Agile Leadership - Alex Campbell

Agile Leadership - Alex Campbell

Learn what agile methodologies can do to improve your leadership effectiveness, your team's communication and motivation.

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Are you tired of meetings that could be an email? Do you believe that you and your colleagues could achieve more if you had more autonomy? Do you find it difficult to keep up to date about your own group's processes because of the large number of people in it?

A well applied agile leadership can solve all of these problems!

Is your staff already using this technique, but still finding problems? Maybe you should consider whether, at some point, you have deviated from what the Agile Manifesto actually preaches. It can happen thanks to the increasingly scattered tips shared over the Internet.

Check if what has been implemented meets some requirements.

Does it satisfy the consumer? Is it responsive to change? Does it promote collaboration with the customer? Do the practices support and encourage the affected individuals? Is the work pace consistent?

If, in any of these questions, your answer was negative, it is time to re-evaluate the application and start again from the first steps.

Do you still believe that this is unnecessary work and that everything can be fixed through traditional training or targeted conversations? Then perhaps the statistics will clear your remaining doubts.

Researchers in professional development and adult learning suggest that the 70:20:10 method is the best way to learn. That is, 70% of what is absorbed happens through experience. 20% comes from meetings, and the remaining 10% from conventional training environments.

Now, learn, in the “Agile Leadership” book summary, what are the best practices to instill the revolutionary system in your everyday work environment!

The book “Agile Leadership”

In only 75 pages, spread over seven chapters, plus introduction and conclusion, “Agile Leadership”, by Alex Campbell, focuses its efforts on solving team communication and motivation challenges.

Available only in English, it was independently published in 2021.

Don't expect to find the basics of agile or the essence of scrum tactics in this book, but rather a restatement of agile principles and how to apply them to the level of your service as a leader.

Who is Alex Campbell? 

The author has specialties in the areas of programming, with a focus on the Python language, as well as agile methodologies, scrum, data visualization, and data science.

Explaining everything from the basics for beginners to more advanced concepts for application in higher positions, Alex Campbell has published over 20 books. Some specific to each of these skills, others combining them.

Why should I read “Agile Leadership”?

The name of the book already tells you in which situation it deserves your reading. If you are in a leadership position, you can revolutionize the functioning of the company or get it back on track if it is going through a disruption.

The agile part names the methodology that you need to implement in your work so that the agile frameworks  make sense.

They apply to teams that have not yet been an agile team or a scrum team, as well as to people who are new to leadership, but have already been in an agile environment.

The book is also recommended if you notice that the conception of the method is changed in the younger team members, or if you are looking for different tips about it than the ones that are already out there.

What are the key points of “Agile Leadership”?

  • Act as a Product Owner and constantly reassess  your professional approach;
  • It is better to discard dynamic systems and development methods that have modified the agile methodology;
  • You need to examine which frameworks best serve your team and for how long they will still serve you;
  • To be an agile leader is to understand that leadership is more than just making decisions about individuals and interactions;
  • Effective leadership is directly linked to learning experiences .

Download the "Agile Leadership" Book Summary in PDF for free

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Agile Leadership - Alex Campbell, PDF

What is the role of good leaders?

If a leader evaluates his staff at least annually, why wouldn't he do the same with his own skills and performance?

To help guide your self-assessment, the author determines that the agile leader has the following responsibilities:

  • Create a culture that embraces experimentation;
  • Encourage constant learning;
  • Collaborate with employees across all levels of the company;
  • Find and establish common values aligned with Agile methodology;
  • Create an organizational structure consistent with Agile principles;
  • Drive their team toward the company's greater goals.

It can be difficult, and even a bit desperate, to find yourself with such big responsibilities, so a good idea is to have mentoring relationships.

Your mentor does not even need to know the system we are working on here. They just have to be someone you have had contact with, admire, and have ideals that match what we are looking for, such as valuing people more, for example.

This is also important so that you understand what it is like to be on the learning side.

But always keep an eye on the relationship. If you reach a point where your guide just tells you exactly what to do, or, on the contrary, gives you the responsibility but does not teach you the ways, it is time to put a stop to it.

Likewise, don't think that being a scrum master your work is restricted to service functions. Mentoring someone is another way to collaborate for the evolution of the whole company.

About the precautions to be taken, do not build this relationship in a forced way under any circumstances, and here it is valid to end it if you notice that the mentee is not engaging.

Talking about how the leader plays his role in practice, he acts much more as a spokesperson, a “bridge” to the development staff, than as a manager. This translates into actions such as sharing successes, minimizing criticism, and ensuring that the team does not promise more than it can deliver.

That is why basically everything in this role comes down to having a reliable reputation.

There are also certain dynamics that the leader can implement from time to time to “shake up” the exercise of the capabilities.

From the set of skills used by the spokesperson that comes from marketing and sales practices, we have the practice of storytelling, for example, which when conducted correctly, encourages all workers to contribute creative ideas.

Finally, remember: the longer a person is in leadership, the more mistakes they will make, so make peace with them.

What are the roles of each person in the team?

First of all, answer yourself some questions about the work that your team does.

Much of the service depends on solving problems creatively? Does the project or the team itself depend on the collaboration of the end user? Is the problem or end result at least partially unknown?

If so, then you have already established that agile methodology is the most appropriate way to conduct the enterprise. Now it is time to learn how to implement it in the right way.

The core of agile methodology is employee self-management. By acting this way, performance is faster, changes are better received, and deliveries are of higher quality, with products focused on the consumer.

Naturally, the work environment changes, but the same cannot be true for the agile system. This doesn't mean that it can't be customized to better suit everyone's needs and preferences.

For example, there are tools, such as Trello, that help manage and visualize everyone's responsibilities, objectives, and goals achieved.

But if the whole point is to facilitate the process, it is better to give up or look for another more adequate tool if the learning and handling process itself is causing problems.

Still on utilities, the author recommends Slack for making contributions and discussing changes outside scheduled meetings, or the creation of a simple email account, to which people can send their concerns, questions and suggestions.

Well, if the goal is to improve the speed of processes, why implement yet another communication channel? Precisely because the teams, their interactions and meetings must be reduced, but without running the risk of letting that innovative idea slip away.

Last but very important, don't fall into the trap of the “bystander effect”, always be the one who takes the lead. Worst-case scenario, the same thing will be done twice, or the same problem notified twice.

It is better that decision makers know more about something that requires attention than that an incident goes unnoticed.

How to improve team communication?

As with any team management scheme, communication in this one is also a fundamental part.

In a self-managed system that carries speed even in its name, the difficulty of making this exchange of information is increased.

In order to reduce as much as possible the failures in this aspect, a starting point is that face-to-face conversation is always more efficient than sending emails or memos.

You may think that in this way more time is taken up, rejecting the practicalities that we have acquired over time. The point is that simplicity is also paramount. Meetings need to be limited in time so that only essential matters are brought up.

If you have difficulty specifically in how to act in conversation, the author recommends applying tricks brought up in the book “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, such as starting with a smile and a sincere and specific compliment.

Just as in any other matter at work, your chances of success are greater if there is preparation. Before every scheduled conversation, know exactly what you want to address and how you are going to do it. After, try arguing against yourself, so you can correct gaps and already know what kind of answers you can expect.

In this aspect, one of the most basic points is, of course, to know with whom you are talking. In work sets as diverse as the agile environments provide, using too many technical terms or even speaking in an oversimplified way can interfere with the quality of the debriefing.

Also, ask questions throughout the conversation about what is being said, even if it is something like “Can you tell me more about that point?”.

At the end of the meeting, identify with your interlocutor which party will be affected by the subject brought up.

All this helps to develop the same communication and problem identification skills in the employee.

When it is time to end the conversation, does that awkward silence hang over the room, or do you end up coming with an excuse, like a phone call? So, here are some magic questions that the author recommends for these moments, which are able to firm up commitment and emphasize key points:

  • Is there any action you need to do?
  • Is this something that you can cover for us?
  • Will you have time to dedicate to the matter at hand before the end of the week?
  • Was this information useful?
  • Does the recent accomplishment affect the end-user the way we planned?
  • Would you like to speak with the team about this?

Books about Agile Methodologies

To learn more about one of the most widely used agile management techniques, Scrum, what could be better than consuming directly from the co-creator himself? Not only that, he is no less than the co-author of the Agile Manifesto itself. Jeff Sutherland is the authority on the subject who guides you through the book “SCRUM”.

In “Os Segredos da Gestão Ágil”, entrepreneurs Thiago Oliveira and award-winning João Kepler bring (not only) the Agile philosophy as one of the secrets of successful modern business. In addition, they develop other tips for adapting companies to the new times, even for those who are starting their enterprise now.

What could be faster than going from a project idea to visualizing how the prototype works in the customers' view in just five days? This is what you will learn in the book “SPRINT”. Those who teach are the inventor of the method of the same name, Jake Knapp, together with John Zeratsky and Braden Kowitz.

How can I be a better leader with the book “Agile Leadership”?

  • Take some time to reflect on your qualifications;
  • Help your colleagues understand the core of agile principles;
  • Look for dynamics that develop soft skills;
  • Develop hard skills through training, yes, but mostly through practice;
  • Search for someone to learn from and someone to teach;
  • Don't define yourself by your mistakes. Revisit them after a while, to learn without the emotional charge, and reward yourself for your successes.

Rate the summary of “Agile Leadership”

Start right now to execute your leadership skills by example and self-manage what you need to evolve.

Then, already internalizing the concept of agility so highly valued here, tell us in the comments what were the most important points in your case!

To learn in more detail about the technicalities and other healthy practices to apply in your organization, click on the image below and buy the complete work, in English!

Agile Leadership - Alex Campbell