30 september 2021

Tribal leadership: Purpose - Mastery - Autonomy

What´s the secret behind effective Tribal leadership?

From Agile Alliance you can read an experience report describing "The journey of an agile leadership team - the power of three". This report explains how ING in Netherlands introduces a new virtual leadership team to support the squads - the Product Owner (PO), the Chapter Lead (CL) and the Agile Coach (AC).

The most interesting thing for me is how this leadership team split their responsibilities in order to create drive and motivation in the organisation. They use inspiration from one of my favorite books and authors; "Drive - the surprising truth about what motivates us" written by Dan Pink. This book explains the ingredients needed in order to create motivated employees in "modern organisations" - Purpose, Mastery and Autonomy.

In short:

  • The Product Owner is responsible for explaining the Purpose of everything the squad are doing linked to overall goals and vision
  • The Chapter Lead is responsible for supporting Mastery among the employees within the Chapter
  • The Agile Coach is responsible for creating Autonomy and psychological safety within the squad and for each squad member
You can read some more interesting stuff about how to motivate your agile engineers in the book "DevOps for Dummies" written by Emily Freeman. In agile organisations you have to create an environment where employees are self-motivated, thinking independently and feeling excited about their work. As a leader you then need to support intrinsic motivation, i.e what do the employees want to do based on their internal drivers. If possible, you should strive for the feeling of Flow as described by the author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Emily also refers to Dan Pink and his book "Drive" - as a DevOps leader you need to manage:
  • Purpose - make sure to support your engineers in finding their individual purpose - a sense of purpose keeps engineers working hard - even when the challenges are overwhelming.
  • Mastery - DevOps creates an environment for continuous improvement and this forward movement satisfies the basic human need for mastery.
  • Autonomy - in DevOps your team has the autonomy to create a plan for the work and divide the work in a way that suits their strengths as a team.
Dan Pink has written many fantastic books - read more about this in my former blog posts

Finally I would like to share the RSA animated clip from Dan Pinks talk about "Drive" - this is a perfect 10 minute summary explaining the importance of Purpose, Mastery and Autonomy:



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