Get certified - Transform your world of work today


Agile Leadership

The Workhorse

2 June 2016

I am grateful that I participate in leadership assessments in the roles I've served in as a ScrumMaster and product owner. Every year, I need to know how I'm doing as a person, no matter what position I serve. I am continuously taking my own inventory and embracing change. Assessing myself as well as asking others to provide feedback gives me a clearer picture of how far I've come and where I need to go to continue to be the best leader/servant I can be. I'm going to share with you the high-level valuable insights I've gained through my experience; perhaps they can help you with a similar self-assessment process.

Overall, I rated myself more harshly than how others saw me. I think that I am harder on myself because I don't want to rest on my laurels. I see myself as climbing, resting, or sliding down a mountain of personal growth. I can rest and celebrate my growth every so often but not stay resting; otherwise, I start to slide down.

Current status: The balance of a leader is important, and I think I'm working toward the middle to be successful. Mind you, I am a 4-H leader, so I discuss balance as it relates to animals. The lion is on the left, representing the lion heart, with a strong task focus. The lamb is on the right, with strong relationship focus. The workhorse is in the middle of the balance pendulum, with both the best of the lion and the lamb characteristics. I related my assessment to where I'm working to be (the workhorse). I am working toward the middle.

Creative (Lamb)

The scale is from 1 to 5 (1 = Not Creative to 5 = Very Creative). The higher numbers mean a positive rating. Overall, I rated myself above average, but not perfect. Evaluators rated me higher. In comparison to the "Norm," I rated myself about average. Evaluators rated me higher. The characteristics below make up the profile. I've noticed that most of the time, others see me as someone who is much more effective than I see myself.
  1. Relate: Relate to others in a way that brings out the best in people
    • Caring connection: Ability to care. I care too much sometimes.
    • Foster team play: Ability to foster high-performing teams.
    • Collaborator: Ability to include all and find common ground.
    • Mentor and develop: Ability to grow.
    • Interpersonal intelligence: Ability to be effective and deal with conflict.
  2. Self-awareness: Ability to show self-awareness through high integrity
    • Selfless leader: Ability to be of service over self-interest and give credit where credit is due. I want my actions to show more selflessness.
    • Balance: Ability to keep a healthy balance between work and personal life, handling stress well.
    • Composure: Ability to stay calm during conflict.
    • Personal learner: Ability to show continuous learning and growth; self-awareness; remain teachable.
  3. Authenticity: Ability to relate to others with authenticity and courage; being "present" with people
    • Integrity: Ability to "walk the talk" and congruency of actions with words.
    • Courageous authenticity: Willingness to discuss risks and find solutions; learning to know when to assertively confront and find healthy solutions, walk away, or just listen; battling fear and the urges for fight, flight, or freeze.
  4. Systems awareness: Degree to which you see the whole picture of productivity
    • Community concern: Service extends to community and beyond, especially for 4-H, Future Farmers of America youth groups, and young professionals in the hope of activating positive change.
    • Sustainable productivity: Ability to show results that build effectiveness; balancing resources for high performance.
    • Systems thinker: Degree to which you think, make decisions, and act from a whole perspective and long-term success. Instead of having a point of view, have points to view.
  5. Achieving: Degree to which you offer visionary, authentic, and high leadership value
    • Strategic focus: Think and plan strategically to build the organization's success.
    • Purposeful and visionary: Clearly communicate and show commitment to personal purpose and vision.
    • Achieve results: Degree of goal directed, achievement, and high performance.
    • Decisiveness: Ability to make decisions on time; comfortably move forward in an atmosphere of uncertainty.

Leadership effectiveness and balance (Workhorse)

The scale is from 1 to 5 (1 = Ineffective to 5 = Very Effective). The higher numbers mean a positive rating. In comparison to the "Norm," I rated myself a little lower than average, mostly because I really don't see how my leadership affects others or if I'm making a positive difference in the workforce or community. Evaluators rated me higher and more effective than the Norm. This surprised me, but I was grateful.

Reactive (Lion)

The scale is from 1 to 5 (1 = Not Reactive to 5 = Very Reactive). The lower numbers mean a positive rating. Overall, I rated myself lower than average, which can be a good thing. Evaluators rated me even lower. So, I am thankfully less controlling, critical, and passive than I thought.

The following characteristics make up the lion profile.
  1. Controlling: Personal worth through task accomplishment and achievement; learning to be a human being and not a human doing
    • Perfect: Need to be flawless to feel secure/worthwhile; succeeding beyond expectations.
    • Driven: Need to be in overdrive; worth and security depend on constant hard work; balanced and positive work ethic.
    • Ambition: Need to get ahead, move up, be better than others, self-centered, competitive, furthering healthy personal progress. (Work on self-centeredness and selfishness; do not stop working on self and achieve a healthy personal growth. Get ahead and move up to make a difference and "transform the world of work and bring fun back to the workplace" (Scrum Alliance) for teams, the company, and the Department of Defense to be more effective and successful in their missions.) 
    • Autocratic: Tendency to be forceful, aggressive, controlling, dominant, invulnerable, taking all the credit, exercise self-control, and strong. Let go; not be selfish, controlling, or dominant.
  2. Protecting: Protecting self; withdrawn, distant, hidden, aloof, cynical, superior, and rational; let go of the need to be superior, cynical, and critical of others. Be more open and yet not too candid at the wrong times, and with unhealthy people; and learning discernment.
    • Arrogance: Project large ego; superior, egotistical, self-centered. Unhealthy pride is the biggest enemy.
    • Critical: Critical, questioning, and cynical attitude.
    • Distance: Withdrawn, being superior, aloof, and emotionally distant. Be "present" for others as a person and a leader.
  3. Complying: Complying with expectations and not acting on your own. Make sure motives are positive, and act because of your own choices.
    • Passive: Give power to others; efforts don't make much difference; lacking power to create own future. Choose one's own future and stop giving away your own power.
    • Belonging: Need to conform, follow rules, meet expectations of authority, go along to get along. Stand up for yourself and others.
    • Pleasing: Seek others' approval to feel secure/worthy. Deliberately choose actions based on one's own path, not the approval of others.
    • Conservative: Follows procedures and rules without question. Some people either don't question enough and follow rules blindly or don't follow rules and cross lines that shouldn't be crossed. Find a balance.

Opportunities for growth

I thought I was more balanced between achieving tasks and handling relationships, and yet I can see how others view that I'm more people focused and not task focused. I have more balance work to do in that area. The following shows areas I need to focus on to become a more balanced servant leader.

Connecting in caring ways

I need to be careful of being too much of a friend at work. I can improve by setting and maintaining healthier boundaries. I must also thank and praise others. Also, knowing when to tell my silly puns is the key and not to interrupt people.

Balancing self-awareness

I must keep working at achieving balance between my personal life and work environment. Setting and maintaining boundaries is still one of the lessons I keep working on. I need to stop being too critical and demanding of myself. I need to also exercise more and eat more healthfully.

Being courageous

I must keep working at walking my talk, especially in teaching Agile methods. I also need to work on staying true to my values and being tougher by maintaining boundaries when facing hard issues openly. I am afraid of offending others though, so I need to continue to learn how to be assertive and negotiate more effectively.

Maintaining sustainable productivity

I will continue to promote, teach, and practice Agile principles and show how this benefits the customer and the company. I plan to stay true to my path in becoming a Certified Scrum Trainer®, and keep coaching people and teams to transform our company and long-term business. I want to get away from fighting fires most of the time by applying my organizational skills, and being able to better read people for their capabilities.

Achieving strategic focus

I don't always communicate Program Performance in ways that leadership needs. I can improve by finding out exactly what they want and communicate appropriately.

I have also taken risks before I evaluated the consequences. I need to evaluate first before taking the risks. I have relied on gut feelings or hunches too much or been too analytical and don't take action. It would help if I know more about the strategic plans of the company or branch I work with. Then I could better plan and guide teams within my reach.

I must write my goals in measurable ways so that I can review them and achieve them. I need to nurture other growing leaders to build supporting managers and technical leaders. I am doing this through 10- to 20-minute training sessions during stand-ups, as well as at the beginning of my staff call (Scrum of Scrum) meetings.

Controlling perfectionism and ambition

I still am a perfectionist at times. I will work on not being so critical of myself by looking at how far I've come and ask for quarterly feedback from my team. I must also delegate more, even if I feel guilty doing it.

I think I am on overdrive, but others see me as unaffected and calm. I will work on showing with calm resolve that I am dedicated. I also have a hard time relaxing. I'm afraid of becoming lazy. It's a struggle for me to have balance in this area. I have taken on too much, but Agile estimating practices have helped me in this area.

I want to be successful and keep growing, as well as develop workers and the company to serve better. I must work on sharing credit more. I need to talk less and develop teamwork more. I will work on walking my talk more. I have compared my insides to other people's outsides. I will work on just looking at how far I've come.

Practicing humility

I must remember to talk and practice humility! I tend to say things that show my ego when I know things. I must remember to ask questions more and involve others more. I need to curb my "me" stories when relating to others and try not to attract attention to myself. I need to listen more and ask more Socratic questions.

Balancing compliance

I must work on perfecting my balance. I sometimes follow rules and procedures without question or don't always follow procedures and rules. Some procedures and rules should remain uncrossed while others need to be rewritten to assist the workforce. I will practice more on not crossing those rules, or at least ask why they exist and request solutions if they become obstacles. Procedures and rules are here to support the people, not that the people support the procedures and rules. To practice Agile, I must continue to encourage and practice creating outside the box.

My goals

  1. Support all business-development applicable opportunities with coaching the Agile framework, team building, sharing experience of intelligence, modeling, and simulation, software sustainment, and Agile project and program management.
  2. Practice the Agile endeavor of delivering early and often for all future work. Continue on my path to becoming a Certified Scrum Trainer® (CST®). Remember, "Comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable!" (Anon)

Opinions represent those of the author and not of Scrum Alliance. The sharing of member-contributed content on this site does not imply endorsement of specific Scrum methods or practices beyond those taught by Scrum Alliance Certified Trainers and Coaches.

Article Rating

Current rating: 4.5 (4 ratings)


Marc Rader, CSM, 6/7/2016 9:31:51 AM
This appears to me to be an essay on situational leadership. I think we would all like to work in an environment where the lamb is most prevelent as a leadership medaphor. This a sign of a well functioning team. However, the lion needs to show up every now and then so that all involved know that the leader can have teeth when need. When the lion sheppards the sheep and protects them from the wolves, then the team becomes stronger.

Many of us have very similar opportunities for growth. Putting them in writing helps both you and me. I inted to print that part of the article out an post it near my desk. One note. . .Striving for perfection is not a problem when you admit that you will settle for excellence.

You must Login or Signup to comment.

The community welcomes feedback that is constructive and supportive, in the spirit of better understanding and implementation of Scrum.


Newsletter Sign-Up