This is the fourth of six posts detailing leadership lessons drawn from Agile by a recovering conventional manager – me!

In conventional management, all too often there is huge temptation for senior leaders to drive their organisation very hard, putting everyone under huge pressure and creating a culture of overwork and burnout.  This way of working often leads to injury to team members’ physical or psychological health, and to people just getting fed up and leaving. People with a desire for a balanced life tend to be driven out, undermining the diversity of the team.

The Agile founders discovered that their teams were most productive over time if they found and held a sustainable pace.  “Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.” This approach moves away from management as distrustful slavedriver and builds mutual trust and safety, particularly trust in the team’s own ability to find and hold its own sustainable pace. Curiously enough, it actually seems to improve long-term productivity as compared to an over-pressured style.