These leaders possess strong interpersonal, relationship-building skills, which, in turn, help create trust and respect amongst disciplines. Not only are they masters in creating trusted client relationships but they also encourage positive development in technology team members through empowerment and mentorship. Instead of the old-style traditional management idea of leaders making all key decisions themselves, agile leaders seek opinions from team members and others on an issue, and try to incorporate those ideas. This enables the leader to have a much larger pool of knowledge for decision making while fostering respect for their authority by other folks.
This reminds me of a simple exercise we did in leadership training about the “Big Boss” making all the decisions. First, the leadership facilitator chose a member of the team to be the leader (Big Boss). The rest of the team would grab ahold of a rope and form a circle. Big Boss would then be blindfolded to represent the idea that you can’t see or know everything all the time. Then Big Boss was instructed to tell team members where to move to in order to form the rope into a square. The other team members were not allowed to speak.
Some sharp folks would remember where people were standing, order them to move in certain directions to form the corners of the square, and then have the other team members line up on these “corner” members. However, just after Big Boss was blindfolded, the leadership facilitator whispered to a few team members to move forward or back in the circle to stimulate the changes happening whenever a project is underway. In more than ten years I saw many strange shapes but never a square.
The next part of the exercise had the team again form a circle while holding a rope. Then, Big Boss was instructed to have the team form the rope in the shape of a triangle, but this time, team members were allowed to speak and help Big Boss when he asked for their input in forming a triangle. The results were always at least a decent triangle.
For agile leaders, collaboration is very important. Another skill you will see is their providing hands-on support to encourage team members to take the time to collaborate with each other and to feel like they can make and learn from their mistakes. This reinforces the concept of continuous improvement, not only in software development, but for the whole organization. Agile leaders realize that with a little encouragement anyone can be creative and innovative, which are qualities needed to tackle the complexities in this new age.
You will see these leaders as accountable for establishing and enforcing best practices and standards leading to better IT governance. IT governance is about making sure that resources are used the right way to create value while managing IT risks within the organization. Additionally, IT governance ensures that IT efforts are aligned with the organization’s vision and strategy or, to put it more simply, provides a common language of facts and rules by which the organizationis managed and governed.