Respect for People: Being all-in


During a recent retrospective, an Agile transformation team was discussing if they needed to post how many days were left in the sprint. Was it enough to post the dates of the sprint, or should they also display how many actual working days are left? They kicked around on how prescriptive they needed to be.

“I think it’s a good idea.” A team member who was a manager chimed in. “It fits right in with respect for people.”


Members of an Agile transformation team were discussing coaching their leaders on gemba. They were hammering out the learning objectives.

“They need to know that gemba gives respect for people.” The team member who was a manager offered.


“And, leaders shouldn’t attend the team’s stand ups and butt in to their business. It violates that respect for people thing.”

Oops. Well-intentioned, but…oops.

Part of growing into Lean leadership, and having an Agile mindset, for that matter, is fully understanding what respect for people means, and being all-in. I imagine many Lean leaders may have already stopped reading, here, because they believe they have the topic mastered.

Treating others how you would like to be treated, and listening openly to different opinions and appreciating team diversity is a great part of respect. But it’s only scratching the surface. And, it’s not what make you a Lean leader or work with an Agile mindset.

Peel away the basics of respect as a Lean leader, and you will find the deeper meaning of challenging teams to think critically, and improve each day.

  • Don’t only help your favorites, help everyone on the team.
  • Spend time with the team each day to help them develop and contribute to their full potential.
  • Your Lean leadership is a practice, which includes teaching your team to find and solve problems daily, in the name of continuous improvement. Doing this will help them grow their critical thinking and problem solving skills.

Growing your Agile mindset, you will learn that a core part of respect for people is an element of a self-organized team. Switching from command-and-control leadership to leading a self-organized team is challenging, but there is hope! As long as you are willing to be all-in.

Being on the peripheral of respect for people is nice, but it will only strengthen your leadership muscle so far. Like the Agile ice bucket challenge I wrote about. You can be there for the Whoosh! OMG this is great to respect people! But if you don’t fully commit to respect for people, things will slip through the cracks. You’ll miss out. Your Agile mindset will miss out. And, your team will miss out.


But how do I do this? It’s up to you. There are many coaches, blogs, books, and speakers on the how part of this…one of them will surely fit your style. The most challenging part of how to do this is to be willing to take the first step. Be willing to get that first awkward moment out of the way, so you can move on to growth.

It’s also a good time to explore what that respect for people thing means in your personal relationships and your parenting…

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