How to lead an agile team to success in uncertain times

Given the rapid rate at which things are changing and digitisation is forcing industries to level up leaders need to adopt an agile mindset and ensure that their organisations quickly get into the agile mode or risk falling behind in the race.

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There is a popular quip doing the rounds on social-media platforms about this whole resetting thing and chances are you may have come across it, too. It asks the reader whether anyone knows how to turn off the year 2020 and turn it on again. It is accompanied by an image of a reset button. In reality, however, many things in life do not have a reset button. Given the rapid rate at which things are changing and digitisation is forcing industries to level up, many shifts have taken place in the past couple of months — from consumers’ buying behaviors to organisations re-engineering their business models. To keep pace, leaders need to adopt an agile mindset and ensure that their organisations quickly get into the agile mode or risk falling behind in the race.

Agile methods and frameworks have existed for several decades and the concept is nothing new. When you look at agile teams, they are typically associated with being in the same offices, meeting daily and undertaking necessary changes to projects as one collective team. However, the agility is evident in not only the manner of solving complex problems but also in transforming the way of working. It also requires a change in mindset, demands giving up the traditional ways of operating and learning a lot of new things on the way. Organisations that have taken this route tend to move faster by embracing collaboration, driving innovation, and optimising operations even while mitigating the risks. In fact, teams that use agile methodologies experience nearly 20 per cent higher project success rate than those who do not rely on a proven approach. In short, once you go agile there’s no looking back.

With entire teams now stationed at their homes, listening to various market needs and navigating the change can be a daunting task. So, how do you ensure the teams have an agile mindset? Most importantly, how do you lead an agile team to success? Well, here are the basic elements to build and lead your agile team.

Lay the foundation for high-performing teams

Start by transforming your methods of communication and collaboration amidst the teams working remotely. Most importantly, you will need stable internal systems and processes put in place; ones that can be clearly understood by everyone and ensure smooth day-to-day operations. Then, you need to form your teams and equip them with the necessary skill sets that get the task completed on time. To optimise your team, make sure its membership remains in the five to nine-member range. Ensure your teams are well-coordinated and collectively respond to the tasks ahead. Lastly, assign managers and scrum masters to guide the team and help improve their performance.

Create a growth-oriented environment

For your teams to perform at their best and deliver great results, as a leader, you need to provide them with context. This will be an ongoing task for you to improve things, remove any hurdles or even impediments. You also need to provide the teams with the necessary resources to avoid loss of productivity. Encourage the teams to share their wins and even failures, which will be essential learnings for everyone. To bring out the best in your teams, you also need to provide the right conditions for them to grow.

Coach your teams to success

As a leader, your role is not limited to only inspiring, but extends to providing effective coaching. Relieve yourself from a commanding role to become a mentor and coach them to collectively solve complex challenges. Avoid telling teams what to do. Instead, ask powerful questions that can open up avenues, while demonstrating empathetic listening skills.

Practice transparency in communication

One of the hallmarks of a powerful leader is effective communication. With so many pressing situations that demand a leader’s attention, having a clear communication plan is vital for success. By conducting regular meetings, you will be able to keep the team together and open communication lines. Encourage everyone to ask questions and respond to them appropriately. At times, you will need to deliver news that is not so good; do it in a way that is sensitive but at the same time gets the message across.

With an agile mindset, your organisation will be well prepared to quickly respond to changing market dynamics, turn disruptive situations into opportunities, and also manage to deliver on customers’ needs.