A Leader’s Guide to Culture-Shaping: Repertoire of Values

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A Leader’s Guide to Culture-Shaping: Repertoire of Values

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This is a follow-up article to my initial Culture-Shaping post for Leaders. You can find it here…

First, I want to state something that I didn’t in the first post. 

I respect the role, art, craft, and challenges of leadership in agile contexts. I REALLY do! It’s not for the faint of heart and, in a word, it’s HARD!

So, when I provide leadership advice or perspective, I’m not providing it in a trivialized, marginalized, unempathetic, or judgmental fashion. I’m only trying to be helpful. Helpful to those leaders who are struggling with what it takes to lead in agile contexts. It’s those leaders who are my primary persona in everything I’ve written and will write around agile leadership.

Not that I’ve cleared that up…

Andy Bleach wrote a wonderful article entitled—Embracing Values – Agile’s Toughest Challenge. I’d never read anything from Andy before, so I was pleasantly surprised when I read it. And I thought it would be a nice addition to my thoughts around Leadership and Culture-Shaping.

Here’s the LinkedIn post with comments – https://www.linkedin.com/posts/stefanwolpers_embracing-values-agiles-toughest-challenge-activity-6638782881915256832-bAAR

I thought that exploring the 5-Scrum Values from a micro-step example perspective might be a great way to amplify how walking our values, is a complimentary part of Culture-Shaping. 

It also gives a nice nod to the Scrum values. I think they’re often overlooked by leaders, those implementing Scrum and others. They miss how important values are in the shaping of culture, both by the leaders and every member of the organization.

I’ll add a couple of micro-step examples per value to energize your thinking—


I’m committed to my leadership First Team. Caring deeply about each of my team members and looking for ways to help each of them.

I’m committed to holding each team member “accountable” to our value system. That includes pulling folks aside and reminding them of their value responsibilities. That is, each of us walking our talk.

I’m committed to entering the organizational ecosystem each day and making cultural micro-steps. That is, exhibiting my/our shared values and behaviors.

I’m committed to delivering quality and value to our clients and stakeholders. But not at the expense of the team’s health or wellbeing.


I will show the courage to not succumb to undue business, leadership, or peer pressure to pretend we have more organizational capacity then we do.

I will show the courage to be vulnerable and reveal my own shortcomings, fears, mistakes, and failures. To also ask for help from others.

I will show the courage to take micro-steps in Culture-Shaping each and every hour of every day. To look for opportunities to show everyone the way forward.

I will show the courage to speak truth to power at every opportunity. Respectfully, clearly, and firmly. No matter the circumstances.


I will focus on delivering real customer value, measuring it, and confirming it with customer collaboration.

I will focus on relentlessly managing our product pipeline WIP limits so that we achieve effective flow and value delivery.

I will focus my leadership attention each day on my teams and individuals in our organization. Reaching out in one-on-one interactions to appreciate their efforts.

I will focus on encouraging our teams to bit off only what they can chew. And also balancing features against refactoring and internal product investment work.


I will be open and transparent every day. I will also work hard to create a safe culture (not SAFe :-), where team members can be open and transparent. 

I will be open to challenges and feedback from every team member on a daily basis.

I will be open to receiving feedback from my peers. Open to being wrong and to being short-sighted. Also, open to providing and asking for help.

I will be open to new ideas from everyone. Open to leaving behind my preconceived notions of structure and what works. Open to trying experiments and taking calculated risks. Also, open to the possibility of failure, which leads to learning.


I will respect every role within my company, whether I understand it or not. I will endeavor to meet people where they are and seek to understand them first.

I will respect myself, taking time for self-care and reflection. Finding like-minded collaborators (mentors, coaches, friends) who serve as mirrors and sounding boards for my ideas.

I will respect each team member’s right to be invited to our agile culture. That I can’t “make someone” be agile, but that I can only inspire them and model the behaviors for them.

I will respect the customer by engaging them in every aspect of agile delivery and never assuming that I know what they need.

I hope that these value-based examples of behaviors provided some insights into how you might apply value-based thinking into your Culture-Shaping efforts.

Clearly, they weren’t exhaustive. Nor were they intended to be. My hope is that you’ll use these as examples, then co-create your own lists/examples for your value expansions with your leadership peers.

As we explored in the original Culture-Shaping article, I wanted to add some additional nuance to the topic. Here I’ve added a focus on Values. And I only explored the five Scrum values. There are many more that you can, and should, explore on your own.

I believe that values are the bedrock of Culture-Shaping. They’re the thing we should check each morning, reminding ourselves of “what are” our Values. And deciding how will we be “walking in them” today as part of our Culture-Shaping journey of one micro-step at a time.

And remember, values are something you can’t impose on your organization. You can’t make people adopt your values. All you can do is inspire them, show them in operation, and shape the culture by your leadership example.

Stay agile my friends,


#LeadersSetCulture, #LeadersShapeCulture, #CultureShaping

BTW: there will be a 3’rd article in this series where we’ll explore the Leadership Circle Profile and the insights it can provide for your Culture-Shaping efforts.


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