Agile leadership is more about influence than control; more about providing service than direction. For those new to agile leadership, language becomes an important tool to help with that mind-shift. Here are three common phrases for any agile leader to begin with.
Our mothers were right, liberal use of "thank you" should be a part of our day. It is not just about being polite as our mothers advocated. It is an important tool to recognize one person's efforts on behalf of another. In our case, it is recognition that someone has helped their team. Too many organizations devise elaborate systems incentive based rewards overlooking the fact that a simple "thank you" if is a far more motivating recognition. And oh yes, it sets that tone of civility our mother's wanted which helps the team thrive.
What Do You Want to Do About That?
Agile leaders must find the delicate balance between stepping back to allow the team to grow and stepping up to provide direction team needs. It is a great temptation for new agile leaders to step in when they see their teams struggling with an issue, particularly when out of habit the team comes to us expecting solutions. "What Do You Want to Do About That?" is a great way to promote the self-organizing and self-directing behavior we want the team to exhibit. It starts the right tone of conversation and can lead us through the steps to determine if the team really understands the issue, if they have really thought about solutions, and whether as agile leaders we need to simply provide additional information or if the team has truly discovered an impediment that we need to address.
Oh, That's My Fault!
Nothing stresses a new agile team more than the discovery that something has not worked out as planned. The historical behavior of many organizations is to start the "blame game" and find some poor unsuspecting sap to shoulder the blame, even though that person may not have had anything to do with it. When as an agile leader we step in with "Oh, That's My Fault!", we subvert the blame game. Now the team can move forward with "What Do You Want to Do About That?". After a couple times of taking the blame for team, we often find that team members will start countering with the same phrase --"Oh no, no -- it is really my fault". That's the first step to recognizing placing blame is not useful, we simply need to first move on to solutions and then to preventing the issue from reoccurring. Blame has no place in that.
Oh, that's my fault. What do you want to do about that? Thank you! If as agile leaders we fill our day with these, we ought to be off to a pretty good start. What other phrases do you include in your agile leadership vocabulary?