The Spiderman Antidote to the Anti-patterns of Agile Leaders

This annual event is happening on the 19th and 20th October and this year it is in Johannesburg.

My proposal for a 90-minute workshop was accepted and I am speaking on the 19th – The Spiderman Antidote to the Anti-patterns of Agile Leaders.

The abstract is below:

Leading in an Agile environment is all about mindset and understanding what motivates people. This interactive workshop will unpack the superhero archetypes of Agile leaders with their related Agile leadership anti-patterns.

Many leaders come into an Agile environment and feel threatened by a perceived loss of control. Successful Agile leaders empower the team and acknowledge that they can choose their own work and solve their own issues, pull themselves out of the detail and focus on supporting the team, know that if the team succeeds they do too, and are emotionally mature and are not constrained by ego.

The best paradigm to frame the concept of leadership in Agile is that leadership is encouraged at all levels. As such everyone working in an Agile environment is a leader. In smaller organizations this is probably easy to encourage. In larger organizations, where the “Title” or “Position” predominates and defines who is a “leader” and who is not, anti-patterns tend to emerge which do not support an Agile culture, even if it is the organisation’s stated vision to become Agile.

In this instance the physical manifestations of Agile are put in place such as physical boards, Scrum ceremonies and an attempt at co-location are put in place. The danger here is that the Agile adoption will be a shallow one and will remain superficial. When the awesome magic of implementing Agile right is not achieved then people blame Agile as being the problem. It is not Agile that makes teams, projects and adoptions fail; it is people that cherry-pick those aspects of Agile that they like and are easy to implement that put the adoption on the path to failure.

All too often leaders dismiss Agile as something the development teams do, rather than as something which affects them too, and that their role is important for its successful adoption. The role of leaders cannot be underestimated to turn a shallow adoption of Agile and make it a deep and lasting change for the organisation’s benefit. In this case, adoption in a small team or program will start the journey toward the tipping point that will make it a lasting organizational change.

This may cause confusion, manifested as cognitive dissonance, in the leader. They may be asking themselves these questions:

How am I supposed to behave in a changing environment?

What behaviours am I supposed show to support the values and principles of Agile?

How do I support the teams now?

This workshop is based on my learnings and experiences as line manager of a development team in a large organisation, and Agile coach in large organisations in how leaders can in many instances unknowingly “sabotage” Agile initiatives, as well as experiential insights on what the enabling leadership behaviours and characteristics are.

As part of this talk I will share the following:

What are the superhero archetypes of Agile leaders.

What are the related Agile leadership anti-patterns?

Discover the antidote to these anti-patterns (or the good patterns to replace the anti-patterns).


I will post the slides and video after the conference.

If you haven’t bought your tickets to the conference yet, click on this link.


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