Tips for Leading Self-Organizing Teams

When it comes to having and leading an Agile team, finding the balance between taking on a traditional management role and letting a self-organizing team more forward on their own front is a tough thing to do.
You can’t be too overly aggressive in the leadership role but you also can’t fade into the background so much that you become unnecessary; instead you have to learn the art of guiding without a heavy hand. So how do you successfully lead a self-organizing team?

  1. Allow the team to respond to their environment
    The manager’s responsibility is not to determine how the team should respond but simply to help influence the environment the team is in and let them respond accordingly. It can be hard for some leaders to let go of the dictatorship personality, but in order to guarantee success this is necessary.
  2. Support communication within the team
    Any problems should not be harbored but should be openly discussed amongst team members. It is the leader’s job to facilitate discussion and encourage the team to find solutions, not to find the solutions and present them to the team. 
  3. Know Agile inside and out
    If you’re going to be in the management role you need to know absolutely anything and everything about Agile. The most effective way to lead others is to be able to live and breathe the values and principles of what it is you’re leading.
  4. Give room for growth
    Understanding that the team will make mistakes is all part of the process. It is crucial for the leader of the team to allow room for mistakes so that the team can problem solve and grow together.
  5. Do not give up all control
    It is easy to fade into the background to allow the team to function on their own but their purpose is not to function wholly without you. You must take the leadership position and choose the projects and influence the guidelines and then let them flourish.

It takes a strong person to be able to lead a self-organizing team without dominating the team. The art of subtlety is one that must be mastered to take on an effective leadership role, and the core principles and values of Agile must be fully embraced.

Author Byline:

Ken Myers as an Expert Adviser on multiple household help issues to many Organizations and groups, and is a mentor for other “Mom-preneurs” seeking guidance. He is a regular contributor of “www.gonannies.com/”. You can get in touch with him at kmyers.ceo@gmail.com.

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