4 Ways Leaders Can Empower Teams

As an agile leader, it's important to give teams the space to solve problems, innovate, and learn from experimentation.
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Reviewed by: Raúl Herranz

Agile leaders, or people aspiring to become agile leaders, empower the people who work for them. Team empowerment can help your organization create innovative products and services and encourage team members to feel a sense of ownership in their contributions, ultimately supporting creative, self-managing, results-driving teams.

In Certified Agile Leader® 1, a Scrum Alliance certification course, you'll understand the case for agile leadership and ways to apply it, including leading agile teams. In the meantime, check out four common ways that leaders can empower their teams.

#1) Support their focus

You may be an idea-generating machine at work. It's easy to swoop into meetings and conversations and end up requesting new work or deliverables. Doing so can detour the team's focus. If they work with the scrum framework, their sprint goal may be at risk if new work is introduced.

If you'd like to empower innovative, effective teams that deliver value frequently, support their focus. Every context is unique, and there are always times when sprint goals may be jeopardized or focus reoriented because of a change or unexpected variable. Deciding when it's necessary to shift focus is part of your toolbox of leadership skills.

#2) Encourage teams to solve complex problems

Teams that are empowered to solve complex problems are better equipped to deliver value frequently, manage their own blockers without extra help, and make decisions quickly to keep work on track. 

This approach may feel alien at first if you're used to making a lot of decisions, delegating, stepping in to put out fires, and generally making sure that your organization is progressing toward its goals. Agile leadership training—whether you're a team lead, executive, department manager, or scrum master—provides you with the knowledge to understand how empowered teams can benefit your company while also giving you the tools to navigate this type of team leadership style.

#3) Don't forget your role as a coach and mentor

Coaching and mentoring, no matter your role or title, enables you to develop innovative, effective teams.

Coaching and mentoring are different. As a coach, you help team members find their own answers. As a mentor, you use your knowledge and background to share what you know.

A simple coaching trick to get started is instead of telling the team an answer, ask yourself, "What would the team say?" This simple trick lets you stop immediately telling someone what to do, giving you a few seconds to pause and ask the question.

As a mentor, you work with an employee one-on-one to help grow skills in a specific area. For example, if you work at a company with a team of product designers, and you yourself once filled that role, you have an opportunity to contribute positively to their growth by offering your mentorship, insights, and experience. If you're in a position of influence, you can provide them with a safe setting in which to start testing and practicing the new tools and techniques that are expected of senior product designers.

#4) Leverage learning and innovation

In many businesses, we spend 100 percent of our time executing work and none on learning and innovation. As an agile leader, you can create the time and space for learning and innovation to be a regular part of your team's work. Learning and innovation are critical for businesses to stay relevant with competitors and create products and services that meet customer needs.

In your leadership role, you can create this space by carving out specific innovation days or by having a particular day or part of your sprint cycle where teams dedicate themselves to learning a new skill.

Empower teams to drive success

The ideas above are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to adopting agile leadership behaviors and capabilities. If you're ready to learn more, understand how agile leadership can be applied in your situation, and earn a globally recognized certification symbolizing your competency, then register now for the Certified Agile Leader® 1 (CAL 1™) course today. Find out why empowered teams can change the game for your organization.

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