Agile Servant Leadership – Are you a traffic light or a round about leader?

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Transcript – Agile Servant Leadership Example – Are you a traffic light or a round about leader?

This is a great little exercise on being agile servant leadership around mindset, especially around our behaviours , our attitudes and our beliefs.

A great little metaphor really helpful for raising our awareness, giving us that question when we’re working with others, and help guide our responses to situations.

So we’re using this idea of roundabouts or traffic lights, so if we use this as an example, as a bit of a metaphor for how we’re leading our teams we can think about whether we’re behaving traffic lights or are we behaving like roundabouts?

If we think about traffic lights we can imagine our teams are in cars and navigating a junction and so we want them to navigate a junction and do we want to be like traffic lights, so we are going to stand in that junction and we are going to tell people when to stop when to get ready to go.

When to go and when to stop, and we are going to very much control that situation to ensure that the team can navigate that junction well, or, do we want to take a more of a roundabout approach to this so again we’ve got our teams that are approaching this problem this challenge this junction and do we want to put in a roundabout.

Now a roundabout is quite different to a set of traffic lights they’re a round about with common rules. Those rules being give way to the right as you approach the roundabout, and so we are putting in place a set of rules and we are then trusting those drivers and those members of our team to be able to navigate that junction well using those rules and those guidelines. Another law here in the uk is that you can only go around a round about three times so i think that’s quite a good one as well. So we might allow people to go round that round about three times but if they’ve gone around three times three iterations and they haven’t been able to to make that decision or come out with that solution take that junction and then they come back to us.

It’s a really nice little metaphor to catch ourselves out when we’re leading our teams and we’re making decisions or we’re managing a project or whatever it might be. Do I need to be like a traffic light here and use command and control micro management, or, do I need to put in place more of a roundabout approach, give the team a set tools, a set of guidelines and to help them to navigate that round about.

Agile Servant Leader - traffic lights and round about image

I think this is a really nice metaphor for the kind of theory x theory y type of leadership. Theory x being more like the traffic lights and so very much you know people need to be told exactly what to do when to do it and how to do it. And the Y approach is actually people are doing the best they can with the skills and the knowledge and the environment, the resources that they’ve got, and the better I can make those skills and those resources and that environment for them say, for example putting in roundabouts, giving them those rules, and those guidelines, they’re actually able to self-organize and self-manage themselves around that junction rather than me having to come and control it.

So we definitely say that the roundabout approach is a more agile approach, now of course in leadership and across business we often need to change our tactics and change our approach so you know there are instances where we may need to be more traffic light and we may need to take that more command and control approach, but more often than not we can put in place junctions like these roundabouts and solutions that really help our team to be self-organizing self-managing and navigate those challenges and problems by themselves with our support.

Find out more about our Agile Leadership Coaching, Training and Consultancy Workshops

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