insight
Agile
By: Sagar Sharma

What are the Key Roles and Traits of a Leader in an Agile Software Development Company?

Agile teams are also known as, self-managed team or self-organized teams. People often derive a false conclusion that agile teams don’t require a leader to lead. Well, that is not entirely true. Agile teams do need a leader similar to any other teams. Leaders of an Agile software development company have greater responsibility and ownership of their team members.

If every leader including Agile leaders is responsible for their team members, then, what is the difference between an Agile leader and other leaders? The simple answer to this question is that the Scrum Alliance certifies an Agile Leader while others are not. Apart from “the certificate,” there are significant differences between them. To identify the key differences, one needs to understand the roles and responsibilities of an Agile leader.

Key Roles and Responsibilities of an Agile Leader

1. Build High-performing Teams

It is the most crucial role of an Agile leader. He/She needs to build a team that is of appropriate size, capable of end-to-end delivery of a product, highly dedicated, long-standing, and self-organizing.

2. Eliminate Handovers

A leader in an Agile software development company must understand the risk of project handovers and must try to reduce or if possible eliminate them. To avoid handovers, they must build a cross-functional team.

3. Bring Focus in Team Members

For a software development project to achieve success, it is crucial that the team members are focused on the goal. Agile leaders must create small and efficient teams to maintain the focus of all the team members.

4. Protect the Team Members

An Agile leader must protect their team members from the agile-antibodies, i.e. internal politics, internal fights, bureaucracy, etc. They must create a so-called Ozone layer around them.

5. Remove Organizational Blockages

Every organization has its flaws which make the team members slow and lazy to work. For example, overburdening someone with work, assigning them multiple projects at a time, undermine the work of team members, providing unrealistic deadlines, etc. can be discouraging to the team members. A good team leader must remove all the necessary frictions.

6. Establish a Productive Environment

Almost every agile software development company has collaboration rooms where team members can come together and discuss issues face-to-face which helps them to know who is working on what. It helps them to improve collaboration and work faster.

7. Update HR Functions Based on Agile

Whenever an organization is proclaimed as “Agile,” it means that every department of that organization follows principles of Agile. Hence, a leader should make sure that various HR operations such as hiring staff, performance reviews, job descriptions and rewards are aligned with the principles of Agile.

8. Get the Work Done Across Silos

Although agile teams are self-organized, a leader must ensure that the team members are collaborating across the silos and not just within themselves. This way they can achieve maximum productivity.

9. Coach Agile Team Members

One of the core responsibilities of an agile leader is to remove roadblocks from the way of team members. So, if a team member is stuck somewhere in the project, it is the responsibility of a leader to solve their problem by consulting them.

10. Establish Listening Skills Among the Team

Empathetic listening is the key to faster problem-solving. Agile teams can improve the speed of Software development by listening to the problems of one another and helping them to resolve it.

11. Set High Expectations From Team Members

Setting high expectations does not mean to over-burden the team members. An Agile Leader must train and mentor the team members to achieve new horizons.

12. Help Team Members to Recover Faster from a Failure

It is inevitable to avoid failures in software development. A leader must act as a failsafe that would help team members to recover faster from their failure.

Traits of an Agile Leader

1. Stay Calm

The business environment is filled with unrealistic expectations and pressure. An Agile Leader must know how to stay in the moment, prioritize his/her tasks and manage stress by controlling emotions and increasing awareness.

2. Always Empower Team Members

A leader in an Agile software development company must always empower their team members by being swift and responsive in attending their queries and solving their problems.

3. Believes in Experimentation

There is no perfect style of leadership. Hence, an Agile leader must always be experimental in implementing new strategies for managing software development projects and agile teams.

4. Never Ever Panics

A good leader never panics and always pivots by focusing on agility, risk mitigation, and innovation. An Agile Leader must think swiftly and clearly to overcome every surprise that comes in their way.

5. Never Fears the Failure

One of the core responsibilities of a leader, to make the organization thrive, is by creating an environment where innovation is welcomed, and team members are allowed to fail and then get up again.

6. Nurture their EI (Emotional Intelligence)

The job a leader is no less than a salesperson. They must be good at maintaining relationships with their team members. To deliver great software a leader must actively listen, provide feedback and collaborate with team members.

7. Highly Flexible

Success comes only when a leader is flexible. A leader must always be ready to change their leadership style, relationships with other team members, etc. whenever needed. They must always respond to the feedback received from others.

8. Masters of Decision Making

There is no formal education provided by any institutions on Masters of decision making yet; it is something a leader must pursue. A leader must make all the decisions faster and by analyzing the situation and keeping their emotions at par. This can only come with continuous learning and gathering information from everywhere.

9. Learns from Mistakes

Having been making thousands of decisions a day, it is evident that we make mistakes. But, only a true agile leader analyzes his/her error from the inside out and evolve from it.

10. Growth Mindset

An agile leader must always look forward and think about the growth of his/her team and the agile software development company by learning from their past mistakes and mitigating the chances of getting failed the similar way again.

Verdict

By looking at the roles and traits of an Agile leader, it is clear that the job of a leader in an Agile software development company is to respond to the problems of his/her team promptly. It is not expected from an agile leader to have all the answers but, it is undoubtedly expected from his teams to have them. Agile teams are known to beat the status quo and work productively.

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