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Agile Coaches' Corner shares practical concepts in an approachable way. It is for agile practitioners and business leaders seeking expert advice on improving the way they work to achieve their desired outcomes. If you have a topic you'd like discussed, email it to, or tweet it with #agilethoughtpodcast.

Jul 10, 2020

This week on the Agile Coaches’ Corner, Dan Neumann is joined by a new guest, Michael Guiler! Mike is an Agile Consultant at AgileThought. He has been an Agile coach for over 13 years now and has tons of experience helping geographically dispersed organizations (both business and technology) transform to better achieve their goals. His focus is on helping organizations learn and apply the values and principles of the Agile mindset to continuously improve.


In this episode, Dan and Mike will be focusing on the topic of intent-based leadership and the key leadership characteristics that allow for intent-based leadership. Mike shares how an organization can begin to take the first steps towards intent-based leadership, how to avoid common pitfalls, and shares his best practical tips and advice on embracing intent-based leadership throughout the organization.


Key Takeaways

What is intent-based leadership? What problems does it solve?

Helps to get the entire team to chip in and no longer wait for approvals and sign-offs

Takes the pressure off of one single leader and unlocks the potential of every employee

The opposite of directive leadership

Changing the pattern from leader-follower to leader-leader

Those in the leadership level are not telling people what to do/how to do it; they are setting goals and directions

The ‘followers’ are engaging their creativity, mind, and intelligence and leveraging those skills and sharing their solutions with the leadership (this gives the organization a great opportunity to learn and exposes leaders to things they hadn’t thought about before)

Getting started with intent-based leadership/Characteristics of leadership to allow for intent-based leadership:

Before the leader-leader pattern can take place a lot of growth has to take place

Keep in mind that this process won’t happen overnight

Immediately begin to address competence — leadership at all levels can’t thrive if your team doesn’t have the skills or knowledge to prioritize and take action

Establish safety — mistakes will happen; it’s how we react to those mistakes that will enable leadership at all levels to thrive or to fail miserably

Use mistakes as a learning opportunity rather than punishing an individual

Be curious and ask good questions from a place of true curiosity

Challenge your preconceived notions of how things have always been done

Embrace new ideas and thoughts — there’s a real chance you’ll learn something!

Allow time for the team to talk out loud

Respect others opinions and encourage others to have their own point of view

It’s hard and will take a lot of time and investment (but it’s money well-spent — the productivity will explode)

It’s important to set guide rails in the technology world

Focus on the goal/outcome instead of the ‘how’; set clear intentions and let the team figure out how

Adopt the “I intend to” language pattern

Mike’s intent-based leadership tips:

Once the competency is established and you’ve gotten your organization thinking about it, it is important to establish safety (without safety people won’t bring their creative-selves or do anything new)

It is key crucial for the team to know what the goals are

Have an “ish” mindset; decisions and actions being taken won’t match yours and that’s OK!

Overcome urges to command and control

Be tolerant of differences and encourage different points of view

Mike’s recommendation to further learn about intent-based leadership:

Turn the Ship Around!: A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders,
by David L. Marquet


Mentioned in this Episode:

Michael Guiler

Agile Coaches’ Corner Ep. 84: “Getting to ‘Finish’ as a Scrum Team with Andrea Floyd”

Turn the Ship Around!: A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders, by David L. Marquet

Forbes article regarding psychopathology in CEOs


Michael Guiler’s Book Picks:

The Age of Agile: How Smart Companies Are Transforming the Way Work Gets Done,
by Stephen Denning

Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don't, by Simon Sinek


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