Sunday, August 14, 2011

Leaning in, Leaning back

Some of you may know of my dance theory of human relationships.  It is a simple theory, and like many simple things, true at least some of the time.

It says that if you want someone to come closer, you must move backwards.  As most any pair dancer will tell you.  That of course assumes some sort of engagement of the two 'dancers'.  (Just as pair dancers hold each other at the waist and shoulder.)

Why is this true?  Well, one creates a kind of vacuum, which the other person wants to fill.  And, since you are no longer 'in the way', the other person can actually move toward you.  Think about it a bit more.  It is true (when it is true) in several ways.

So, how should an agile manager manage?

Well, at a course recently, I noticed the people in the group, and saw some leaning forward and some leaning back.

And that led me to these thoughts.

If you are an agile advocate, I think leaning "all the way" back is generally not good.  Maybe useful in some circumstances, but not the main posture.

On the other hand, leaning forward aggressively can be off-putting.  I am not recommending this either. This might be felt by people as 'command-and-control' as well.  Seldom something we associate with Agile.

What I am suggesting is that an agile advocate or manager must lean forward in a friendly and energetic way.  The group must at least know that you 'want to go' and that you are, in a reasonable way, excited about doing agile.

And then pull back some, so that others may come forward and become engaged.  The energy of a larger group can be far more powerful than the energy of one person.

What are your thoughts on these fundamental 'attitude' issues?


Note: The image above is from Bloomberg BusinessWeek, here:
The related article has some of the usual good stuff about body language, and some other good images.  Thinking about management style from the viewpoint of images (eg, as others see us) maybe allows us to think in a fresh way about the subject.

No comments: