Exploring Leadership Traits

I went yesterday to our local Agile group meeting. Selena Delesie was the speaker. Her own consulting business has evolved in recent years from Agile coaching and software testing. It is now more about leadership to create modern, enlightened workplaces. So, she led the conversation about how anyone, at any organizational level, can exhibit leadership behaviours.

Selena told us there are many leadership traits, but gave us five important ones to consider in this session:

  • courage
  • commitment
  • curiosity
  • connection
  • class

In the first round of discussion, each round table group had a discussion to define one of the five by example. When someone exhibits commitment, what does it look like? What do you observe?

One of my discussion mates had a manager who faced a dilemma familiar to many. His team had to do its work, but also needed to learn how to do it better. Under the usual pressures from customers and stakeholders, the former usually wins. But this manager had the courage to say, “we’re going to do both” and “I take the responsibility for this risk.” He took the “both” attitude while his peers settled for “either-or.”

Another table discussed curiosity and someone put “why does it work?” on the flip chart, resonating with me. The convenient, lazy, “it worked for me” language can be heard often in companies. “Here’s how we did it in my previous company and it worked for us.” It takes a curious leader to lead the inquiry by asking “why did (does) it work?”

In the second round of discussion, each table had to pick one particular practice (my table choose Daily Meeting) and discuss: how would this practice be affected by the presence and the absence of each of the above five leadership qualities? The people at my discussion table reflected mostly on their teams’ Scrum practices and compiled lists of positives on the left and negatives on the right.

Now, if you know me, I’m a coach and trainer from the school of thought that departed from the three-question team stand-up a long time ago. Our approach avoids the dysfunctions of the three questions and makes the daily meeting faster, more engaging, and can induce multiple acts of leadership within minutes. So, I asked my discussion group what would they change in your daily meetings to diminish the negatives on the right and increase the positives on the left?

One of them answered, our behaviours result from the rules we have for our daily meetings. We could tweak the rules.

That was a good answer.

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