Agile Leadership

In our messy and agile marketing world, a new style of leadership is increasingly necessary. It's one that some may find uncomfortable and counter-intuitive. This is especially true for those who equate leadership with control. There is no question that when we know exactly what we are doing, and where we want to go (as is presumably the case, for example, in a manufacturing process), tight controls are essential. In fact, control is the very heart of good management. We get into trouble, however, when we understand leadership simply as advanced management, and therefore, if the manager controls, the leader must control absolutely. Sensitive leaders today, in a world marked by progressively expanding agile marketing, know all too well that most of what they have to deal with is beyond their control, and maybe out of control.

Leadership defined as control can only fail. But that is not the only definition. Gandhi described the leader as one who intuits which way the parade is moving, and then races to reach the head of it. The function of leadership is to provide a focal point for direction, and not to mandate and control a minute-by-minute plan of action. The details must be left to the troops, which means amongst other things, the troops must be trusted. In no case can any leader possibly solve all problems or direct all actions. Leadership in agile marketing requires that one set the direction, define and honor the space, and let go.

1 comment:

Manfred said...

Sometimes it is also helpful to distinguish between control and discipline. For example an agile leader shouldn't 'control' whether or not automated tests are written for a piece of software. However, the agile leader should encourage his team members to write those automated tests. Sometimes you may have to take a gamble in that you need to give room for mistakes so that you can help your team to learn more about the benefits of writing the tests and the pain if they were not written. My personal preference is encouraging to work disciplined instead of micro-managing or tightly controlling a team.