It is easy to get overwhelmed by all the ways you can incorporate agile and agile practices into your work and life, so I thought a short list of the most powerful skills would be useful. These are skills you can begin to hone immediately even if you aren’t working on an agile team.
Each of these skills will deliver improvements plus give you solid talking points as you advance your career!
1 – Focus on the essential work and cut through the noise: This is far easier said (or typed) than done, but it is one of the most critical keys to success for anyone who wants to get ahead. Concentrate on accomplishing only those tasks that deliver valuable results. This frees you up to spend your time on work that will help deliver for the end customer AND put your name in front of leadership. The work left behind as not done will be easy to justify if you can point to accomplishments that move the ball forward in larger ways.
2 – Remain calm under pressure: Steel is forged under fire and leaders are too. Ok, that may be a little dramatic, but you get the point. You are judged by your boss, your team, and your peers by how you handle yourself under pressure. You get to decide if you will be someone they see as always coming through for them or someone who complains or otherwise can’t handle tough circumstances. When you feel stressed take a second or two to visualize success. Decide what the optimal outcome would be and work toward it. Chances are you can get there or close enough to it to carve out a win and that is the mark of a leader.
3 – Coach your peers to succeed: Vince Lombardi once said, “Confidence is contagious. So is lack of confidence.” Your coworkers are not your competition, they are your teammates. Working with them to develop their skills and decision-making will ultimately pay off huge for you in the long run. Whatever organization you are in the people who will ensure your success are the people you help on your way to the top.
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4 – Be decisive: Making the wrong decision is almost always better than making no decision. That seems counterintuitive but if you consider a ship heading for an iceberg, while there may be merits to steering one way over another, making no decision will end badly. If you wait for perfect information to make perfect choices you will always be playing from behind. So, instead, take into account the information you have. Make an informed decision, but be willing to change course if new information presents itself.
5 – Organize and prioritize: The best leaders and employees are organized. They can put their hands on the right information quickly and they know where to look for answers. If you have to sort through 100 emails to find the right one, you are wasting time and giving up any advantage you may have had. Make organization a priority by setting aside time each week to review your goals, deliverables, assignments, ongoing metrics, and accomplishments. This work will likely not be asked of you but when your boss needs you to submit something showing what you have done for the year, you will be ready, when you want to polish your resume for that promotion, you are prepared, and when that casual conversation after hours turns into a job interview you have everything you need to prove your worth.
6 – Remain open to change: The unknown is always uncomfortable but those individuals who can thrive in times of ambiguity often emerge as leaders when the dust finally settles. When feedback from a stakeholder or customer upends the direction of the work, look at it as an opportunity to prove you can adapt and overcome with grace and style. After all, the goal is not to make a perfect product just the way the customer used to want it. The goal is to delight the customer with exactly what they want at the time of delivery, or even better exactly what they never knew they had to have.
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Keep your career goals in mind as they will often align with the best practices of delivering value day-to-day as well. These skill will improve your productivity at work, they will increase your visibility and value, and finally they will give you very specific things to discuss when it comes time for your review or promotion.