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Diary of a Leader vol. 3

Mirror, mirror on the wall…

 

Last time you left me in an unenviable situation of making my kids learn how to appreciate their free time with less technical distractions. Hello Sisyphus! 😉

In the light of the Certified Agile Leadership Course I took recently, I was so inspired that I had to try and implement some of the newly acquired skills.😊

To my kids, I want to be a good role model, a leader of change. To do that, I needed to change myself, which is always more or less challenging, but I had solid motives so it couldn’t be that difficult, right?

When it came to my children, it took a lot of persuasion, negotiation and compromise to reach the point where we can say that we share a common goal.😊

I used praise, a reward system, patience and a lot of explanation so that they can understand why is it important to have rich and healthy free time, in addition to tech devoted time that I believe also deserves to exist.

I’m aware that this is constant work, especially in this digital era, but we’ve laid a good foundation and we will go from there – step by step, day by day.

 

For an Agile Leader, it is always good to have an open mind and a desire to improve

 

…so I saw a new challenge on the horizon.

My husband and I have struggled a lot with how to influence on our boys to have good relationship with one another. They are bickering constantly, and it was a good opportunity to help them explore other options.

So, once we defined the area that needs improvement, we decided to visualize our goal – to have our children have a supportive and caring relationship with each other or to put it simple –  to get along.

The next thing was to set a timeframe, let’s say a week for a first phase.

Each child needed to list 5 situations (one per each feeling) that make them feel angry, sad, happy, disappointed and accepted by the actions of the other one.

Most of us react to a situation immediately, without taking time to think about the results of our actions. With our children, we decided to introduce some role-playing to practice the skill of stopping and thinking in different situations. Our goal was to encourage our children to stop and think before reacting. We also wanted them to learn to observe their behaviour and to take responsibility for their actions. So we used reflection.

 

Reflection is the most important tool for becoming a good or great leader

 

Reflection is what a mirror does. A mirror can show us in most cases where the real problem lies and it shows us the only thing that we can really change in life – ourselves.  So, by seeing themselves in the other one and observing their behaviour and reactions in others can lead them to really want to change something and work on themselves.

After several phases – denial, exaggeration, anger, tears, laughter and acceptance they learnt on their own skin what effect their actions have on others and they really wanted to be better.

So, the next phase was to pick a behaviour they want to change and work on that. We named the feeling we want to change with a new feeling we want to create. For example, if my older son always get to choose a cartoon for a family movie night, it makes the younger one feel less worthy and neglected. We want to change that feeling to accepted and valued. So, the most important thing that a leader can ask themselves in this situation when something needs to be changed is – how did I create this, how can I take responsibility for this to fix it?

So, the change starts from us, from within, from introspection. Think about that the next time you are unhappy, moody, angry and just look in the mirror. The answers are there.

 

Jelena Milanović


Changing the world very often starts in ourselves by changing our perspectives and thoughts about each aspect of our life. The change is good and desirable. Leadership helps us to understand some crucial truths that are so valuable in modern business. If you wanna discover how leadership works join us on the upcoming Certified Agile Leadership Course (10th – 11th May) with exceptional Olaf Lewitz.

What do you say: when is the right time for a change?

Diary of a Leader Vol. 2

I don’t know about you, but I like to see a representative of something promote what they represent. I’ll explain. How many times have you changed a dentist because they had bad teeth, or a nutritionist who was 15 pounds overweight, or you changed a hairdresser because their hair looked messy and neglected? Credibility is a very important thing, and a part of credibility is a visual representation of what you stand for.

I recently found myself in a role of a participant on a certified course, which was a new role for me because I am usually a host at these courses.

The course left me impressed or as many would say “fulfilled my expectations”, but after the course, I asked myself a question:

 

What now?

 

When you gain new knowledge that is not your primary business, if you’re not using it in practice, it is highly likely that you will forget it after some time. How do you gain experience and routine in something you don’t do regularly but don’t want to give up?

The course I’m talking about was the Certified Agile Leadership and I mentioned more about the course in my last text here. The course starts from the idea that we are all born leaders. Therefore, we all have an excellent starting point to put the acquired knowledge from training into practice, even if we do not use it in our jobs every day.

Another thing that is a part of the course is working on oneself. Each of us has the potential, abilities and skills to lead our own lives, even the lives of other people, such as parents who use their example to encourage, stimulate, help their children to become independent people. But as with any change, the first spark needs to starts from you. If you want to achieve something and you want others to follow you, you need to be the first one to switch the light for others to follow you, trust you because they see that you yourself believe in what you represent.

Since a family can be seen as a small team, I decided to apply what I learnt in my own backyard, so to speak. The first question I asked myself was:

 

What I want to achieve?

 

I want to be a good role model for my children and a person they will look up to and turn to when they have a challenge or when they want to share successes.

So, we go back to self-work. In order to be a role model for someone and to be able to expect someone to follow and share my vision and goals, I have to set an example myself. My first goal is for my kids to spend less time on their phones. Well, now comes the hard part. To explain to children that phones are not a substitute for socializing, playing and leisure, I should first stop using the phone myself for those purposes. The so-called Catch 22 😊 But I can do it (I guess). The first thing I did is to timebox the time spent on the phone – after work, I limited myself to use the phone no longer than an hour. Oh boy, I couldn’t believe how quickly an hour can pass! I must admit that I cheated several times with the words: “Just this one thing…”, but I had a clear goal, so there was no room for giving up. Stumbling is there to help us grow and empower us to go steadier on the way to the goal.

The next step was to stop using phones at the weekends. I crossed that step much easier because we usually spend weekends outside in nature.  So, since I tested the steps and stayed alive, I was ready for the next step – to gather the team, share my vision and to define our mutual steps together. I left that new challenge for the next week, so keep your fingers crossed, because every change first encounters resistance, rebellion and finally acceptance. See you at the finish line!

 

Jelena Milanović, Agile Serbia team

Diary of a Leader Vol. 1

„We’re following the leader, the leader, the leader…“

 

I’ve been humming this song for a couple of days now and I can’t put my finger on why.

I haven’t seen this Disney movie in ages, and being a girl, Peter Pan syndrome is not the first thing that crosses my mind.

I’ve been doing some self-search recently and I realized that our brain is the most complex organ in our body. Sometimes we have thoughts, actions, feelings that seem out of the blue, but when you dig deeper into it you find out that our brain has its logic that can be fascinating and a bit scary sometimes.

 

 

 

 

 So, what’s with this song? 😊 

 

At work, we are in the middle of our training and certification ride and we are fastening our seatbelts tighter since the dates are approaching.

One of the very important roles that we are trying to bring closer to our community is a role of a leader.

I told you – our brains are fascinating 😊

 

Let me shed some more lights on this connection.

 

Leadership is making a difference with intention

 

We have a children’s book character Peter Pan who leads a group of others who are called „Lost boys“. With his charisma, fearless attitude, mischievous and playful manner he persuades more children to follow him. He even got a real fairy to blindly and devotedly follow him to the point where she almost lost her wings protecting him.  Ok,  we shouldn’t go that far, but I am sure that you have come across some people in real life who are charismatic and who are very popular and admired by others. Perhaps we can say for them that they are born LEADERS, and we wouldn’t be much wrong, right?

So, except for the flying, what does Peter Pan have that others find appealing and what is more important, how can we become like that?

I believe that we are all born leaders, and that later in life some circumstances make us forget our capacities and value.

 

In our leadership training, we reflect on who we are, what are our skills, abilities and strengths and how can we motivate and encourage others to share our common goals and vision. We all want to be successful, to have our business strive and progress and to work in motivated and proactive teams. The first step is to start from ourselves since the image we what to bring to life has to start from us.  You can learn how to work at your best and become better at what you do, how to take responsibility and make better decisions and make progress faster and faster. Also, we work on developing relationships with ourselves, teams, employees, customers, market and suppliers and we learn how to set direction, measure progress and set systems where we can grow and develop further.

 

So, let’s throw some magic dust and start flying!

 

Taking up a leadership course was my recent decision. It gave me a new perspective on who I am, where I am and where I want to be and how to self – inspect. But I am that kind of person – inquisitive, reflective and empathic so it came like a second skin to me.

Still, being a leader is also about motivating others and since I best function with familiar surroundings, I decided to start with my family who endures all my experiments stoically😊 and implement what I have learnt on the course. So, stay with me in the next couple of texts about leadership in practice.

 

Jelena Milanović, Agile Serbia 

Model Sensei: Final conclusions

“The effective leader recognizes that they are more dependent on their people than they are on them. Walk softly” – Brian Tracy, worldwide Coach and Consultant

 

We reached the last segment of our destination called Modern Sensei: Leadership. But, basically, it’s not the end, it’s just the beginning of one amazing (very often challenging) adventure. And listen – everybody can be a leader. We don’t exaggerate in this claim. But, it takes time, will and belief that you can make great things for you and your team. Being a complete leader is art.

Evolution of a leader, what defines a great leader, why leadership principles are important, what are the main leadership qualities and how you can distinguish a leader and a manager are basic topics for understanding this mindset, right? So, let’s focus on some essential conclusions:

 

Leadership as a secret spice

 

Let’s remind that there are various opinions about who or what is a leader. According to our Linkedin survey, 35% of respondents said that a leader is a creative visionary and designer of good working culture. Then 18% said that leaders are agents of change and in the end, 12% said that leader is one bold and careful teacher. Generally speaking – a leader is someone who is thirsty for knowledge, experiences and good working people with a sense of fellowship.

 

“Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or conclude you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.” – Collin Powell

 

Great leaders have a growth mindset and project it onto their teams. Also, great leaders leverage team diversity by creating safe environments where everyone feels comfortable. The latest statistics tell us that only 5% of businesses have implemented leadership development at all levels. Also, did you hear the phrase – the more women in leadership, the better the shareholder ROI? Yes, these statistics said that we need to do more to get women on the executive floor, and why hiring women into an organization that promotes leadership development and growth is essential for success. Do you remember our flawless description of one leader? Let’s summarize:

In order to be a good (and when the times goes by – a fantastic) leader you have to have the enthusiasm of the child; communication of the journalist; the eloquence of the priest; prudence of the diplomat; courtesy of the king; definitely courage of a mountain guide; sometimes discretion of the lawyer; in each situation manners of a gentleman; always the curiosity of the researcher and patience of Japanese zen Buddhist.

In the sense of Scrum Leadership, we can all agree on one – this is a thrilling and never-ending ride. Logically, there are three types of leadership. As the product owner, you lead the product and you are responsible for its overall success. The cross-functional development team makes the design and technology decisions; and the Scrum Master guides process and organizational change, as the following picture shows.

Source: Roman Pichler

 

To be a great leader, you must deeply understand your team

 

And this is one of the greatest facts when we talk about leadership. In order to call (in the first place) yourself a true and valuable leader, you must understand the needs of your team. Of course, Scrum Masters are focusing on processes and does the team fulfill all necessary aspects and Product Owners on communication and clients’ demands.

Don’t doubt yourself, the leader is you. And for that reason, you maybe need guidance – CAL 1 Course with Olaf Lewitz that re exceptional each time in our Agile Months. Olaf is an Agile Leadership Guru, a guy who lives leadership in practice and masters the foundation of leadership.

So, what did you decide?

 

Inspiration for this article was pieces of art written art by Meredith Wailes published on Bloom Leadership and Roman Picher, published on Roman Picher.

 

 

Modern Sensei: Leader vs. Manager

“Managers light a fire under people; leaders light a fire in people.” – Kathy Austin, Management Consultant

 

Well, it’s not a secret that the leader is a true Modern Sensei. By all means. Observing the whole picture about their personality, behavior and vision, we should respect because of their energy and will to make everything around them better. Being a complete leader is art. But still, it seems that mixing qualities of leaders and managers is common to everyone, right? In the previous article we explained closer what qualities are mainly crucial in leaders life. Especially in business.

 

Leaders think and talk about the solutions. Followers think and talk about the problems.

 

Do you agree with this quote? And can you make a really exact distinction between management and leadership?  Abraham Zaleznik, who was a leading teacher in the field of the psychodynamics of leadership, said that the difference between managers and leaders lies in the conceptions they hold, deep in their psyches, of chaos and order. Managers embrace the process, seek stability and control, and instinctively try to resolve problems quickly – sometimes before they fully understand a problem’s significance. Leaders, in contrast, tolerate chaos and lack of structure and are willing to delay closure in order to understand the issues more fully. So, the best conclusion – business leaders have much more in common with artists, scientists, and other creative thinkers than they do with managers. Organizations need both managers and leaders to succeed, but developing both requires a reduced focus on logic and strategic exercises in favor of an environment where creativity and imagination are permitted to flourish.

 

“Great leaders don’t set out to be leaders. They set out to make a difference.” – Jeremy Bravo

 

The terms management and leadership are not the same. Leadership requires habits and features traits that are far beyond management duties. Both leaders and managers have to manage the resources at their disposal, but true leadership requires more. So, what are the main differences between managers and leaders?

 

#1 Rare vs. copy

Leaders are unique. They are self-aware and work passionately to build a differentiated personal brand. They are quite comfortable in their own shoes and willing to always walk with them. They’re original and transparent. On the other side, managers don’t want (or refuse to adopt) own leadership style and mimic other’s competencies and behaviors.

 

#2 Taking risk vs. controlling

Leaders have the will to try new things even if they may fail badly. They know that failure is often a step on the path to success. On the other side, managers work to minimize risk. They seek to avoid or control problems rather than embracing them.

 

#3 Deep relations vs. processes

While leaders focus on people, managers focus on the structures necessary to set and achieve goals. They focus on the analytical and ensure systems are in place to attain desired outcomes. On the other side, leaders build loyalty and trust by consistently delivering on their promise.

 

#4 Coaching vs. directing

Coaching is never easy. But leaders are good at. They know that people who work for them have the answers or are able to find them. They see their people as competent and are optimistic about their potential. But managers assign tasks and provide guidance on how to accomplish them.

 

#5 Vision vs. goals

Leaders motivate and activate people to be part of something bigger. They know that high-functioning teams can accomplish a lot more working together than individuals working individually. Managers focus on planning, setting and accomplishing goals.

 

If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you

 

And this is completely true. In order to become a fantastic leader, you should go beyond yourself. What this exactly mean? That means beyond your own boundaries, beliefs and ways how to handle team and business as a leader. In the first place – don’t doubt in your capability to learn new things, approaches and paths. Numerous participants said that CAL 1 Course helps them to find really crucial guidelines in order to be better, better and finally – fantastic leaders. Certified Agile Leadership classes with Olaf Lewitz are exceptional each time in our Agile Months. Olaf is an Agile Leadership Guru, a guy who lives leadership in practice and masters foundation of leadership. Just like in video below:

 

Inspiration for this article was a piece of written art by William Arruda, published on Forbes.

Modern Sensei: Leadership qualities

,,Become the kind of the leader that people would follow voluntarily; even if you had no title or position.” – Brian Tracy

 

Leadership is always trendy. We’re sure that you heard that great leaders are not defined by the absence of weakness, but rather by the presence of clear strengths. And that’s the fact. If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. Because of that, we need to make a distinction between leadership principles and leadership qualities. Can you make it this?

 

Leadership is the key to 99% of all successful efforts

 

Principle is basically a kind of doctrine or proposition that is a guide for our behavior. Principles help us to orient ourselves in complex environments. They are an external scope of individuals, something that we’re learning working in different surroundings. On the other side, quality is personal and equated with behavioral pattern of a person. This is actually internal and humanistic perspective of the person. But, how about leaders?

,,Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” – General Dwight Eisenhower


Humility, clarity and courage

 

As a Scrum Master or a Product Owner you naturally have some qualities, and in order to be fantastic leader – don’t hesitate to use them and be the greatest. There are lots of distinctive leadership qualities, and these are our choices:

 

#1 Empathy

 

This is the first thing that each leader must have in mind – an ability to relate and understand your team and be able to put yourself in the soul of your people. As a Scrum Master you need to deeply understand commitments and efforts that Development team puts into the project. On the other side, Product Owner must learn to grasp what is really important for Stakeholders and what is crucial for Scrum Master.

 

#2 Integrity

 

Everybody knows – integrity is a foundation for each leader. Be honest an open-minded as well as dedicated to each aspect of work. Especially when you have 15 days to accomplish tasks and at the same time be at service to your team in Sprint.

 

#3 Listening

 

And by listening, we’re thinking about active listening. There’s a well-said truth: people have two ears and one mouth. Leaders must carefully listen in order to make trust, respect and confidence. They’re focused on people and details that matter in every task.

 

#4 Caring

 

Appreciate others and really, really take into account their feelings and needs. Especially if you have some of Scrum roles. People are not robots. Also, leaders inspire their team members, clients and customers feel trusted. Easy to accomplish, right?

 

#5 Motivation

 

It’s not easy to motivate each member of the team. As a Scrum Master you need to give good reasons to Development team why their job is great opportunity to learn something new and be unique. On the other side, Product Owner motivates clients not to lose trust and high expectations from project. Motivation is challenging and boosting morale needs leaders’ self-motivation.

 

#6 Transparency

 

Being transparent is worthy of respect. Be open to each team member and don’t hide important information, the trust is key especially in turbulent times. How do you nurture transparency as a leader?


 

Whatever you are, be a good one

 

And this is a completely true. Don’t doubt yourself, you can and you are a fantastic leader. Numerous participants said that CAL 1 Course helps them to find really useful guidelines in order to be better and better each day. Certified Agile Leadership classes with Olaf Lewitz are something that we’re expecting for a long time. Olaf is an Agile Leadership Guru, a guy who lives leadership in practice and stands for qualities that one person makes a good leader. Just like in video below:

 

 

Photo source:

www.techsgreat.com

 

Modern Sensei: Leadership principles

“Leadership is something you earn, something you’re chosen for. You can’t come in yelling, ‘I’m your leader!’ If it happens, it’s because the other guys respect you.” – Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback

 

Once upon a time, someone says that true leadership stems from individuality that is honestly and sometimes imperfectly expressed. One is sure – leaders should strive for authenticity over perfection. In the previous part, we wrote some interesting conclusions. But, before that, we wanna ask you…

 

…are you a true leader?

 

And this isn’t a tricky question. If you remembered, we showed that journalists, diplomats, priests, mountain guides, gambler and Japanese zen Buddhist have something in common. They all have a specific trait that makes him/her a leader. In order to have manners of a gentleman or courtesy of a king you must work hard and learn passionately. Being a leader isn’t something that you can get easily. But, in order to be a magnificent leader ask yourself: ,,What are the values that drive your work?” As a Scrum Master or Product Owner, you need to adopt or follow leadership principles. They aren’t just a bunch of guidelines – they actually work as a fuel to move and inspire others to work together for a common goal.

There are so many leadership principles, and yes – they’re all vital for success, but these are our choice:

 

#1 Learn and be curious

In sense of talking about Scrum and Product Owner leadership, learning is a never-ending process. Leaders always seek next improvements and besides that – they’re always curious about new trends, possibilities and actions.

 

#2 Leadership is always about people

Communication skills are essential for any leader. Scrum Master who doesn’t communicate with his team, and on the other side – Product Owner with Scrum Master leads to failure. As a leader, you must have the best possible relationship with each member of your team. Influencing is a new trend, mainly expressed in leadership.

 

#3 Listening is everything

There’s a reason why we have two ears and one mouth. As a leader, by listening you catch new valuable information and deeply understand the needs of your team. Turning on your emotional and intellectual sense, you’ll really get a perception of the structure of your team.

 

#4 Earning trust is hard but worthy

As a leader, to get trust is the hardest thing. In each aspect of business if you wanna earn a trust – give it to others. Scrum Master, for example, must have confidence in the team and believe they can be self-organized. Product Owner with interpersonal skills and real-time actions can understand and convict clients that everything is going to be on time.

 

#5 Help other future leaders

This is very humble goal. If someone has an aspiration to become a leader, help and motivate him. Thinking about the future is a desirable leadership virtue, right? Leaders must understand the value of education and carry talented employees. Don’t forget: satisfied employee = happy employee.

 

#6 Admit mistakes

This is maybe the most important principle. Being humble is everything in business when the environment is quickly changing. Mistakes are not bad, they’re showing where you went wrong and how you can improve yourself in the future. Don’t allow people to lose faith in you, even you made and admitted mistakes, you’ll grow in the team’s eyes. And that only matters, right?

 

So, what are the values that drive your work?

 

Leadership Principles are a key part of each aspect of business in which you work with different types of people. Principles help us to orient ourselves in complex environments. They guide our actions and decision making. And of course – they encourage responsibility – for you and all other leaders in your organization. Certified Agile Leadership classes with Olaf Lewitz are something that we’re expecting for a long time. Olaf is an Agile Leadership Guru, a guy who lives leadership in practice. His classes are full of practical examples, like in the video below:

 

Don’t hesitate to jump into a new Agile adventure called Certified Agile Leadership Course with amazing Olaf Lewitz. This is a unique opportunity to learn from the best.

 

 

 

 

Modern Sensei: Evolution of a leader

,,The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the ove that gets the people to do the greatest things.´´, Ronald Reagan

 

Let’s be honest: who or what is a leader for you?

 

The truth is this: defining a leader and his qualities have evolved over the past centuries. Modern technologies and various trends in leading different groups of people, projects and countries are constantly changing. But, that’s too obvious, right? In order of this, we can’t forget the fact that leadership is changing, so we have a very simple and effective equation:

Leader = Influencer

Just like that. Being an influencer isn’t a new term, instead of that – suggests on someone who is very, very crucial and important. Did you hear for a Mr Warenn Bennis? He’s that influential guy who invented The Study of Corporate Leadership. Wrote about 30 book on leadership, saying that being a leader is actually a piece of art. But…

 

…how Lao-tzu, Napoleon and Moses fit into this story?

 

Simple as that. They were historical figures whose writings on leadership date back over 5000 years ago. The word ”leader” entered the English language around the year 1300 and the methodical study of leadership began over 600 years later in the 1930’s.

 

,,Becoming a leader is synonymous with becoming yourself. It is precisely that simple and it is also that difficult.´´, Warren Bennis

 

We won’t from books copy-paste facts about leadership evolution. Instead of that, we can ask you: do you prefer more a lonely adventure and being a self-leader or you better functioning in the small or massive community? Scientists are still trying to find and define the best possible characteristics for each type of leaders so they can work and create extraordinary results.

Focus on individuals, facilitative leadership, self-leadership, coordinative leadership, collaborative leadership are just a small part of leadership evolution. But the main question is this:

 

what kind of leadership collaboration is between Scrum Master, Product Owner and Development team?

 

Yes, you guessed – a closed one. Product Leadership contains outstanding vision, exceptional product strategy and road map and marvelous product backlog prioritization. What about Scrum Master Leadership? Yes, he/she is a process leader, whose personal skills have a huge relation with desirable leader’ skills.

 

And, don’t forget this: if your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.

More about this topic we’ll discuss very soon… Stay tuned!

 

Certified Agile Leadership Course I with Olaf Lewitz (16th and 17th November 2020)