6 Ways to Support Your Agile Teams

agile leadership decision-making

By Ryan Fullmer

Jun 29, 2022

Leadership is either a barrier or enabler for agile teams. Leading in an agile environment requires a change from the traditional leadership approach. Rather than using authority and control, you enable self-organization and empowerment.

Leading in a New Way

Agile teams take responsibility for some areas traditionally handled by leaders. 

  • Deciding what the team will work on
  • Supporting team processes and dynamics
  • Deciding how to get the work done
  • Identifying and taking actions to improve

In an agile environment, leaders shift their focus to supporting the teams while not getting in their way. Leading is not about having all the answers or telling others what to do. It’s about supporting, guiding and empowering others. You move the authority down to the people closest to the work. They have the skills and knowledge. You trust them to make the right call and do the right thing.

Six Things You Can Do

Let’s take a look at six ways you can support your agile teams.

  1. Provide Clarity
    • Provide clarity to purpose, intent, and direction. Define outcomes and success measures and provide guidance on priorities. This provides the team with a common understanding of what’s most important.
  2. Empower Teams
    • Give decision-making authority and responsibility to the people closest to the work. Empower teams and individuals to figure out how to achieve the goals and get the work done.
  3. Encourage Learning
    • Create a learning environment. Growth is only achieved through learning. Support experimentation and skill development. Make it safe to fail. Shift from finding blame to seeing failure as an opportunity to learn.
  4. Foster Collaboration
    • Share information openly and encourage transparency. Break-down knowledge silos and support collaborative relationships. Focus on building engagement and hearing from different perspectives. Lead collaborative meetings and help others do the same.
  5. Address Impediments
    • Listen to the voice of the teams. Take action when they identify impediments that are beyond their ability to solve. Observe the system and gather data. Collaborate with teams to apply system thinking. Identify and address the root causes of the issues.
  6. Develop Skills
    • Support individuals and teams in reaching their full potential. Work with them to create development plans to address knowledge and skill gaps. Support growth across the organization, developing and growing other leaders.

Make and Impact

It takes everyone to create a healthy environment. You can make a big impact by doing your part. Start developing these new mindsets and behaviors. Talk with your teams to understand what supports they need. Support your agile teams in the new ways of working and enable their success.

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