Tuesday, June 28, 2011


I attended the recent Beyond Agile gathering where Esther Derby talked about different types of leadership and the benefits of "Leader-Full Teams". One of her main points was that the classic model of leadership - a single, charismatic figure and the followers - is outdated and doesn't fit today's software development world with its agile knowledge workers. Instead, we form "goal oriented social units" where each member is a leader and is empowered to make small, subtle decisions and changes that ripple out with positive effect.

For example, instead of a leader directing the team to "be more creative", a team member can throw out a wild idea to promote challenges and counter ideas.

A leader...

is self-aware - blind spots, filters, strengths/weaknesses - and aware of group and system dynamics.

has tools and options for action, knows the relationships between them, and combines them to achieve desired outcomes.

combines differences - skills, ideas, thinking - for effectiveness.

tightens constraints to focus a group's attention or applies them to add organization to chaos.

As a bit of an experiment, Esther got the group to form small teams tasked with creating an objet d'art. The only requirements were height, strength and beauty, which led to some amazing creations and the highlighting of a valuable tool/option: don't over specify.

No comments: