Agile Leader

CAL II Grads—Uncovering and Overcoming My Saboteurs

April 9, 2021

I must say that this peer review was one of the most challenging tasks I’ve had in the last 6 months. Why you ask? Because the first requirement was to identify ‘one’ thing I learned about myself during the course!! Are you kidding me? One? Just One? I learned so many things about myself that I found it very difficult to hone-in on just one, but I finally did.

The thing I learned most about myself

I actually have control of the ‘inner’ voices that detour me from many things, in my personal life and professionally. I learned that these so-called inner voices, or saboteurs, are controllable if I learn to listen and be aware of them. The self-awareness was the hardest part for me, in identifying which saboteur was rearing it’s ugly head, and how to control it.

What did I try and what was the outcome I was trying to achieve?

Once my top 3 saboteurs were identified, I worked on identifying when they were the loudest. What was I doing at the time, how were they making me feel, etc.? First, I had to figure out which saboteur was talking to me, once I realized which one it was, I worked on managing the voice. Here’s what I mean. As part of the self-awareness, my goal was to recognize the specific thoughts I was having to identify which saboteur it was by understanding the characteristics and determine in my mind what management tactics I was going to take to redirect the inner voice from a basement or destructive situation to a more constructive or balcony approach.

An example of what I tried, my observations and the impact on others is as follows

My number one saboteur is a Stickler. Yes, I’m a perfectionist and I micromanage a great deal, or at least I did before this CAL II course. There were several situations where my team at work would generate executive level PowerPoints for me in their areas of responsibility. They were very proud of their materials and worked long hours to get them perfect. When we’d have our reviews of the materials, I was the worst and criticized every single little thing wrong (not enough space between paragraphs, incorrect punctuations, etc.). This happened every time I would review deliverables my team had created.

Once I became aware of this saboteur, I tried to identify what I was doing and when. I also noticed the negative impact it had on my team that worked so hard to make everything perfect. Some of them even commented that I’d never be happy and would always find something wrong with the slides. I also recognized that my micro managing down to the smallest of details was not very productive for either the team or myself.

So, what I did in this specific case was not sweat the crossing the ‘t’s’ and dotting the ‘i’s’ but rather, coach and develop the team on data quality and to read something 2 or 3 times before sending out. I also learned that by not micromanaging, but rather set expectations that the team understood and could deliver to make such a difference.

By empowering them I also learned that it freed me up to do other things that I needed to be doing in the first place. When the team got over the shock that I no longer wanted to review everything sent outside our organization, it gave them a sense of more authority and this one little change changed the teams moral while benefitting me at the same time.

In regard to where I’m at in my agile journey

I believe my current state is that I’m probably halfway up the hill in regards to where I want to be as a leader. Meaning that I have learned so much from this CAL II team and my accountability partner that I want to continue the journey and “Take the hill” from a leadership perspective.

Agile tools, techniques, and continuous improvement isn’t just for Scrum Masters or Product Owners! As Leaders, we are constantly learning and improving throughout our career and lifetime. CAL II gave me a plethora of tools and resources to use in my journey. 



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