Leadership comes with a great many responsibilities. Being a leader not only means that you guide the team under you but also lead by example. Leaders bind a team together and lead everyone together toward the end goal.
Their responsibilities extend from the glaringly obvious to the minuscule. As a leader, you ensure smooth communication across the team, maintain a harmonious environment, inculcate camaraderie, cover gaps, and implement changes to make improvements.
With the changing standards of work, the definition of leadership has also changed. Leaders now are required to be more flexible and accommodating yet strict enough to guide teams toward the right path.
Businesses have started adopting different working methodologies to optimize their employees’ performance and make the most of their skills. Agile methodology, for example, is a method employed to improve workflows and increase productivity.
Like any other team, Agile teams are also led by an Agile leader. An Agile leader has both the skills and expertise required to guide the team in the right direction and the ability to align the team’s goals with the organizational aims and objectives.
An Agile leader goes above and beyond to make sure their team produces good results. Although Agile leaders are already competent, there are a few tips that can help them hone their skills for the better.
In this article, we will be going through 10 of the best tips for the improvement of Agile leadership skills. With the implementation of these tips, they can overcome any obstacles that hinder their way and pave the way to success.
Tip # 1 – Learn and Lead
You must have heard the phrase “lead by example”, the same stands true for Agile leaders. While Agile leaders are skilled professionals with expertise in their field, there may be areas that can be improved or newer skills they can learn.
In such a case, instead of pushing your team to learn advanced skills, it would be better to first acquaint yourself with these skills.
In addition to learning up-and-coming things, leaders can also learn from their predecessors. Their seniors can not only guide them on how to lead a team successfully but may also offer useful tips and tricks to make Agile leadership less stressful and more fun.
Conclusively, leaders should be open to taking on new challenges, learning new things, and improving themselves for the betterment of their team and themselves.
Tip # 2 – Inculcate Visibility and Transparency
One of the reasons teams suffer from downfalls or failures is the lack of transparency and visibility in the work processes. By visibility, we mean clarity of objectives. Teams that are not clear on the organizational aims are more often than not aiming blindly.
It is the responsibility of an Agile leader to guide them and focus their attention on the right target.
Not only should they make sure that individual goals align with organizational goals but also make sure that all members of the team are on the same page, working towards the accomplishment of the same end goal.
Moving on to transparency. Transparency implies that employees be open and honest with the leader. In case employees encounter any difficulty or hurdle, they should immediately communicate the issue to their leader.
Concurrently, leaders should also encourage employees to provide honest feedback.
Their feedback will help leaders improve their performance and might also help the organization at large. Feedback is a way two-way street.
Just as leaders’ feedback encourages improvement, employees’ feedback is an opportunity to improve performance for betterment.
Tip # 3 – Empower Teams with Decision-Making Skills
Leaders lead by example but that does not mean they should take employees’ hands and help them overcome every obstacle they encounter. That is not leading but parenting.
It is an Agile leader’s job to empower his team with the necessary decision-making skills so that even in the absence of the leading figure, they can make their own decisions and continue the process effectively.
Since decision-making requires a certain level of expertise and skills, leaders should equip their team members with all the necessary abilities.
Agile leaders should guide the team and help them solve problems in such a way so that the next time they encounter a similar problem, they can find their way through without any difficulty.
Moreover, empowered teams can solve minute problems by themselves which gives more freedom to the leader. He can then invest his time and effort into optimizing work processes. It reduces dependency and is an effective way of helping teams grow and develop.
Tip # 4 – Be Flexible
Since Agile leaders are working with a team, they cannot be too strict or rigid. There has to be some level of flexibility and freedom so that employees can also exercise their will.
Too much rigidness and compulsions are a burden on employees and often take away their motivation. Not only does it reduce employee productivity but has a negative impact on the progress of the whole team.
Leaders’ flexibility, on the other hand, helps employees take control of their work. Leaders can then take a back seat and observe their progress, guide them on areas that need improvement, and help them whenever they need.
Leaders should be willing to accept suggestions and make changes to incorporate those suggestions into their leadership style. The more accommodating leaders are, the better their relationship with the team will be.
Also, it will help improve team members’ performance, ultimately adding to the efficacy of the team.
Tip # 5 – Do Not Micromanage Your Team
One of the reasons employees detest and sometimes hate their seniors is because they keep their eyes fixed on employees’ work, picking on every little mistake and chastising them over the minutest issue.
Micromanagement creates a gap between employees and their team leads, a gap that is hard to overcome.
Agile leaders should keep an eye on employees’ progress but not micromanage all of their activities. The monitoring should be for their benefit, not mindless nitpicking.
Your goal should be to help them improve their performance. Skillfully guide them on the mistakes they made or the issues they encounter. This way, they will approach you themselves whenever they encounter difficulty and hence bring transparency to the team.
Tip # 6 – Communicate with Team Members
Communication is the key to success and the same stands true in the case of Agile teams. To be able to lead team members in the right direction, you have to communicate with the members regularly.
As a leader, your job is not to order members around but to communicate the details with them and explain why the thing is important and how they should go about it.
Organize team meetings to discuss the team’s goals and objectives. Assign them their tasks and explain their roles and responsibilities so that they have clarity. Also, make sure they know that they can come to you to seek guidance whenever they need be.
Also, schedule one-on-one sessions so that members can openly discuss issues and you can guide them in the right direction. Listen to their opinions, answer their questions, help them solve problems, and be a mentor to that they can openly talk with.
Moreover, encourage employees to communicate with one another as well. Projects are not completed in isolation; they are always a team effort. As such, team communication is a vital part of the equation.
Teams with good communication, collaborate more efficiently and are, in general, more productive.
Tip # 7 – Learn from Your Mistakes
Just because you are a leader does not mean you have to be perfect in everything you do. In fact, you can encounter issues, make some errors in judgment, occasionally mess up a schedule or make a mistake.
This, however, does not mean you are incompetent, it means you are human. The right way to deal with mistakes is not to take stress but learn from the mistake and make changes to improve your performance for the future.
Every obstacle you encounter is an opportunity to learn something new. Take it as that and learn from it. Embrace your failures and make sure that you take them as lessons to improve your skills and performance.
Tip # 8 – Encourage Growth
As an Agile team leader, it is your responsibility to make sure teams are always learning something new and improving their performance. Stagnancy, on the other hand, will limit their growth.
Motivate team members to be experimental and try new things. With every failure they meet, they learn a new way of doing things differently. Repeated experimentation will add to their experience and make them more skilled in their work.
The more they know, the more they grow. Also, their growth will ultimately reflect in the performance of the whole team and will play a pivotal role in the team’s growth and development.
Tip # 9 – Take Advantage of Technology
Emerging technology is often seen as the root cause of distraction and failure. As an Agile leader, however, your job is to utilize this weapon for the betterment of your team.
Use the latest tools and techniques to optimize your team’s performance. Some of the tools and their functions are listed below:
- Jira, Trello, Asana, nTask, etc. – For project management
- Fleep, Slack, etc. – For team communication
- Evernote, etc. – For notetaking
- TimeDoctor, ResuceTime, etc. – For time management
- Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, etc. – For storage
These tools are just the tip of the iceberg, there are hundreds and thousands of other tools that are used by businesses all over the world to optimize their work processes.
Agile leaders can, in a similar way, use these tools to lessen the burden on their shoulders and automate work tasks.
Tip # 10 – Stay Up to Date with Latest Industry Trends
One of the responsibilities of an agile leader is that he should be well-versed in his area of expertise. This does not only mean knowledge of the preexisting but also familiarity with up-and-coming industry trends.
go the extra mile to learn everything about the emerging trends in the market. This information will not only add to your abilities but also help you guide your team better. The more knowledge you have, the better solutions you can come up with resolve issues.
Also, it will help you lead your team better. With the right information in hand, you can make the right decisions for the future of your team and carve your way to success.
An Agile leader should be someone willing to change for the better and is also willing to imbibe the same values in his team members. They should be skilled individuals who are not only well-versed in their field but also know how to guide a team from start to end.
A leader with the right kind of skills can take his team to achieve the heights of success. A good leader means better things for the team and great things for the organization.