Maria Matarelli Blogs

Friday, March 15, 2013

Agile Management and the Essence of Leadership

Where does a Manager do in Agile? Have you ever heard this question?

Johanna Rothman talked on “Agile Managers: The Essence of Leadership” as a closing Keynote presentation at the Agile Indy 2013 conference.

She talked about how Agile Management is Leadership and that managers serve the people in the organization. Managers guide, coach, and use their influence to ease the way for the work.

Agile Managers are Leaders because they lead the teams in the following ways
- set strategy
- manage the project portfolio
- remove organization obstacles
- build trusting relationships with people
- lead hiring decisions and process
- build the capacity of the organization
- enable communities of practice

Agile Managers manage the project portfolio and determine what work is strategically important and when it should be started and stopped. Not making those decisions or having clear priorities creates management debt as well as chaos. We want to encourage transparency and openness and honesty. Leaders remove organizational obstacles and build trust across the organization.

Johanna encouraged more of a team approach and management style instead of focusing on individual reviews.
- Build a trusting relationship
- Share the strategy
- Share the profits
- Provide cost of living raises to the team
- Give the team a team bonus and let the team decide how to use it

What keeps people in a job? Trusting relationships and having a sense of purpose, trust, and autonomy.

Managers can become champions throughout the organization. Resist the urge to micromanage, meet often enough with people one-on-one to build a trusting relationship, and engage with team members to see what they are working on.

Managers can also build organizational capacity. How many of you know your organizational velocity now? Focus on removing system obstacles and recognizing when a team’s velocity is stuck – remove roadblocks.

Enable Communities of Practice. Encourage a small world network approach to problem solving. Create avenues for cross team collaboration.

“The manager’s function is not to make people work, but to make it possible for people to work.” – Tom DeMarco & Timothy Lister in the book “Peopleware” 


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  2. I would say that a PMP is highly respected within both IT & non-IT communities where strong project management skills are required. If you plan on a long term career as a project manager, then yes, even with your level of experience, I would suggest getting your PMP. You can prepare yourself for the exam in one of the leading training providers like . You can do minimal prep-work to get 40 PMI® Contact Hours and apply to PMI for PMP Exam before the class begins.

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