POETIC Leadership Enables Lean-Agile Leadership, Part Two: Emotional and Team Thinking

This is the second in a three-part series of articles covering the POETIC Leadership approach to Lean-Agile leadership, authored by Alex Gray, a Lean Agile Practice Lead at Cprime. Click below to visit Parts One and Three:

In the first article of this series, we discussed why organizations that wish to employ Lean-Agile methods must promote a culture that supports that way of working. And, we began discussing what that culture looks like and how they can develop it—first on a personal level, then organizationally.

We recommend reviewing that article first, if you haven’t already, to get some context for what we’ll be discussing in this article: the emotional and team thinking components of the POETIC Leadership model.

E – Emotional

Emotion should not rule decision making, especially for leaders. However, it would be detrimental to overlook the importance of how emotion plays into productivity, employee engagement, and operational effectiveness. Hence the emphasis placed on Emotional Intelligence in recent years. In developing a culture that supports Lean-Agile ways of working, an effective leader will focus on fostering deep respect for people, emotional empathy, and psychological safety.

Deep Respect For People

Emotional Leaders have a deep respect for people, which in turn creates a positive and supportive working environment and a culture of trust and collaboration within the organization.

Having emotional awareness sends a message that leaders value the contributions and the perspectives of each individual. This can help to build trust and rapport, and make employees feel valued and supported.

Deep respect for people can also help leaders create more inclusive and diverse workplaces, and to foster a sense of belonging among employees. This can lead to increased job satisfaction, improved morale and better performance.

Emotional Empathy

Effective leaders show emotional empathy, which is the ability to understand and share the emotions of others. It requires them to recognize the emotional state of another person and to respond to that emotion in a way that is appropriate and helpful.

People who have high levels of emotional empathy are often good at making others feel understood and supported, and can build strong emotional connections with others. This can be a valuable skill for leaders as it can help them build trust and rapport with their team members and create a positive, supportive working environment.

Psychological Safety

Leaders with strong emotional intelligence create a workplace and environment that embodies psychological safety.

Psychological safety refers to a workplace environment in which individuals feel comfortable expressing themselves and their ideas without fear of retribution or negative consequences. This type of environment is typically characterized by trust, respect and inclusiveness, and it allows the team members to take risks and make mistakes without fear of being punished or ostracized.

Psychological safety is important because it really allows team members to fully engage with their work and to contribute their best ideas and efforts. It also improves collaboration, encourages creativity, and improves overall performance within the team and the organization.

T – Team thinking

Another aspect of effective leadership in a Lean-Agile environment is a mindset that revolves around the team as a unit, in addition to the individuals who make it up. This involves both the leader’s attitude and thought process and that of the team members themselves. Factors to consider include team motivation, team ownership, decentralization of decision making, and a focus on long-lived teams.

Team Motivation

Team Thinking leaders understand the value of creating and motivating teams. Agile teams are typically self-motivated, autonomous, and take responsibility for the work they’re doing. However, there are a few ways that a leader can motivate the team and help them stay engaged and committed to the work.

First, leaders should provide clear goals and objectives, and regularly communicate with team members about their progress towards meeting those goals. This can help team members to stay focused and motivated, and to understand how their work contributes to the overall success of the organization.

Leaders should recognize and reward the contributions of team members towards team goals. This can include praising individuals for their hard work and achievements, and providing opportunities for professional development and growth.

Overall, the key to motivating agile teams is to provide the support and resources they need to own their work, and to recognize and reward their contributions to the success of the organization.

Team Ownership

Team Thinking Leaders need to help create team ownership.

Team ownership refers to the idea that the team handles all aspects of product development from start to finish. This includes defining goals and objectives, developing roadmaps and strategies to achieve those goals, and taking ownership of the work to complete the product.

Team ownership is important because it allows teams to become flexible and adaptable, to respond quickly to challenges and changes, and to promote the ongoing need for collaboration within the team. This helps build trust and rapport among the team members.

To foster a sense of team ownership, leaders should encourage team members to take on leadership roles at all levels and to make decisions about their work. Leaders should provide the needed support and resources, and create an environment in which the team members feel valued. This can help build a strong sense of ownership and can then lead to improved performance and more successful outcomes.

Decentralized Decision Making

Leaders who employ Team Thinking also need to embrace decentralized decision-making. Not all decisions need to be made by leaders. Often, the teams and the team members closest to the situation have more knowledge and expertise to decide. Leaders need to create clear goals, objectives, guidelines, and frameworks for decision-making.

Decentralized decision-making can help to create more agile and responsive organizations, which leads to improved performance and more successful outcomes and can empower teams. This doesn’t mean the team makes all decisions, but they should make those that are frequent and where the teams have the best knowledge and understanding.

Long Lived Teams

Team Thinking leaders need to understand the value of long-lived teams. In Lean-Agile organizations, we aim to have long-lived teams working on long-lived products.

Long-lived teams are really valuable because they can help organizations save time and money by reducing the need to constantly form and disband teams for different work. It can lead to more consistent and high-quality outcomes as team members become more familiar with each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and can work together more efficiently.

Furthermore, long-lived teams can provide a sense of stability and support for team members, which can lead to improved morale and job satisfaction. This, in turn, leads to better retention of top talent, and more committed and engaged employees.

Overall, long-lived teams can provide organizations with several benefits, including improved collaboration, decision-making cost savings, and increased job satisfaction amongst their team members.

Join us again for the third and final article in this series where we’ll discuss the last two aspects of POETIC Leadership: Intelligent and Curious.

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Alex Gray, Lean Agile Practice Lead & Certified Scrum Trainer®
Alex Gray, Lean Agile Practice Lead & Certified Scrum Trainer®