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Three Traits of an Agile Manager

An agile organization needs managers who can receive and quickly respond to feedback from customers, peers, and team members. Some managers will be unable to adapt to an agile culture while others will be quite successful. It has been my experience that successful agile managers will have the following traits.

  • Organization

In a fast-paced, adaptive environment a manager receives a barrage of information from multiple sources – email, texts, meetings, wikis, etc. The manager must have an innate sense of organization to ensure that information does not “fall between the cracks.” A successful manager will build and continually refine a system for managing information. The type of system used is less important than the manager’s desire to organize.

  • Discipline

In a dynamic environment, it is easy to give in to the temptation to follow each “bright shiny object” that comes into view. A successful manager must have the ability to distinguish between what is important and what is interesting and the discipline to focus only on the important. The manager must also have the discipline to honor commitments and thereby instill the same discipline in the team.

  • Emotional Maturity

An agile culture promotes face-to-face communication, and that communication can sometimes be unpleasant. The new feature does not meet the customer’s expectations. Priorities have changed – again. A developer fails to meet a commitment. A successful manager must have the maturity to control his own emotions and deal with issues calmly, objectively, and professionally.

You may be thinking that these are traits that ANY manager should have – agile or not. And you would be right. However, it is possible for a manager to be successful in a traditional organization without all three traits. In an agile organization, all are required.

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