Zeeshan Amjad

Zeeshan Amjad

Zeeshan Amjad is a lifelong learner. With over 20 years of experience in Information Technology, he played several roles as Agile Coach, Agile Transformation Leader, Tech Evangelist, Development Manager, Project Manager, Enterprise Architect, Team Lead, Scrum Master, SAFe Agilist, Mentor, Speaker, and Author.

He enjoys Scrum to solve complex problems (not only in Software but also in other domains) and Coaching to grow people by unlocking their own potentials. He loves reading, writing, public speaking, and have a healthy discussion about coaching and Scrum.

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Reframing is all about changing the point of view of the situation. I can’t find any other simple, yet interesting example to explain what reframing is. Though, the famous Chinese Taoist story “The old man and his horse” is also a perfect demonstration of reframing example.

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Let me start a discussion with a beautiful sentence written on the preface of the Agile Leader Toolkit book [1]. “A Leader is like a farmer, who doesn’t grow crops by pulling them but instead creates the perfect environment for the crops to grow and thrive.” Everyone has a different definition of leadership, and that also changes over time, Peter G. Northouse explains a brief history of the evaluation of leadership definition[2]. Here is a simple description of leadership from the same book.

“Leadership is a process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal.” [2]

Good Leader to Great Leader

By Zeeshan Amjad

Let me start a discussion with a beautiful sentence written on the preface of the Agile Leader Toolkit book [1]. “A Leader is like a farmer, who doesn’t grow crops by pulling them but instead creates the perfect environment for the crops to grow and thrive.” Everyone has a different definition of leadership, and that also changes over time, Peter G. Northouse explains a brief history of the evaluation of leadership definition[2]. Here is a simple description of leadership from the same book.

“Leadership is a process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal.” [2]

Here the critical points are “process,” “influences,” and “common goal.” The process makes leadership an interactive event. There is no leadership without any influence, and without any common goal, there is no direction.

Some so many different models describe leadership and leaders. Paul Newton explains ten most popular leadership theories in his book [3], perhaps Tannenbaum-Schmidt seven steps linear model is one of the most cited models explain leadership style from “Tells, Sell, Suggest, Consults, Joins, Delegates” to all the way “Abdicates.” John Maxwell 5 level leadership model is also compelling [4] that includes “Position, Permission, Production, People Development,” and “Pinnacle” levels. Bill Joiner and Stephan Josephs define five levels of mastery, “Expert, Achiever, Catalyst, Co-Creator and Synergist” with four competencies. [5] David Rooke and William R. Torbert defined seven transformations of leadership “Opportunities, Diplomat, Expert, Achiever, Individualist, Strategist, and Alchemist” their characteristics, weakness, and steps to move to the next level. [6]

No matter which model you follow or where you are in the leadership journey, as Tony Stoltzfus said in his book [7] “To grow as a leader, a person must gradually increase in ability to take initiative and bear responsibility.” We don’t want to start a discussion about “Manager vs. Leader,” we assumed that readers already know the difference; instead, we are going to discuss the simple “Good to Great” approach, as suggested by Geoff Watts [8][9]. We will look at the four different dimensions of a leader, “Coach, Care, Cultivate, and Change” let’s call it the leadership 4C model and 3 factors in each dimension.

Coach

Coaching is unlocking people’s potential and what else is a better tool than coaching to grow the people. It is one of the most powerful tool leaders has to not only grow people but also create more leaders who can also develop leaders.

A good leader has great answers. A great leader has great questions.

A good leader grows the people by mentoring; however, a great leader grows the people by coaching. Mentor, with his experience, education, and/or expertise, has excellent answers and solutions for problems; on the other hand, the coach has great questions to help people to grow themselves.

A good leader knows how. A great leader knows why.

Simon Sinek gave a great Ted Talk in 2009 and had a book on the same topic [10]. Good leaders solve how to solve the problem. However, a great leader said why we need to solve this problem.

A good leader solves your problem. A great leader will grow you to solve your problem yourself.

A good leader solves your problem, but instead of solving the problem, a great leader solving your problem, grow you that you will be able to solve your problem. As there is an old saying, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”

 

Care

Empathy is one of the main attributes of any leader, and leaders show great care and compassion. Without compassion, it is tough to create influence, and without influence, there is no leadership.

A good leader listens to you. A great leader listens for you.

There is no better way to show empathy than listening, and any leader does precisely that. What makes great leaders different than good leaders is, great leader, not only listen to you but also listen for you. In other words, a great leader keeps an eye and ear open for any opportunity for your growth, be it feedback, challenge, or even another prospect.

A good leader solves problems. A great leader convert problems into opportunities.

We already discuss that good leader solve the problem and great leader grow you to solve your problem yourself. A great leader doesn’t stop there but also turn the problems into opportunities. Just imagine how the prominent stockbroker can make the big money if there is no volatility in the stock market?

A good leader stands with you. A great leader will put you in front in case of success and behind in case of failure.

Leaders stand with you to show care, compassion, empathy, and concern. However, one of the primary purposes of the great leader is to grow the persons around him/her, and to do this; all great leaders put you in front of success to give you limelight and behind in case of failure to protect you.

Cultivate

Cultivation means foster for growth, and it is one of the main attributes of a leader. I’d say if a leader has all the characteristics without cultivation, then he can be anything but not a leader.

A good leader creates followers. A great leader creates more leaders.

One of my favorite leadership books, which describes the true story, is Turn the Ship Around by David Marquet [11] explain this concept very well to create more leaders, not followers. Great leaders know that creating more leaders, not followers, will keep this cycle continue, and this is what distinguishes him from good leaders.

A good leader motivates you. A great leaders create the environment which motivates you.

I am yet to meet with any leader who is not a motivator. What makes great leaders, apart from a good leader is that great leaders don’t need to motivate you, he/she creates an environment that motivates you. As a result, people always feel motivated even in the absence of a great leader because of the environment he/she created.

A good leader gives feedback. A great leader receives feedback.

Everyone needs the feedback to grow, and good leaders do precisely the same for your growth. In addition to that, great leaders also know the importance of receiving feedback to grow themselves too.

Change

Leaders create change and leave the mark, no matter how big or small that difference and mark is.

A good leader focuses on the outcome. A great leader focuses on the vision.

During one of the speaking, I mentioned, the manager focuses on the output; the leader focuses on the outcome, and the great leader, sometimes also known as visionary, focuses on the vision. Vision gives us direction.

A good leader does things right. A great leader does the right thing.

Any good leader not only does the right things but also mentor you to do the right things. On the other hand, great leaders know what is essential to work on that makes him more impactful.

A good leader transforms persons. A great leader transforms societies.

I keep the best one to the last. No doubt, a good leader transforms and grows the people, but a great leader is not limited to people he/she transforms the whole societies and sometimes even a reason to create new societies. Remember Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr, not too far from history.

Reference

  1. Agile Leadership Toolkit by Peter Koning
  2. Leadership: Theory and Practice seventh edition by Peter G. Northhouse
  3. Leadership Theories by Paul Newton
  4. 5 Levels of Leadership by John Maxwell
  5. Leadership Agility by Bill Joiner and Stephen Joseph
  6. Leadership Coaching by Tony Stoltzful
  7. Seven Transforamtion of Leadership by David Rooke and William R. Torbert
  8. Scrum Mastery: From Good to Great Servant Leadership
  9. Product Mastery: From Good to Great Product Ownership
  10. Start with Why by Simon Sinek
  11. Turn the ship around by David L. Marquet

 

 

© 2020 by Zeeshan Amjad

All Rights Reserved

This article was originally published at https://baa.tco.ac/3ENF

 

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A Retrospective is one of the most important events in Scrum. It not only provides the opportunity to look back, but (as the 12th Agile principle said) tunes and adjusts the behavior to become more effective. However, still, it is one of the most misused Scrum Events after Daily Scrum. There have been a lot of anti-patterns observed and documented over time. Here we are going to discuss a few anti-patterns of a retrospective and how can we fix this with one of the most powerful coaching techniques: powerful questions.

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Best Agile Articles is a collaborative project of the Agile community to bring you the best of the best publications each year. Our goal in publishing these yearly editions is to cull through the many articles that are published each year and provide you with a curated set of high-quality articles that capture the latest knowledge and experience of the agile community in one compact volume.
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