Agile Leadership

Are You Being Followed?

Look behind you. Are you being followed?

I use this statement as an introduction for a reason. In today’s society it might sound a bit “creepy”, but if you think you are a leader, this is the best way to check out if you really are one. If you have no one following you, you are not a leader. You are just another individual, in whatever walk of life that you are in, thinking that you are something you are not. Wow, a strong statement, right? Yes, it is and I make this statement because I want people to sit up and take notice of what I am about to “say.” Interested? If you are, read on.

As an instructor in one of our local college/universities, I have this very unique opportunity each night of the week, of training professionals involved in all levels of our Business Community. This gives me the opportunity to train hundreds of professionals each year in what I call the “Agile Space.” As well, I remotely advise, train, and coach globally. I also advise, train, and coach in the corporate environment. In this process, so many individuals confidentially share with me the experiences of their organizations as their organizations attempt to move into this area called Agile Product development. Much of this is involved in the Software Development arena.

I use the word, “attempt” here, because many organizations are not achieving the successes that should be achieved if we are to believe what we read in the “press.” For example, in one of his latest books, Jeff Sutherland, the co-founder of Scrum, the most popular Agile Framework used globally today, titled his work this way, “Twice the Work In Half The Time.” A very interesting title. But, is this really true? Or are we being fed a “bunch” of hype so that someone can make money?

Many organizations find these statements on what “agile” will do for them very hard to believe and believe that it is hype Why? Because they think they have “tried” agile and it didn’t work. The 2 key words to notice in this statement are “tried” and “think.” First of all you don’t “try” agile, you become agile. Secondly, if you have to “think” you did something, as opposed to knowing you did something, then you did not do it. These are strong comments and I know I will get push-back, but I have seen just too much failure in our organizations when it comes to this philosophy of Agile, that I now respond strongly. If done right, there need not be any failure, but only success.

And what is success? Every project coming in on-time, on budget, and giving the customer/stakeholder just what they need at that point in time. And that way beyond any initial expectation. Impossible you say? Pipe dream you say? Absolutely not!

But then why does it seem to be so difficult in many other organizations to achieve these successes. I have been asking a lot of questions over the last number of years when speaking to many of these individuals that express these comments as to the problems that their organizations are having. As I examine their responses in detail, I see a trend that appears time and time again. Honestly, there is more than one reason for this failure as I put it, but there is one trend or continual thread that I see through most of these issues or problems creating failure. And it is an interesting trend or thread as I like to put it.

What is that trend? Quite simply, it is a lack of true leadership! Now that comment will probably get me in trouble with so many of these organizations. But, I have to be honest. It is this trend that has led me to spend hundreds of hours, if not thousands of hours in research, interviews, and listening to the subject matter experts over the last number of years. What this time has led me to eventually see is a weakness in many of the organizations in their “leaders.” I place the word “leader” in quotation marks for a reason. You see, I see that organizational weakness stemming from a total misunderstanding of the word, leadership.

What most individuals in the business world that I see, seem to think, is that what we mean by management is synonymous with leadership. They think and say, “because I am a manager or a director, or a chief something or other I am a leader and on the organization leadership team. And, that is absolutely not true. Management and Leadership are two very different things. I will sum up that difference with this very simple statement, “one manages things not people, but what one does is lead people.” One manages budgets, schedules, time, facilities, etc. But people must be led.

There are two very different ways to lead that we see in the business world. One way is with “power” and the other is with “influence. ”Power” leading works in the short-term, but always fails in the long-term. Just look at world history. The other way of leadership, which is the best way, and works both in the short-term and the long-term is “influence. “Power vs. Influence.” You see, many times management is “power driven” but true leadership is always “influence” driven.

In my upcoming set of courses, we delve deeper into this. We examine the difference between leadership and management. In my history in working with many levels of organization “leadership”, I have seen so many amazing managers. But many of these managers were terrible leaders. As a matter of fact, some of them would mess up if they tried to “lead 2 or more of their team down the hallway to the washroom.” But could they ever manage technology!

In our first course we will get into why this is happening. We examine where this structure all started and why it no longer works. We have a new generation of upcoming workers and leaders today that essentially refuse to work within this structure. Why? Because it is no longer workable. We see that 80% of the millennial generation who leave an organization do not quit the organization, they quit their “boss.”

With all of that said, in the Agile World we find success only comes from Leadership and not Management. And. in the world of Agility, we have come to understand that we need a very special type of Leadership, which I like to say is the only true leadership there is. And that leadership is called “Servant Leadership.” That name was coined way back in 1970, by a retried executive from A.T.& T. named Robert Greenleaf. We cover the detail behind this in our upcoming courses.

This is an amazing subject and probably would take at least a 1,000 blog posts just to scratch the surface in attempting to understand it. However, I will say this, if your intent on reading material, taking courses and listening to podcasts on Servant Leadership, is to become a Servant Leader, then my comment is this; “Don’t waste your time.” Becoming a Servant Leader and a Great Servant Leader only comes from doing it. It is about reading, learning and listening. But then, taking those things you see, hear and learn, and begin to apply them in your job and your life. It is a journey that will take your entire life to learn. You will fall, you will fail, but as a true servant leader, you need to get back up, dust yourself off, and continue moving forward. This comes from 2 characteristics of a true servant leader, “tenacity” and “commitment.” And again, we cover this in-depth in our upcoming “Agile Leadership Courses.”

The foundation for any servant leader is this, “to lead successfully, you first must serve.” I have had students say, “do you mean that we let the inmates run the asylum?” “Do we let ourselves get pushed around by the team.” No, it definitely does not. As one CEO in a major U.S. corporation who practices and believes in Servant Leadership fervently, said recently, “Real servant leaders are Pit Bulls. The hug hard and they spank hard!” When one understands this concept, then one will understand why the following great leaders were passionate believers of servant leadership; Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Dr, Martin Luther King Junior, Nelson Mandela, and the list goes on.

In our first course, we will drill into this area in great depth. We will understand that leadership and character are one and the same. We will examine the 7 characteristics of a Servant Leader. We will look at what these characteristics lead the servant leader to focus on in the leading of their teams and their organizations. And we will discover the 9 principles that bring all this together. We will look at and listen to the comments of great leaders today. Leaders in professional sports, in business, in politics, and in charitable organizations. It may surprise you when you see the names and read the comments of some of these leaders. But when you reflect on what we cover in the course and what you see happening in the real world with these individuals, and their phenomenal successes, then you will truly understand why.

There is so much more that I have “bubbling up” inside from all my many, many hours of research, but this post is already too long. I will do another post shortly, but I encourage you, when you see the first announcement of my “Agile Leadership” course, jump on board and enroll. It will be both on my Online Agile Mastery Academy and as well on Udemy. On Udemy, for my Linkedin “tribe” it will be heavily discounted. It will however be followed by a number of additional courses, as this subject cannot be covered justifiably in a 5 or 6-hour course. I hope to see you there.

However, in the meantime, all the best in you journey into the world of Agile Servant Leadership!

Remember “We are AGILE!”
Author: Ed Rubuliak
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