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Agile requires humility from leaders

Updated: Apr 16

Darrell Rigby does it again, in his latest HBR article, he explains why Agile is not just for the teams delivering the work but also for leaders. We need leaders to create a balanced structure to ensure scalability and control while promoting innovation. We need leaders to stop wasting time on silly status meetings and really focus on prioritizing the work of the organization and removing their impediments.


This is exactly the kind of work I address with leadership teams I work with. How can I help you turn this into a reality? Schedule time with me to discuss.


Here are some of my favorite excerpts from the article:

  • Executives come to understand that an hour spent reviewing or second-guessing the work of experienced operating managers creates far less incremental value than an hour invested in developing major cross-functional innovations

  • People who work on agile teams—even if they don’t rank high in the organization—are likely to respond to orders with comments like these: “That might be the right answer, but we’d like to test it first.” Or “Our data shows that customers don’t value the feature you’re proposing.” Or “We tried that idea and rejected it. Here’s why.”

  • Humble people recognize the futility of predicting the unpredictable and instead build rapid feedback loops to ensure that initiatives stay on track.

  • They view their job as helping team members learn and take responsibility, rather than telling every team member what to do and how to do it.

  • A few courageous leaders had begun giving him feedback of a sort he’d never heard before. They told him that they wanted to be led differently. His leadership style, they said, wasn’t bringing out the best in people,

  • He engaged in two-way communication instead of issuing one-way direction.

  • Many referred to the “constructive conflict” that replaced passive participation. The team pushed discussions into decisions. The decision-to-action pace increased

  • Agile leadership demands that executives create a carefully balanced system that delivers both stability and agility

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