Agile Transformations Require Unique Leadership Qualities as described by Paul Ellarby. Agile / Scrum / The Guardian Podcast

Agile Transformations Require Unique Leadership Qualities. Recognizing the challenges that accompany an Agile transformation for any company and knowing how to manage them successfully is the topic on The Guardian Podcast with Ryn Melberg this week. The Guardian Podcast is the only program of its type devoted to the subject of Agile, Scrum, SAFe, and rules of corporate governance. SolutionsIQ’s Paul Ellarby is a guest on the podcast and shares his over 20 years experience with Agile transformation and change management with Ryn’s listeners. The Guardian Podcast can be heard on iTunes, Soundcloud, and at

Not Everyone Is Supposed To Be A Coach

During the interview, Ellarby explains that lots of certified practitioners will spend a couple of years on the job and then decide to become a coach. He also believes in the lessons that can be learned from failure. “Not everyone is cut out to be a coach,” Ellarby said. “To be a successful coach requires an individual to have a lot of depth. How have they failed and what did they learn from that failure. If someone says that they have not had any failures then I am not really very interested in hiring them.”

Agile Transformations Require Unique Leadership Qualities as described by Paul Ellarby.

Agile Transformations Require Unique Leadership Qualities as described by Paul Ellarby.

Executive Leaders In Transformation

Transformation is tough on everyone, including the coaches. Ellarby says that Agile practitioners are quick to complain about executive leaders but are not always as anxious to help educate them. “Executives can’t change fast enough to suit us at times because they do not understand what we are doing,” Ellarby said. At the same time Agile coaches and practitioners complain about executives but do little to bring them along or increase their understanding. We should probably spend more time informing the leaders and less time complaining about them.”

Resistance To Change

Often the most common ‘blockers’ to organizational transformation are the client employees. Many have experiences where the data from a change shows progress; so to scuttle change people will turn their resistance to organizational change on to the change coach. “They make it personal,” Ryn stated. “We don’t like him/her; he or she is bossy and we do not want them to coach us.” Ellarby has a great deal of experience with this and had an answer for Ryn. “I only see this once a week if not twice,” he said.

Ellarby had some excellent suggestion for those who encounter push back on change. “Ask for direct and specific feedback,” he said. “Did you talk directly about this? Can you give specific examples of what happened? Ellarby is always sensitive to client needs, but has seen the active and passive aggressive tactics used to prevent change. “Sometimes, a client employee will say ‘I can’t be coached by someone’ so in those instances we make a move,” he said. “But I watch very closely to see if there is a pattern of behavior in the client’s employee where they are trying to move my coaches out. Then I go to the company sponsor for a talk with them about behavior from employees who are resistant to change.”


Change Management is the foundation of any Agile transformation. And Agility transforms talented individuals into high-performing, self-organizing teams with the Agile capabilities to deliver customer value quickly and consistently.

To learn more about Paul Ellarby and SolutionsIQ visit,

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