The agile way of work requires, first of all, a change of mindset. At the beginning of an agile transformation, the new leadership principles seem unusual and perhaps incomprehensible. One of the key reasons is also the current leadership style.
Traditional leadership requires the leader to know everything. The way in which the position of leader is reached is one of the main reasons why this is so. An individual who has the best results and stands out with his communication skills is the best candidate for a leader. He is usually the best at everything. He knows the product best, he presents it best, he stands out with ideas. This makes him the best candidate for a traditional leader. Very often such employees become leaders. They are given the task of leading people. They build authority primarily through knowledge, and they are the real role models here. Emotional intelligence is simply taken for granted in this section.
It is not rare that after some time in the position of leader it happens that a team member asks a question to which the leader does not know the answer. This creates a clear line between traditional and agile leadership.
In traditional leadership, a leader will do everything so that members of his team do not notice that he does not know something. We usually have two reactions to evident stress.
First, there will be anxiety in the leader, because in that way his identity is endangered. “If I don’t know how to answer the question asked by a team member, then what kind of leader am I? Am I worthy of this position? What will I look like in the eyes of my people now?”
Second, some kind of quiet anger can occur, which can manifest itself even through some conflict situation or a sharper reaction to a member of your team. “How come you don’t know that? And why do you even ask me such things?”
You guess, answers like this will further increase the insecurity of a team member and it is very likely that they will not ask any more questions. Unconsciously, the leader closed the door of the zone of his next development. Or maybe consciously?
When it comes to agile leadership, the leader looks forward to every question. It is a sure sign to him that a member of his team is curious. Curiosity is one of the key qualities needed to develop a safe environment in which everyone learns and thrives. This question also draws the leader’s attention to the fact that there is room for his development as well. That is why it is not a problem for him to say, not to admit, not to know something. A leader knows and can come up with an answer very quickly. He shares the answer transparently with his team and they all grow and develop together. In this way, team members are encouraged to ask, even more, they are motivated to learn and make progress.
For the very end, we wrote about the agile leadership principle, lead yourself first. When a leader has no problem with his ego, and the organization in which he works nurtures an agile way of work, he constantly feels an insatiable hunger for knowledge. He passes it on to his team, encouraging them to ask and learn. A team that feels psychological security is a team that gives maximum results and team members are maximally motivated.