Jan 03, 2018 | 5 min read

7 Agile Leadership Tools that Free Up Time for Strategy

By: Patrick Emmons

7 Agile Leadership Tools that Free Up Time for Strategy

No matter what the context, building is inherently different from maintaining. Whether we are talking about a business, a department, or a team, the build phase requires a completely different toolset. Having the perspective of an entrepreneur, I put together some agile leadership tools that I have adopted from my time spent working with an EOS Implementer (Entrepreneurial Operating System) and have been integral to my success when venturing into the unknown. Whether you’re an entrepreneur like myself or an intrapreneur trying to build something within your organization, these tools will help you transition smoothly from the build phase to achieving high performing agile teams and freeing up time for strategic leadership.

Setting and Communicating the Vision

According to the “2017 State of DevOps Report,” key attributes of a transformational leader include vision and inspirational communication. Transparency and vision go a long way in aligning individuals’ goals with organizational goals, both of which should align with your core values. To keep everyone’s attention and energy focused on the right destination, here are some tools I rely on to build and maintain DragonSpears.

Core Values

At the outset of building DragonSpears, it was important to look at my team and determine what positive behaviors defined our culture. These would serve as the guiding principles by which we make decisions. Our commitment is to hire, fire, reward, and recognize based on these values. However, it is not enough to write them down and never look at them again. We recognize people on a weekly basis in all staff meetings based on how they lived the core values in the previous week. Also, all our performance discussions call attention not only to a person’s expectations in their role but expectations in living the core values.

Monthly Vision Meetings

EOS has a variety of tools for how to get maximum impact from internal meetings, and we took their core concepts and adapted them to our unique circumstances. The leadership team was meeting quarterly to set the vision for the company and to evaluate progress on our path, but we wanted to create transparency for the entire organization, so we started including everyone in the meetings. After all, the more people understand the business, the more they can help, thus freeing up time for me to be strategic. At these meetings, we discuss our 1 year, 3 year, and even 10 year vision, and break that into S.M.A.R.T (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-based) goals that can be delegated throughout the organization. We also celebrate our core values, yet again, and review our progress on our path.

Team Building

When you’re in the build phase, you need a team that derives joy out of creating order from chaos; they don’t need all the answers laid out for them. Instead, they can run fast and hot and carve out processes on their own. Here are a set of tools I took from the EOS toolbox that help me build a world-class team.

People Analyzer

For this tool to be effective, it’s imperative to have a set of core values. The People Analyzer helps agile leaders evaluate whether a person positively exemplifies your core values.


If your team lives and breathes your core values, the next step is to look at the task at hand and evaluate if they Get it, Want it, and have the Capacity to do it (GWC). Do they understand the role? Do they truly want to take on such a challenge? Do they have the technical skills, professional skills, energy, and time to do the job?


Once you have the right people in the right seats, it's important to continue having check-ins to ensure that the passion, energy, and understanding remains strong. For this, I use a tool called the 5-5-5 to chat with team members and ensure they understand the 5 core values, 5 immediate goals, 5 key accountabilities of their role.

Carving out Time

Once you have the right agile team in place, start moving away from working in the business to work on the business. From my perspective, it’s easy to fall into the trap of having your hands in every aspect when building something from scratch. Using the tools above, you have a formidable team in place so, “let it go, let it go.” If that‘s easier said than done, here are a couple more EOS tools that can help.

Delegate and Elevate

This exercise forces you to list your work under 1 of 4 quadrants based on how much you enjoy the activity and your level of proficiency with it. The categories are:

  1. Love/Great
  2. Like/Good
  3. Don’t Like/Good
  4. Don’t Like/Not Good

The idea here is that anything listed under the 3rd and 4th quadrants are great tasks to begin handing off to someone else to free up your time and give someone else opportunities to elevate their game.

Clarity Break

No matter what has happened throughout the day or week, it’s important to have pre-scheduled appointments with yourself to reflect and clarify your vision for the future. With the right team in place and continued opportunities for pushing work to others that would find it more challenging, you can begin working more strategically. If you read my previous post on how I applied a Kanban process to household chores, you know that I carved out a little free time for myself on the weekends. With my newfound peace and quiet, I like to take a little “me time” on Sunday nights for a clarity break and get all my visionary ideas for the future down on paper.

Whether you’re building a business, a department, or an agile team, these tips should help you make a smoother and quicker transition from chaos to clarity. Setting, communicating, and over-communicating vision, surrounding yourself with the right people, and carving out time for strategy are all critical leadership behaviors that will keep you in a strategic position. For more tools for building world-class teams and freeing up time to work on the business rather than in the business, Contact DragonSpears.

About Patrick Emmons

If you can’t appreciate a good sports analogy, movie quote, or military reference, you may not want to work with him, but if you value honesty, integrity, and commitment to improvement, Patrick can certainly help take your business or your career to the next level. “Good enough,” is simply not in his vernacular. Pat’s passion is for relentlessly pushing himself and others to achieve full potential. Patrick Emmons is a graduate of St. Norbert College with a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science and Mathematics. Patrick co-founded Adage Technologies in 2001 and in 2015, founded DragonSpears as a spin-off dedicated to developing custom applications that improve speed, compliance and scalability of clients’ internal and customer-facing workflow processes. When he is not learning about new technology, running a better business, or becoming a stronger leader, he can be found coaching his kids’ (FIVE of them) baseball and lacrosse teams and praising his ever-so-patient wife for all her support.