6 Indians who can't swim and only 4 boats - the importance of the Inclusive Agile Leader

Everyone talks about the importance of an inclusive culture, but how do you actually create it? Team cultures start with the leader, and this presentation will provide leaders with ideas and insights they can put to practical use right away.

I will share my story of leading a large scaled Agile program (8 scrum teams) where I led a team of highly creative, talented and intelligent individuals who were all subject matter experts. I couldn't tell the team what to do - my role as a learning leader was to empower the team to have the freedom to explore possibilities, fail fast and learn. As Program Director I actually didn't make that many decisions, but I brought people together in an environment where they felt safe and supported to lead themselves.

Using the voices of the team I led for 2 years from their entries in my leaving card, I will share how the key themes of their feedback, energy, caring and fun, come together to create a culture where team members feel valued, trusted and able to do their best every day and where everyone learns from each other, including me as the leader.

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Outline/structure of the Session

  • The ‘HOOK’ and the ‘WHY’ mins 1-5: Tell the start of the story behind the presentation’s title (6 Indians who can't swim and only 4 boats) which came from a team event I ran and link the story to why an inclusive culture and learning is so important
  • (slide: bright sunny photos of the team kayaking on Sydney harbour)
  • The ‘WHAT’ mins 6-10: Introduce the leaving card from the end of the 2 year project, and explain how the themes (energy, caring and fun) of learning leaders came from the diverse team themselves (and not me!) using their entries on my card.
  • (slide: picture of the card and highlight one or two hand written entries)
  • The ‘HOW’ mins 11-25: Tell short stories of my leadership style and experiences around the themes of energy, caring and fun to bring them to life for the audience, 5 mins for each
  • (slides: use photos of team interactions and having fun)
  • Audience ‘SELF REFLECTION’ mins 26-35: Interactive audience sessions using example scenarios that people will role play/discuss with the person next to them. This will help them see their natural style - how much energy, caring and fun do they naturally have? And if they don’t have it, how can they build up these elements of their leadership?
  • (slides: to support the activity with instructions)
  • The ‘CONCLUSION” mins 36-40: Make the link to the outcomes the project delivered, and how team members felt valued, trusted and able to perform well and learn from each other. Then close on how the story from the intro ended and how team members reflected on that day.
  • (slides: more nice pics of the team and sunny harbour)

Here is an example of what I mean by energy, caring and fun:


  • how you respond to people in every day interactions and the choice you have with your mindset
  • how visible you are and how you talk at team ceremonies, workshops and events to inspire and motivate
  • how you make new and exciting things happen for and with the team, experimenting with new ideas and ways of doing things


  • how you make time for everyone in the team despite a typically challenged leadership calendar (i.e meeting every new starter and going for a walk)
  • how you provide advice and guidance to support people both in their current role and for the future, regardless of who they are employed by
  • how you are genuine and authentic at all times, bringing your true self to work every day, acknowledging and appreciating the efforts of the team


  • how you use team offsites, physical activities, volunteering, cooking and creative workshops to create a sense of fun and doing something different
  • how you use humour and laughter to create a light hearted and positive environment
  • how you bring these together across a culturally diverse team to make it feel like their home

Learning Outcome

Target Audience

  • Leaders (it is their attitude, values and behaviours that shape a team’s culture and learning)

  • Team members

Key takeaways

  • For leaders, practical ideas and tips to create an inclusive culture

  • For team members, knowing what an inclusive culture can feel like and the desire to be part of one

Target Audience

Leaders and team members


Nothing. This talk applies to all leaders regardless of the delivery framework used

schedule Submitted 1 week ago

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