Leadership in Agile Work Environments

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Employees call for visible and engaging leaders – especially when work “turns agile”

Employees everywhere complain about invisible and un-engaging leaders. This problem will increase with the changes we are currently undergoing when it comes to how work is organized.

The solution lies in shifting focus from competencies and personalities to leadership deliverables.


In Earlier Times a Look at the Organization Chart would Tell People’s Responsibilities and Their Leaders

In the past, work revolved around the organizational unit that a person was hired into. And it was the manager’s responsibility to get the work in his/her unit done. In other words, both employee and leadership responsibility “had a home”. Certain responsibilities were assigned to specific people in the organization. These assignments would be lasting over a longer period and it would largely appear from the organization chart what they were. And everybody knew who their direct superior was.

In the Agile Workplace Work Revolves Around Products or Projects

In the agile work environment, the hub that work revolves around is a product or a project, and the responsibility to get work done is placed with teams that are put together for a short period. The duration of such a team’s existence may be as short as down to 3-4 weeks. At times teams have appointed team leaders or project leaders. At other times they don’t have an assigned leader, but maybe an assigned coach will be responsible for leadership and guidance.

Direct Day-to-Day Leadership is Still Required – and it May be Assigned Overnight

The pressure on a team to rapidly reach efficiency and a specific result, requires clear and consistent leadership much more than a team under less pressure would.This makes it particularly important, that the organization has a way to quickly bring someone up to speed with the leadership deliverables.

Direct Leadership® Outlines a Clear and Easy-to-Understand, Generic set of Leadership Deliverables.

Leadership in the agile environment is a matter of producing the leadership deliverables on a day-to-day/here-and-now basis. We define leadership deliverables as the content of a leader’s interaction with employees whenever a leadership opportunity occurs. To guide that behavior and ensure that the leader covers the entire ground of his/her responsibility we have identified 7 leadership roles and 4 leadership styles.

When mastering these, a person will know how to support a team by:  

  • maintaining strategic focus
  • keeping an eye on the workflow and how work is organized
  • facilitating knowledge sharing
  • ensuring a positive collaborative work atmosphere among team members
  • facilitating decisions
  • noting and intervening if someone either excels or struggles with what is required during the life cycle of the task force
  • encouraging everybody to deliver as promised.


The Benefit of Using Direct Leadership® in the Agile Environment

Direct Leadership® is particularly suited to agile environments for many reasons: 

  • Direct Leadership® teaches that the nature of everyday leadership is exactly that – catching the leadership opportunities, when they occur – and dealing with them
  • The essentials of Direct Leadership® may be learned with time investment of only 3 hours (the time it takes to go through a video-based online program including a set of training exercises). This means that the responsibility for carrying out leadership can quickly migrate to where it is called for. 
  • After completion of the team’s time together, the focus on leadership deliverables makes it easy to collect feedback on the leader’s performance, so that this may be used in future challenges or for additional leadership training. 

Do you want to master the leadership deliverables? Learn it online in a few hours with Direct Leadership® - The Essential Leadership Deliverables.

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Hanne Roulund

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