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  • Writer's pictureShaheer Kazmi


Leadership in an Agile environment

In my opinion, leadership is about inspiring teams and mentoring individuals. Leadership style not only informs stakeholders both inside and outside the company about the workplace culture and environment, but also has a trickle down effect in how these individuals and teams model their own behavior and dynamics. Often, this can have a direct correlation in their own growth, and well led empowered team members can make the difference in the overall trajectory of a team or product.

Considerable effort has to be made to develop, align and manage the culture in light of the ongoing internal and external changes. Not only does a leader need to instill a sense of collective ownership for motivation (of the departments' missions and organizational goals), but also a sense of security ("I have your back") to enable innovation.

Over the years, I have found a number of habits, decisions and practices that are crucial for leadership.


First, leaders should periodically review the department's vision and create alignment with the operational strategy. This allows them to provision resources required to enable a favorable environment for the team to operate in. This helps align incentives for the team and the goals which it needs to achieve.


Second, leaders should work towards removing obstacles that hinder innovation, create frustration or divert focus. Removing strategic and operational roadblocks is a vital responsibility of leaders and hence should empower teams to take decisive actions. This at times requires mentorship (one on one) and at other times requires decisive action (saying no to one's own managers, etc).


Third, as leaders, we should make all efforts to enable a team to self-govern and learn from taking risks. However, this also means that the project’s risks were already evaluated and performance boundaries determined to prevent failures. Our goal is to encourage individual and team development in a safe environment. This means that we are there to provide a hand when required. This however does not mean that we spoon feed solutions to them and resolve problems for them. Nor does this mean allowing catastrophic failure.

People & Practices and Policies & Processes

Finally, we should focus on building policies which are implemented using different processes. However these policies should not substitute practices over individuals and teams. Conducive environment also means that the processes can change over time. Empowering leadership should instill a culture of change and provide a forum of open communication in which discussions and decisions can take place, and accept change that can come from within the team, even if they do not necessarily agree with it.

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