The fifth agile value for development team leaders

Posted on Jul 15, 2019

We all know agile manifesto. Over decades it has provided the basis for all agile frameworks and methodologies in software business. It’s built on four core values:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

During recent years I’ve introduced one more value for the agile teams that I’ve been responsible for. The fifth value is:

  • Personal authority over positional authority

Personal authority is gained through knowledge and experience. It is given by the team members, not by a higher authority. People with greater personal authority are typically more respected in organization. For agile organization this means flexibility and capability to change, because leaders with great personal authority do not require strict processes or hierarchies to use their power.

Positional authority on the other hand requires strict hierarchy and command chain. Without processes, formalities and roles positional authority does not even exist. That’s why a leader with great positional power often resists the change without even realizing it. This is of course against the core agile values.

Both personal and positional authority are needed. Personal authority helps the leader to motivate people and encourage to perform better. Positional authority brings clear responsibility and status for negotiations, especially with external stakeholders such as clients or company executives. But while there is value in the positional authority, we value the personal authority more.

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