Doing Complexity Leadership Theory: How Agile Coaches at Spotify Practise Enabling Leadership

19 Pages Posted: 20 Feb 2019

Date Written: March 2019

Abstract

Complexity leadership theory (CLT) is about balancing formal and informal organization to leverage dynamics of Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS) and produce learning, creativity, and adaptation in organizations. Based on interviews with sixteen agile coaches (AC) at Spotify, this study examines how AC practice enabling leadership, a key balancing force in complexity leadership. Coaches practice enabling leadership by increasing the context‐sensitivity of others, supporting other leaders, establishing and reinforcing simple principles, observing group dynamics, surfacing conflict and facilitating and encouraging constructive dialogue. The AC as complexity leader values being present, observing and reacting in the moment. Findings suggest flexible structure provided by an attentive coach may prove a fruitful way to navigate and balance autonomy and alignment in organizations.

Suggested Citation

Bäcklander, Gisela, Doing Complexity Leadership Theory: How Agile Coaches at Spotify Practise Enabling Leadership (March 2019). Creativity and Innovation Management, Vol. 28, Issue 1, pp. 42-60, 2019. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3337982 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/caim.12303

Gisela Bäcklander (Contact Author)

Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) ( email )

Lindstedtsvägen 30-100 44
Stockholm, SE-100 44
Sweden

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