Leading with Kindness: Nice to Have or Necessity?

In an Agile environment, you don’t have to be nice. But you should always be kind.

Leaders should be: [Fill in the blank.] 

Depending on whether you’re a traditionalist, boomer, Gen X, millennial, or Gen Z, you probably have very different perspectives on what leadership looks like and how leaders should act. In recent years, leading with kindness is starting to take a front seat. 

“By now, many leaders have realized that when it comes to business, nice guys often finish first. Old-fashioned images of corporate callousness and greed have been replaced by a gentler, more human conception of great leadership,” according to William F. Baker and Michael O’Malley, authors of Leading with Kindness: How Good People Consistently Get Superior Results.

One perspective we can all agree on when it comes to defining leadership: “A leader is someone others choose to follow.”  If nobody is following you, you are not a leader.  The characteristics of effective leaders are the same traits we seek when choosing who to follow.

Put people first
While kindness isn’t explicitly mentioned in Agile values, it is implicit in the first which states: We value individuals and interactions over processes and tools.  Essentially it says, we put people first. We adapt our practices and our processes to meet the needs of our people, not the other way round. 

Being kind starts with empathy and caring about others.  We want our employees to care about our goals, our customers, our profit margins. If we want them to care, then we as leaders must genuinely care about their wellbeing, paths, and goals.  You would only choose to follow someone you believe genuinely cares about you — your wellbeing, concerns, and success.

Putting people first allows them to perform at their best. It allows them to care. Otherwise, what we’re saying is: “I give you money, therefore you must care.” That’s not what happens. You give me money to do a job. You don’t pay me to care. People can’t be a headcount in a spreadsheet. People are individuals — with a name and a belly button.

Take every interaction with a positive intent
If somebody screwed up or made a bad decision, it’s not because they intended to do it. If we assume positive intent in the actions and decisions of the people we lead then our focus becomes not about blame and consequences, but rather about growth, learning and improvement.  One characteristic that all effective leaders share is the recognition that “Everything is my fault!” We are always accountable for all of it. This admission allows us to have conversations about how to grow better together — how to make better decisions and take better actions.

If someone is not succeeding, it’s our role as leaders to provide the support mechanisms and structures, or create environments where they will be more successful. Leading with kindness means that we, as leaders, need to find ways to make the environment and the person more successful. When we fail to do so, it’s on us, not on them. We want to create a culture that celebrates small failures so as to avoid the large ones.

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Leading with kindness is caring. If we care, we need to assume people are acting with good intentions.

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When we talk about kind leadership, we’re modeling the behaviors of the people we want around us. We want our team to be open, transparent, and honest, be courageous, and treat other—s with respect. It starts with us.

Kind leaders don’t try to be ‘nice’

Being ‘kind’ is not the same as being ‘nice’. Being ‘nice’ is not required — being respectful is.  It’s about always letting people know where you stand with them. Being ‘nice’ is often disingenuous.  It sometimes hides our true intentions.   If someone’s trying to be nice, they may censor themselves and not be honest. Maybe it’s to avoid conflict, to be liked, or ingratiate themselves. Being nice can often mask a bunch of other motives. 

If we care about the people we interact with, we will begin to prioritize their needs above our own.. Acting with kindness means acting in a way that benefits the other person even if it doesn’t directly benefit you.  It’s about giving before asking  and never taking. 

Being kind in challenging situations means you empathize, listen, and understand. You don’t do it to be nice, likable, or it’s your job. You do it because you genuinely care.

Kind leaders are forward looking
Kind leaders ask, “How do we do it better next time?” What’s done is done. There’s nothing we can do about it. If we are as truly accountable as leaders then punishing someone for a mistake they made would be misdirected.  If somebody’s not the right fit and doesn’t work well within the team, firing them is the right thing to do. But it’s not done for retribution but rather out of kindness to that person and the rest of the team.  If you’re kind, you genuinely want that person to do well, even if it’s not at your company. And you’ll probably do what you can to give them a soft landing and help them find a better opportunity.

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Being right doesn’t matter
People are overly consumed with being right or proving themselves right. Success matters. Achieving the goal matters. Saying “I told you so” is irrelevant.

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It takes courage to be a kind and effective leader
Not everything works out the way we want it to. To provide openness, feedback and clear direction means we’re exposing ourselves to potentially failing. Fear of failure isn’t unreasonable. The courage to face that fear is what makes someone a good leader. 

A leader is someone you choose to follow
Kindness is a characteristic people want to follow. If your team knows you care about them, their success, and what happens to them, that means they can trust you. If they can trust you, they can collaborate with you. They won’t be afraid to fail because they know you won’t throw them under the bus. You’ll protect and shield them. If all this is true, they are more likely to follow you. These are all attributes of kindness in leadership. 

In order to be kind, we have to care.

People Over Process: Behind Agile’s Core Principles

People Over Process: Behind Agile’s Core Principles

In “People Over Process,” Michael K Levine explains how the focus on “Individuals and Interactions” over “Processes and Tools” is key to Agile. That’s why it was the first value listed in the Manifesto for Agile Software Development.  20 years on, we can see why and how this core value influences everything Agile accomplishes when adopted by businesses – and why  industry giants are making the switch. 

What it means to place processes over individuals

How does a workplace maintain or grow its output? Some employers develop techniques after months or years of troubleshooting and then rigidly stick to their formula, swapping out employees as necessary to ensure their workforce adheres to these principles

Conceptually, it makes sense. Processes are developed because businesses seek to minimize losses and risks while maximizing profits. Entrepreneurs often reduce methods to 0s and 1s, optimizing operations according to the most efficient method at the time.

While some employers are more comfortable with this degree of control, it comes with a price — placing the team members’ needs lower on the priority list and stifling creativity and flexibility.

It’s also a stark contrast to how Agile is meant to operate. 

The Agile difference – an individual-first approach

Agile organizations are built on adaptability requiring cooperation from your team in the pursuit of a common goal, maintaining communication with consumers to create products they’ll want to purchase, and the ability to produce the goods at an efficient rate. 

These three components working in tandem don’t just inspire flexibility; they require it. What if a global event (like a pandemic) causes the needs and desires of the market to change? Likewise, what if a shift in how your workplace operates fundamentally changes the processes you’ve been employing up to that moment? It could be as simple as changing healthcare protocols, or as dire as wages no longer being sufficient to provide a livelihood for your employees.

For some businesses, this would mean stubbornly sticking to the way things have always been done and trying to force the market and team members to go along with it. However, Agile companies aren’t just willing to adapt – they’re ready to adapt. 

There are considerable benefits to this flexibility, besides the ability to keep releasing products without disrupting your supply line. Your employees will appreciate their needs being accommodated, resulting in a greater affinity for you as their employer and the company as a whole, boosting their productivity and the quality of goods they’re creating. 

This, in turn, reaches your consumers, increasing their affinity for your company as a provider of high quality goods, turning them into loyal customers and making them more likely to spread the word to their peers, who also begin to look to you as a reliable supplier.

Placing “people over process” has a domino effect. By placing individuals before processes or tools; by treating your workers not just as subordinates, but as partners in the creation of high quality goods or services, you improve your business’s ability to deliver for employees and customers alike. That’s what sets Agile organizations apart from the rest.

How to use Scrum Burndown Charts to Measure Performance

 Is Your Team on Target? How to use Scrum Burndown Charts to Measure Performance

Scrum Burndown Charts are designed to provide your team with feedback on how you’re performing, so you can make informed decisions as you move forward.  There are different levels of burndowns including project, release, and sprint burndowns, but they all have the same purpose — to give your team feedback against your target plan. 

All burndown charts have the same basic structure: measuring time (X axis) versus planned work remaining (Y axis). We’re going to look at four different ways of measuring a sprint burndown at the Product Backlog Item (PBI) level.

Burn down the number of incomplete PBIs on the sprint

The challenge with burning down the number of incomplete PBIs is that sometimes items vary dramatically in size. If some items can be implemented in 3 days while other items may take 7 or 8 days, this may not give you enough precision in terms of how you’re doing against the plan. 

Burn down the estimate of incomplete PBIs

The drawback with burning down the estimate of incomplete PBIs is that some items can only be completed in half a sprint. Your chart will accurately show a horizontal line until day 6, but it’s not very informative in terms of showing whether you’re on target or not. You won’t know until day 6 or day 7 if you’re behind, and at that point, you won’t have a lot of options.

Burn down at the sprint task level

If you’ve identified 100 tasks that you must execute during the sprint, you can burn down the number of incomplete tasks. But take note: your plan isn’t fixed. If on day one, you had 100 tasks and on day two you had 95 tasks, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve completed five. You could have completed 10 and identified 5 new tasks.

This chart shows you the number remaining which includes both those to be completed, those removed, and those that you added.  However, if some of the tasks vary dramatically in size (from an hour or two to a couple of days), then burning down the number of tasks may not give you a great enough level of precision.

Burn down the estimated task hours remaining

You may decide to estimate the 100 tasks by the number of  hours it should take to complete them. If the total estimated hours are 500, you’d expect to have no hours remaining at the end of the sprint. There’s a trajectory you’re supposed to take – a flight path your team’s work must take to finish this planned amount of work in this amount of time. This becomes the target.

Why plotting your progress helps you make informed decisions 

By plotting your team’s progress on a daily basis, you can clearly see the trend of when you’re going to complete this planned work. If you’re looking at a burndown with the red line as opposed to the burndown with the blue line, it should lead you to make very different decisions.

burndown chart

The blue line tells you that you’re ahead of plan and there’s very little risk of not finishing everything you planned. But the red line tells a very different story, because based on your current rate of progress, you’re not going to finish everything you planned. This means you need to be very careful about what you choose to work on, since only the completed tasks become part of the increment.

Take note: the estimated hours remaining is not equal to the original estimate minus time spent – it’s a re-estimation of the time remaining now you’ve started working on it.

The Bottom Line

Burndown charts are a useful way of tracking progress and helping your team make informed decisions. But a word of caution: burndown charts are only useful if they are placed where everyone can see it and your team looks at it and uses it every day.

Is Agile Right for Your Business?

Is Agile Right for Your Business?

When it comes to business, “one size fits all” solutions simply don’t work — especially when income is on the line and businesses can reach a make-or-break point within days. Whether you’re a small business or an enterprise, it’s vital to constantly optimize operations, reduce job costs and wasted time, and keep up with your competitors’ successes or failures. 

All this, and you still have to take product creation and your audience’s response into consideration. That’s why businesses turn to varying operational methods in an effort to handle these variables. 

Agile can prove to be a powerful framework for businesses. Initially developed for software companies looking to speed up their delivery of high-quality applications, Agile’s core principles  continue to attract business owners from various niches. With its people-focused approach and flexibility, it’s arming companies with the tools they need to succeed even during incredibly volatile times such as COVID-19.

Making the switch to Agile is an often beneficial process, but it’s also a complex one. Before you commit to making the change, consider this:

What are the current bottlenecks in your process?

Agile was built to compete with the rapidly evolving world of technology, where updates to new tech can be made obsolete by the time they make it to market. Developers have shifted their focus to pushing out products more quickly, while getting fast feedback to enable them to swiftly start work on new iterations.

If speed and customer feedback are vital to your business, Agile may be the answer.

How important is team member freedom?

It may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s not that clear cut. Theoretically, you may want team members to have all the freedom they need, but not all businesses thrive when team members have room to experiment. 

Sometimes, it takes a firm hand and a singular vision to guide a team to the most effective solutions. If that’s the case for your company, Agile might not be what you’re looking for. Agile places a large amount of value on cultivating team members when it comes to creativity and initiative, and advises managers to grant team members the ability to sink or swim. In some scenarios, “sink” would spell disaster for an entire company, not just a project or product.

Are you flexible?

Flexibility isn’t just a core concept of Agile, it’s a prerequisite. The methodology itself changes over time (just as businesses evolve over time). There are more than one type of Agile to choose from, including Kanban, Scrum, Crystal, and more. By the time you read this post, new types could be available or the current flavor of the month could have lost popularity. If this annoys you or makes you anxious, Agile might not be for you.

Can your business afford the change?

Can your business afford the time and money it’ll cost to train your team on Agile principles? Take a look at Scaled Agile’s Implementation Roadmap which describes how involved it can be to implement Agile, including teaching, training, creating groups, and scaling implementation as your organization (depending on the size) slowly shifts various assets over to the Agile way of working.  

Can your business afford to spend hours on training? What if you implemented it one piece at a time? How much leeway do you have? What will happen if you have team members who are slow or resistant to making the switch to Agile?

These are critical questions. Make sure you have the answers before you make the switch.

The bottom line

The Agile Methodology is powerful, but it’s not a framework that every single business can, or should, adopt. Doing your research and weighing the potential impacts and benefits can help you decide if moving to Agile is right for you.

 

Kanban vs Scrum: What’s Better for Your Project?

Kanban vs Scrum: What’s Better for Your Project?

Deciding between Kanban vs Scrum can be a tough nut to crack, especially since these terms are often mistaken for one another and go hand-in-hand. However, there are some key factors that set them apart. 

What is Scrum all about?

Scrum is a framework that builds upon the Agile project management method. It’s a widely used methodology for handling projects, and keeping up rapid action, advancement, testing, and delivery of products.

Typically, projects are divided into two-week or one-month cycles called ‘sprints’. It’s the Scrum Team’s responsibility to keep the execution of pre-set tasks within the given interval, so the next Sprint may set off uninterrupted. Daily retrospective meetings are indispensable elements of a successful iteration. 

Related: Agile QuickTip: Kick off your Team with a Retrospective

What is the essence of Kanban?

Kanban is a frequently utilized agile methodology, characteristized by ‘visualization’. By contrast to Scrum, Kanban focuses less on deadlines and puts more emphasis on work in progress (WIP). Assignments and processes are added to a Kanban board, where team members can easily visualize them. It aims to identify and get past difficulties, enhance productivity and output, and make the pace of workflow consistent.

Since both approaches are iterative in nature, split projects into smaller pieces, and prioritize early product delivery throughout steady process improvement, there’s confusion over which approach is best suited to a given project — especially since a study shows  the two methods can successfully coexist in projects. 

Kanban vs Scrum: Differences in cadence

As mentioned, Scrum progresses quickly to meet each Sprint’s deadlines. Due to relatively short iterations, complicated assignments are broken down into more manageable pieces which facilitates team adaptation and learning. Sprints are handled via planning, review, and Scrum meetings on a daily basis.

Kanban’s primary goal is to keep the workflow running and alert the team about altering priorities. A Kanban board perfectly serves this purpose, as it lets the team keep track of tasks that can be uniquely categorized. Often used labels include “To do”, “Working on it”, and “Stuck”.

Individual delivery methods in Kanban vs Scrum

In Scrum, the final product delivery happens ideally at the end of each Sprint. During the Sprint review meeting, the team decides whether the Sprint Goal (the team’s predetermined objective) may be released or not.

Kanban doesn’t operate on fixed deadlines. Therefore, updates are delivered as soon as they are finished, irrespective of whether they were ready earlier or later than expected.

Important metrics used in Kanban vs Scrum

Undoubtedly, speed is Scrum’s most significant metric, providing a great reference point for how heavy workloads can be in future iterations.

Kanban relies heavily on cycle time, which indicates how long it takes for an assignment to reach the finish line. Boosting this metric is crucial for the efficiency of Kanban teams.

Different accountabilities in Kanban vs Scrum

Scrum accountabilities are built on three specific pillars: the Product Owner, the Scrum Master, and the Developers. The first advocates for the customer, promotes developer task-prioritization, and handles the product backlog. The second guides the team to achieve optimal results. Lastly, the third delivers increments and requested business values.

Would You Like To Improve Your Skills As A Scrum Master Or Product Owner? Check Out Our Available Online Classes!

In Kanban, there’s one collective team working on the board. Sometimes a coach is appointed for better coordination, but these teams usually operate based on mutual responsibility.

Which framework fits your project best?

There’s no clear answer to this question. It’s all project, team and goal-dependent. We’ve identified key considerations to help you decide what will work better for your project:

  • Customer-centric approach:
    Scrum is your go-to method. Feedback is the backbone of any Scrum Team, helping them learn what’s best for customers, and refocus priorities accordingly
  • Framework with milestones and boundaries:
    Choose Scrum, since its limited flexibility may foster better productivity, efficiency and output
  • 10+ people in your team:
    Consider Kanban. Scrum is suitable for smaller groups because of daily meetings and fixed deadlines; Kanban is ideal for bigger teams that mostly work on a collective board.
  • Changing project goals or priorities:
    Pick Kanban. While Scrum operations are more prone to stoppage due to delays, Kanban processes usually don’t build upon one another. It all comes down to continuous update release. When there are several different requests in varying size and priority and one process runs up against obstacles, the others will keep going.

Still not sure? Talk to one of our experts about whether the Scrum methodology is a good fit for your organization.

Survival of the Fittest: How Agile Organizations Thrived Through the Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic caused massive disruptions to businesses worldwide, marking a fundamental change in the way many businesses operated. When put in a situation of adapt or die, some businesses were able to not only survive but thrive, while others shut their doors for good.

The organizations which shifted quickly and were able to rapidly iterate their business models were able to grow, while competitors who lagged behind saw their market share shrinking due to their inability to adapt to the uncertainty and complexity of rapidly changing markets.

Those that thrived were Agile-enabled businesses. As its name suggests, Agile is an evolving methodology that can serve businesses in all niches. Here’s how they won big:

        Embracing uncertainty — businesses that embraced the uncertainty and risk of a rapidly shifting environment were able to commit themselves to continuously iterating and evolving themselves together with market and pandemic conditions.

        Focusing on customers — quickly receiving as much feedback as possible and swiftly turning it into new products or product updates.

        Being flexible — changing project requirements, expectations, or processes (even if it was late in development) to keep consumer benefits front and center.

        Ensuring consistent quality — never sacrificing quality in the name of speed or efficiency, since providing high quality goods retains consumer loyalty.

        Putting people first — the pandemic disrupted not only businesses but the personal lives of every organizational employee.  Companies that were able to empathize with and prioritize the needs of their employees were able to cultivate an environment rich in openness, engagement, and trust.

With these and other Agile principles in place, Agile organizations were in a unique position when the pandemic sent shockwaves through businesses around the globe. Processes were disrupted, supply lines faced shortages and roadblocks, and employees and employers alike had to worry about rapidly changing healthcare precautions which impacted their ability to carry out business as usual.

Unlike their competitors, Agile organizations had a reliable framework which enabled them to navigate and prioritize as they dealt with the pandemic, using new methods and technologies to help them connect with their customers. They became more active on social media, ensured their websites reflected operational changes with respect to COVID-19, and quickly adopted then-underutilized technology such as Zoom or Microsoft teams.

Similar measures were taken to enable businesses to work remotely or safely. Since Agile teams tend to have highly motivated individuals who make delivering high quality goods their top priority, there was little pushback in adopting new working methods if it meant a job well done.

When McKinsey & Company interviewed businesses undergoing Agile transformation, their analysis showed that when it came to the ability to perform in key sectors of business management during the pandemic, 93% of respondents said almost all of their Agile business units performed better or significantly better in delivering customer satisfaction than Non-Agile units.

Similar results were reported for operational performance and employee engagement, with employee engagement performing the worst of the three metrics (even so, 76% of respondents said Agile helped them perform better than non-Agile units did).

Agile has expanded far beyond its software roots and is still growing and constantly evolving to keep up with a changing world. That said, looking back at how businesses survived, thrived, or died during the pandemic, there’s a strong case to double-down on your Agile transformation.

The Symbiotic Relationship between Sprint Backlogs and Product Backlogs

The Symbiotic Relationship between Sprint Backlogs and Product Backlogs

If you’re new to the Scrum methodology, the difference between Sprint Backlog and Product Backlog can be a head-scratcher. Let’s take a quick look at these tools. Ready, set, go!

What is the Product Backlog?

Essentially, a Product Backlog (PB) is a dynamic list of potential future investments a team is going to make in pursuit of a higher level product goal.   It’s almost a wishlist of future delivery — a prioritized list of outputs and outcomes that a scrum team may deliver down the road. Its elements are referred to as Product Backlog Items (PBIs), which can be features, services, process improvements, research, defects fixes, solutions and potentially even user stories. Items prioritized higher are more likely to be invested in — whereas lower prioritized items which are less necessary or valuable are less likely to be worked on.

A scrum team has only one Product Backlog, a changeable plan owned by the Product Owner. As the Sprint proceeds and the team gains more knowledge on the product to be delivered, Backlog Refinement takes place as PBIs are removed, re-prioritized, and added.

Product Backlogs can be quite lengthy. In fact, some complain about their product backlog being far too long. Limiting the number of items on your product backlog might make your product owner, and in fact your entire Scrum team, more focused. 

Related: Agile QuickTip: Add Expiration Dates to Your Backlog Items

What is the Sprint Backlog?

The Sprint Backlog is the planned work in the current sprint.  It contains the team’s sprint goal for that sprint; the items from the Product Backlog that have been selected for the sprint; and the implementation plan that the Developers on the scrum team continuously update as they progress through the sprint. It’s basically an implementation plan owned and operated by the Developers, covering a subset of PBIs. Only PBI that are ‘done’ and usable are included in the increment — the latest version of the complete product that is achieved by the sprint’s end. If Developers are unable to complete an item, it doesn’t form part of the increment, and the item goes back into the Product Backlog. 

During the next Sprint Planning, the team will decide whether they want to include it in the upcoming Sprint or put it on the shelf and deal with it later — or potentially remove it altogether. Since only the Sprint Goal is fixed during a sprint, the Sprint Backlog can be modified by the Developers along the way towards the finish line to better focus on maximizing the sprint goal.

The Bottom Line

The Product Backlog represents future work for the team. The Sprint Backlog is the work being focused on today.  One cannot exist without the other. Both Sprint Backlogs and Product Backlogs are vital assets to Agile project management, providing teams with the focus and visibility to deliver increments successfully. 

The Agile Approach: Focus on Outcomes, Not Actions

The Agile Approach: Focus on Outcomes, Not Actions

As they sail the ship towards success, good leaders act as role models, setting an example for team members and boosting their performance. To continue the analogy, Agile leaders are well equipped to handle changing weather conditions or stormy seas by being quick to adapt. They combine staying power with flexibility, creating a stable work environment while inspiring the team to navigate the challenges ahead. When the going gets tough, Agile leadership can make a massive difference, boosting team performance and business growth.

Changing working methods to meet new challenges

Good leaders with productive mindsets focus on outcomes rather than actions, offering flexible work environments to teams without controlling the methods. Agile teams thrive on experimentation and lack rigidity. Since they aren’t following a set methodology to complete tasks, they’re able to change their working methods to meet new challenges.

Adaptability isn’t always easy, particularly for early-stage businesses encountering multiple challenges. With inexperienced teams, the work environment can be chaotic. Agile leadership acknowledges these challenges and creates flexible environments, allowing workforces to adapt according to the changing task requirements.

React quickly to changing circumstances

To react quickly through changing opportunities and situations, businesses need to be flexible. Today’s work environment is continuously changing because of fluctuating customer behavior. In rapidly changing conditions, teams rely on agile leadership that follows efficient and flexible execution strategies.

Since agile leadership doesn’t bind employees to follow one method for performing tasks, employees can fully utilize their unique capabilities and talents. In rare scenarios, Agile leaders may tell teams how to perform a task. But in most cases, they share the expected outcome and let the team figure out how to achieve it.

As an example, they may task teams with improving sales revenues so the business can launch a new product line. Thereafter, they consistently evaluate individual and team performance to see whether they are moving in the right direction. Throughout the process, an Agile leader concentrates on outcomes instead of actions. This helps teams put processes in place to achieve the desired results.

Agility is built on flexible environments

This approach revolves around building a flexible environment in the workplace, so team members have the freedom to put new ideas on the table. And it helps Agile leaders to grow the business with a streamlined strategy.

Agile Leadership Has the Power to Transform Your Business

In today’s organizations, modern leaders often focus on fostering a learning and experimental culture. In such environments, employees usually don’t have to worry about making mistakes because their efforts are in the interest of trying and learning new concepts every day. This type of agility, which cultivates teamwork, innovation and growth, has become even more important since the pandemic transformed businesses. In a business landscape that is constantly changing, leaders need to achieve sustainable growth in order to survive, and this has led them to realize the importance of internal collaboration at all levels.

The major focus of such managers is to accomplish business goals. Therefore, they set targets, explain their clear purpose, and determine priorities while providing professional freedom to their employees. With increasing independence, teams autonomously think and act according to milestones that help them achieve their company’s goals.

The  power of Agile leadership to transform businesses is quite underrated. Managers who coach and facilitate, rather than using hierarchical methods, create a safe and creative workplace for teams to freely lend input, try new possibilities, and make decisions. Moreover, this kind of leadership can also prevent chaotic situations and keep employees calmer so that they don’t hesitate to act. Leaders in agile environments react to unique conditions appropriately,  inspire  innovative ideas, and keep teams on the same playing field. They succeed in transforming business by prioritizing people, focusing on customer needs, and adding value.

Benefits of Agile Leadership

Here are some advantages of agile leadership for business transformation:

1. Better Communication

Bureaucratic leadership discourages  engagement within teams, and therefore  members do not get the  chance to share their views and ideas. As a result, businesses following more traditional methodology tend to  experience low employee satisfaction levels and productivity. In contrast, agile leadership focuses on building a relationship between employees at every level. Hence,  team members can communicate openly and share their opinions to improve business growth. When employees feel that managers value their ideas and opinions, they start to authentically adopt and prioritize business goals.

2. Motivated Employees

Agile leadership motivates employees to make decisions and complete tasks without fear. If an issue occurs, agile methodology promotes early detection and collaborative remedy, rather than blame and prolonged corrective processes. When teams take responsibility for a task under stress-free conditions, they can focus on every detail that may increase the risk of failure and proactively make preventative decisions. Furthermore, agile philosophy embraces the adoption of new technologies. This enables employees to remain aligned while also adopting a dynamic mindset.

3. Continuous Learning

Employees working in an agile environment develop problem-solving, strategic thinking, and design skills. When teams are unencumbered by fear about making mistakes, they can concentrate on project goals, learn better and improve workflow through experimentation. As a result, employees come up with innovative ideas and strategies to complete tasks successfully. Furthermore, agile managers empower their employees by bolstering their skills through robust tools and resources.

4. Increased Energy

The agile business approach accelerates business progress, and employees feel motivated to work according to their leader’s methodology. In this way, teams accomplish business goals and generate more revenue in less time. Moreover, when teams connect, they share their collective expertise and energy and strive to achieve positive results. Agile methodology is revolutionary for business because it establishes an efficient and vibrant framework that removes constraints on employees to exceed expectations.

Conclusion

Agile leadership  drives free exchanges of communication and information and encourages a high-performing and healthy culture. As a result, businesses become more collaborative, responsive, and mobilized. The main benefits of an agile organization are rapid decision-making and  learning opportunities  for teams. Teams therefore work toward common goals and make collective decisions using  the most sound intelligence and data. Agile processes result in efficiency and stability within company environments and significantly boost business growth.

 

Agile Leadership: How to Balance Recognition and Criticism

Agile Leadership: How to Balance Recognition and Criticism

The coronavirus pandemic has turned the world upside down, forcing  most companies and businesses  to react to abruptly changing conditions instead of planning ahead proactively. This change epitomizes why agile leadership is so important. In times of uncertainty and chaos, business agility provides the adaptability to pivot in every situation and quickly change course to restore stability and structure—a way to manage change effectively and respond productively.   

Agile business leaders and executives have a responsibility to balance the delivery of constructive criticism with encouragement for their employees. Managers must be mindful that skewing significantly  to either side of this equation will likely leave employees confused and uncertain by their leader’s overly negative or positive focus, and unable to improve their work performance in meaningful ways.

From promoting from within and providing constructive feedback to acknowledging team and individual efforts, here are some ways agile leaders can recognize and praise employees while also delivering the necessary critique required to keep their team on track and improving.

What is Agile Leadership?

Agile leadership is all about cultivating a high-performance team that understands the benefits of fluid and responsive methodology, and then applies these principles to a company’s structures, processes, and people-development activities in order to increase competitiveness. 

Agile leaders must create a carefully balanced and fair system that supports business operations efficiently. This means providing constructive criticism and feedback together with recognition for employees, while also offering necessary guidance for performance improvement. 

Encourage Your Employees

According to Balance Careers, agile leaders who use encouraging words in order to inspire employees and show support can boost morale, improve workflows, and develop strong leaders from within an organization. 

Agile leaders understand that management is not “one-size-fits-all” and it needs to adapt to varying situations. This is why  agile transformation is a valuable tool for responding in unique circumstances in the most productive and befitting way.  

Being an agile and truly transparent leader requires creating a culture in which your employees can easily acknowledge when they have overcommitted or underperformed. Remember that agility is characterized by  rapid iteration and innovation. When you encourage this level of authentic creativity and innovation, your teams will solve problems together and get more done.

Be Firm, Transparent and Fair

As an agile leader, it is important to consistently strive to be transparent, firm, and fair. What does this mean? It means that your team always knows where you stand and can rely on you to give honest and unbiased feedback that includes what went right and where they may continue to “level up.” 

Honor Employee Achievements

Experts stress the importance of having an adequate employee recognition program with an employee service award component at minimum. From international recognition programs to individual incentive programs, it’s important to recognize employee achievements to  boost morale, increase confidence, and improve self-worth. This results in greater productivity and achievement of company goals.

Prioritize a Development Lens

Agile leaders should approach both positive feedback and critique through a unique development lens. Rather than focusing on the person themself,  performance reviews should address the body of work or project that is the subject of the feedback. 

Summing Up

Both praise and criticism are essential for successful agile leadership to  achieve remarkable performance and realize both individual and team potential. However, it’s important to remember that defining or prescribing  exact phrasing  for a constructive criticism ratio is not  practical nor effective. This is because all people are  individuals and respond to feedback in different ways.