools and adapting its processes to maximize performance;
  • Disseminating best practices to other groups;
  • Ensuring that the team has set its own rules of operation.

I am building and using this framework to help dissect the key components of Agile Leadership in order to help explain it to people managers and team members. Based on your experience, are there any dimensions missing?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: