Managing the Agile Workforce – Chapter 11: Characteristics of Agile Leaders

To conclude our series of blogs on Managing the Agile Workforce, it seems appropriate to summarise the skills, attributes and practices of effective virtual / agile leaders and teams, based on the research we carried out in this area, against each of the topics we looked at.

This chapter summarises the Manager/leader skills and attributes – next time we will turn to those of the Team. As you review these – think of your own situation and ask yourself how you measure up to these aspects.

MANAGEMENT STYLE

  • Adopt a transformational management style, combining diplomacy, coaching, facilitation and team defence
  • Encourage participation and empower the team to take decisions, but ensuring visibility and availability to the team
  • Recognise the importance of protecting the psychological contract
  • Manage by outcomes, not presence; recognise effort and accomplishment; avoid micromanaging

PERSONALITY

  • Listen – seek and interpret the context affecting virtual team members to facilitate openness and trust
  • Care about people as people and seek inputs when apart – don’t allow distance to become a barrier
  • Set people challenges and support their pursuit of them, using a mix of techniques (not just observation) to monitor performance
  • Coach and develop team colleagues, using face-to-face and remote methods to do so

RELATIONSHIPS

  • Lead by example – role model effective virtual working behaviours
  • Use inclusive style – encourage participation
  • Include as many members in the “in group” as possible – take responsibility for building relationships
  • Select the right people for the team – based on knowledge of the task and skills / personalities of team members

COGNITIVE BIAS

  • Recognise the potential for bias to affect judgement, particularly when team members aren’t seen regularly
  • Strive to re-set any biases when in a 1:1 situation
  • Seek other views & input from team members and others when reaching conclusions about performance
  • Remain wary of who to choose for an alternate view (the choice may be biased – choose someone least like yourself)

COMMUNICATION

  • Willing to adapt to the preferences of the team regarding communication styles – but be alert to the potential for:
    • misunderstandings
    • lack of clarity
    • some people being unable to adapt to the needs of others
    • people’s needs being overlooked
    • new team members’ needs
  • Ensure team members receive training in appropriate communication media
  • Monitor the quality of all forms of communication to ensure team cohesion maintained

TRUST

  • Have or develop a propensity to trust others
  • Demonstrate trustworthy behaviour and trust in others to encourage reciprocal behaviour
  • Demonstrate adherence to procedural justice when dealing with individual team members and situations
  • Ensure team members share their competence and skills with others – to build trust

CO-ORDINATION OF TASKS

  • Work with team to establish clarity of vision and how team goals contribute to the vision
  • Work to ensure precision in what is expected from team members – agree expectations with members
  • Encourage team to celebrate successes even when apart
  • Understand the nature of tasks and assign the best people to complete them

Next time we will conclude our blog series on Managing the Agile Workforce by looking at the skills and attributes of Agile Teams.