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The agile leader in any work environment

  • Innovation and Management
  • Methodologies

More than a title or a role, leadership is a matter of attitude.

More than a title or a role, leadership is a matter of attitude.

Understanding self-management and team empowerment as two of the essences of agile project development, the skills and knowledge of the disciplines that involve leadership will always help you, whether you are a developer or a manager.

Leadership is an association between posture and preparation, regardless of hierarchy. It’s up to us to be aware of the skills and practices necessary to build a good trajectory as leaders. After all, in everyday work, we are always leaders of something at some point: our tasks, time, project, or team.

The People Factor

Leadership adds the “people” layer to the process over purely technical activities, and this factor changes the game completely.

Working with people is more complex and involves another class of skills, far more intricate than sitting in front of the computer and operating tasks.

From this great universe of learning, I highlight in this text three fundamental behaviors that ignite leadership posture within our work environment:

  • Active listening,
  • Generalist approach,
  • Facilitation mindset.

Let’s step a bit more into each of them:

Active listening

A good leader is, foremost, a good listener. Knowing how to listen to others is a well-known and little-practiced virtue, and there is a discipline that addresses precisely that: active listening. 

Listening wisely is about paying attention to what you hear. It is about putting your energy into that dialog and listening to understand, not arguing or replicating.

In most situations, we operate in a judgmental mode. As we listen to someone, we formulate hypotheses inside our heads to start our argument without even thinking about what we are hearing.

This process is a trap: when we start our early judgment process, we are not necessarily attentive to the speech of the other, which leads to poor understanding and development of the dialog.

Instead, listen without judging. Try to understand the motivations that led that person to say what they said at that particular moment. By adding this layer of understanding without prejudgment, we favor productive communication and enrich our background.

Active listening is about giving others the time they need to explore their thoughts and feelings, listening carefully to what is being said, and only then starting our argument strictly based on what we hear.

Generalist approach

You know a lot of things, but you don’t know everything.

Leaders are essentially generalists. Regardless of the specialties they master, they understand the process as a whole, in medium depth.

There is no way to know everything about everything. A leader surrounds himself with people who know a lot about certain subjects, while he sees the big picture. It is the balance between knowing enough to understand the whole without being limited to details and specifics.

And there’s no shame in not knowing; shame is not asking. That’s why good leaders ask for help whenever they need it. The generalist view invites us always to be curious and learn and understand more.

Learning to listen attentively and cultivating a generalist attitude prepares us to exercise the third fundamental virtue of a good leader: