What is the Role of Leadership in an Agile Organization?

There is a lot of talk around being an “agile” organization these days. Since COVID began so abruptly last spring, many organizations are reconsidering how they adapt to change, and being “agile” sounds appealing.  Leaders are asking their teams to be more agile, but what should teams count on those in a leadership role to do in an Agile organization?

One foundational principle of both Agile and Lean, is to decentralize decision making.  Specifically, delegate decision making to the lowest possible level that can make an responsible decision.  This avoids teams having to unnecessarily escalate decisions, which often causes delay. Thus, teams should be able to count on their Agile Leaders to empower employees down the line to make real-time decisions. In doing this, the teams are empowered to manage their work and drive deliverables.

Agile Fundamentals with AJC

Meet AJC's Agile expert Alex Jones and learn how Agile concepts and tools can help your team be more effective.

Teams must be able to count on their Agile Leaders to spend much of their time making more strategic, longer lasting, and impactful decisions that will carry the organization into the future.

For Leaders who are used to a more traditional management approach, managers assigned tasks, pushed their employees to finish work, and required escalation for all decisions, transforming to an Agile Organization will require management behavior changes.  The chart below shows how the boxed items are not part of Agile Leaders’ activities, while higher level strategic items are what they can expect to spend time doing.

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