How is your Agile model impacting your results?

The Head, Heart and Gut of Agile 

Neuroscience and leadership researchers, coaches and consultants will often work with clients on increasing awareness of the different thinking patterns associated with our head, heart and gut centres.

As systemic coaches we know that organisations are reflections of the people who create them and evolve them over time. They inherit our biases, our strengths, our histories and our blind spots. This is of course why diverse teams create such impact.

So does your Agile come from the Head, Heart or Gut and what might be the costs and benefits of these tendencies be? 

The Head

When we are coming from our head centre we are tuning into our analytical side. We will be defining clear processes, creating structures and using data to drive our decisions. These can help our organisational machines scale efficiently and work well.

The dark side of over-relying on this centre or the negative element when we are triggered into a defensive rather that inspiring head-space is that we can become defensive and critical of others. We protect ourselves by proving others wrong and meeting our need to be right.

If our leadership is particularly head-centred we might be drawn to large scale Agile frameworks because these provide the structure that fits our mental models, keep us feeling safe and distant and don’t require us to trust others.

The Heart

When our Agile model comes more from the Heart centre, we focus on creating safe spaces, we build highly collaborative environments and inspire each other to innovate and experiment. Relationships feel strong and trusted. People feel cared for and there is often a culture of mentoring and developing.

When we lead from the heart we might focus on building teams where people feel trusted and supported and know that the results will follow. 

The dark side of building heart-based cultures is that we can focus too much on safety and shrink from embracing meaningful challenge. If we retreat into the reactive heart space we can become the stereotypical nurturing parent, as we might call it in Transactional Analysis, where we over-protect and people-please preventing our teams from growing through challenge and autonomy.

The Gut

Our gut is really our core so working in tune with this centre can be incredibly powerful. Leading from here feels authentic and high integrity we can also enable each other to achieve great results. 

The framework for how we are working may fall by the wayside as we evolve in real time and focus on what we need to achieve in the moment. 

Working in this way requires trust, developed instincts and difficult conversations and we are likely to be in touch with our Vision and Purpose and creating impact with our work. 

When things don’t go according to plan then the gut centre can retreat to become controlling and our drive and ambition can be experienced as autocratic, perfectionist or unsafe. An over-reliance on this centre can also ignore the gifts of working from the head and heart centres.

An integrated approach

An integrated or holistic approach to organisational agility includes all of these centres and leverages their gifts. There is no one-size-fits-all model but if you want to leverage the benefits of working with agility then we encourage you to take stock of a few short questions and reflect on them with your leadership team. 

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