I became interested in leadership when I was first appointed to a supervisory position. My first exposure to leading a team was negative – from my perspective – but my management saw a different view. I thought that being a manager meant I was not smart enough to continue on the technical ladder. Little did I know that most technical answers are easy compared to motivating a team toward a common goal.
Innovation leadership takes many forms. In all cases, there must be a follower for a leader to exist. Leaders engender willing followers. We want to learn from others who have been successful. We want to take direction from someone who has demonstrated skill at problem-solving. We want to mimic the behaviors of inspiring people.
What is a Wagile Leader?
Before we discuss Wagile leadership, I want to take a quick detour to define Wagile. Wagile is a product innovation process to create and launch groundbreaking new products and services. The word Wagile comes from a combination of the terms “waterfall” and “agile”. Waterfall approaches to project management use upfront planning while agile project management acts on an evolving scope of work.
The Wagile philosophy thus integrates the best of both project management approaches.
- Move fast
- Practice discipline
- Understand risk
- Engaged customers
- Provide autonomy
Wagile Roles in Leadership
Each Wagile role serves as a leader. Being non-hierarchical and flexible, Wagile does not specify one person, one role, or one organization as a primary decision-maker. Rather, all roles act as leaders to ensure customer satisfaction with new product development (NPD). As described in detail here, the Wagile roles include:
- Project leader,
- Customer representative,
- Team leader, and
- Cross-functional team.
Wagile leadership characteristics focus on engaging customers to deliver high-quality products and services that meet market needs while generating profit for the firm. Servant leadership traits of putting the team before self are important as are elements of Emotional Intelligence (such as self-awareness and self-control). I have observed that the most successful teams are mission-oriented to create a common good rather than egocentric to promote a manager’s self-interest.
In my practice of innovation teaching and coaching, I often used work style assessments to drive the leadership conversation. An important starting point for product innovation teams is the Innovation Health Assessment™ to benchmark your organization’s NPD maturity against industry standards. (Take your complimentary Innovation Health Assessment here.)
Another work style assessment I use is called the Team Dimensions Profile. As a DiSC-certified management facilitator, I prefer the language of Team Dimensions for innovation team growth. We identify individual working preferences as Creator, Advancer, Refiner, or Executer. Note that these are not the same as ingrained personality because each of us can stretch to different work roles as needed to accomplish the project goals. (Learn more about Team Dimensions here where I spoke with the Everyday Innovator podcast.)
In fact, it is the capability of team members on a Wagile project to stretch and serve as generalist-specialists that make each of us leaders. Generalist-specialists are people who have a deep knowledge and expertise in one arena (specialist) but also a desire to learn and help across the board (generalist).
If you want to know more about Wagile and how to apply it in your own organization, join me for a short seminar on 10 November 2020 (2-4 pm CST). Upon completion of this course, you will be equipped with a set of tools to speed product to market for innovation success. Register here. To investigate and expand your personal development style, please join me for the Life Design Master Mind Q&A on 11 November 2020 at 11 am CST (free), followed by subsequent in-depth workshops over the next six months. Register here for the free webinar. Contact me at [email protected] with questions about these workshops.
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I am inspired by writing, teaching, and coaching. I tackle life with an infusion of rigor, zeal, and faith. It brings me joy to help you build innovation leaders. Teresa Jurgens-Kowal is an experienced innovation professional with a passion for lifelong learning with a PhD in Chemical Engineering and an MBA in Computer and Information Decision Making. My credentials include PE (State of Louisiana), NPDP, PMP®, and CPEM, and I am a DiSC® certified facilitator. Contact me at [email protected] or area code 281 + phone 787-3979 for more information on coaching for entrepreneurs and innovators.