Sixth installment - the starting problem series - the worst leadership mistake

Mar 23, 2014 4:35:01 AM / by Naeem Hussain

Naeem Hussain

As experienced leaders, we expect that our managers and executives trust us as well as give us autonomy in decision-making. Some call this empowerment. The secret for this empowerment begins with trust.

Way too many organizations, attempt to adopt popular agile methodologies, like Scrum. Many fail. Leaders in these organizations make one critical mistake - they do not have confidence that given the new "freedom", their team members will do the right thing. At the core, they lack trust. Now, as a manager or leader, there are deliverable that you are accountable for. And if you cannot deliver on these expectations, it is clearly a setback and in many cases with consequences. So how can you as a leader navigate this situation?

Consider this guidance:

1) Grow up - you have hired adults and so, you just have to allow them to be adults. Tap into the core element of responsible adults - have your team and individuals make commitments. They do not need directions at every point. Let them do their job.

2) Shorten feedback cycles - be selfish - ensure that they do not commit to deliver in 18 months, instead, have them break things down delivery to every few weeks. This will provide short-term delivery goals and evidence, and give you runway for building your confidence.

3) Set goals - you are still the leader and you have to set goal. The key is to influence your team to buy into the goal. Don't impose, influence.

4) Listen - if your team raises an impediment, acknowledge and work with them to resolve it. Take ownership - be the person who backs them and they will back you. Represent them, but challenge them to keep chugging along.

5) Ignite their passion - trust your team, challenge them to deliver, ignite their passion. Praise them for hitting the short deliveries, congratulate, and appreciate.

To get your team to trust you, you will have to trust them first. Your growth is dependent on their success. Get out of their way, be the coach, provide direction and your constraints. For where you want to go, let them determine the road - trust the team. You will get incredible insights on how to get there fast and cheap.



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Topics: Starting Problem Series, Agile, Agile Organizational Design, Continuous Business Value Delivery, AgiLEAD

Written by Naeem Hussain

Naeem Hussain is the COO of CirrusLabs. In this role, he focuses on advisory services for the leadership team of respective organizations for enterprise transformation, scaling agile adoption across the enterprise, creating in-sourcing strategies, and implementing DevOps practices. During his consulting career, Mr. Hussain has worked with large corporate clients such as Capital One Bank, Angie's List, Urban Outfitters, Pointroll, General Services Administration, Anthem Health and Transamerica.With an MBA from the University of Chicago and an M.S. degree from the George Washington University, Mr. Hussain has held various leadership and executive positions with Siemens, ING DIRECT, Capital, COO of MGRM Holdings and Co-founder and CFO of AgileTrailblazers . Mr. Hussain also serves as a member of the George Washington University School of Engineering & Applied Sciences National Advisory Council.

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