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Onboarding leaders are key in agile transformation

By Tomas Vedsmand, Partner GEMBA Innovation

In agile transformation, onboarding managers and leaders should have top priority.

Just did some Agile Leadership Training sessions and workshops for a global manufacturing company in agile transformation with focus on agile mindset, agile leadership and changing roles and responsibilities.

It confirmed me in that especially the changing role of what we often label as middle managers, such as line managers, technical managers and project managers are key in agile transformation.

Some managers change to become product owners or scrum masters, some stick to line and technical management and some may shift to other positions, for example specialists.

No matter their coming position, they need to change the way they practice management to what is needed. When agile teams are stable and mature to take decisions, the need for resource management and direct management diminish. In parallel the need for leadership, such as strategic (and technical) vision and guidance increase and so may the need for coaching of teams and individuals.

Some managers welcome this change to do more strategic leadership and coaching, whereas others are not comfortable with this new leadership style.

No matter what new roles they take, this is a ground-breaking organizational change because they are subject to change and – that is the paradox – we strongly need support from these people to make the change successfull. Line managers and technical managers are often key persons in technical domains, great networkers and experienced managers.

My lesson learned is that the faster we can create a vision for leadership in the agile organization – and describe new career paths – the faster we get their support. Many of them should even lead the change by being agile change agents.