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Fresh Agile Voices – Episode 1 – Anjali Leon

Fresh Agile Voices Episode 1 with Anjali Leon

Anthony Mersino

September 29, 2020

1:39 PM

I am excited to share with you my discussion with agility and resilience coach Anjali Leon. This is our first agile coach interview in what I plan as a series of discussions intended to bring some diversity of thinking and opinions and to amplify voices that may not otherwise be heard. I am calling it Fresh Agile Voices or FAVs! I will be featuring a new agility expert each month so stay tuned.

Anjali Leon is an agility expert and lean thinker. In addition to coaching leaders, teams and Product Owners, Anjali conducts workshops on a number of topics including leadership and design thinking. I’ve known her for years and more recently had the chance to serve with her on a few different panel discussions where we have had some fun providing our views which don’t always align. This short interview provides an opportunity to learn more about her background, how she got into technology and agile, and how she became a coach.

Check out the video of our discussion here:

You can reach Anjali on her website at: PPL-COACH.com

Follow this link to schedule some time on her calendar: Anjali Leon on Calendly

You can also find her on LinkedIn: Anjali Leon on LinkedIn



FAVs Ep1 – Anjali Leon 

Anthony: So I’m really excited today to be speaking with Anjali Leon, who I’ve known for about four or five years through our blogging, but we’ve really had the opportunity in the last year or so to work together on a couple of different panel discussions. And that has been really fun and exciting. I love the viewpoint that Anjali brings to the work, and I thought it’d be great to feature her in this little interview and give us the chance to learn more about her.

So welcome. Anjali why don’t you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about yourself.

Anjali: All right. So I’m, Anjali, I’m an agility and resilience coach. I’m based in Boca, Raton, Florida, and I run a small boutique coaching and consulting practice called PPL coach, where we bring value-driven and values-based. people product and personal leadership. And I specialize in design thinking and leading agile ways of working. and that’s what I bring into all of my training and coaching solutions.

Anthony: When did you first realize you were into the agile space?

Anjali: Actually, I think it was back in 2010. I was a software engineer back then, working for a small company and very much, kind of working in the agile mindset, very collaborative, very customer-focused but we couldn’t scale. You know, we were so dynamic. Right now, I think we, we would, we would probably refer to it as a little bit chaotic. So we couldn’t bring in new people, our quality was a little lackluster, so we needed some kind of process in order to be able to grow and scale. And I kind of took on the mantle of product, project management. Just working on an instinct. One day, my boss dropped a book on my desk, the agile book from Ken Schwaber and Mike Beedle, the little black book.

And that was my first introduction to scrum. So we just bought a tool. And, you know, visualize that work and visualize that time boxes and started. I was Scrum master I took on the role of scrum master amongst all of my other hats.

Anthony: With no training?

Anjali: And, you know, we had a little bit of training from, somebody in a sister company who had had experience with agile and scrum.

So we had a little introduction to it. But it felt so straightforward and simple, simple, you know, and, six or whatever. Now it’s 10 years later, it has become a whole profession for me. So it wasn’t that simple after all.

Anthony: So certainly, you’ve grown over the last 10 years. At some point you must have said to yourself, I’m an Agile coach now. When was that point when you realized you were an agile coach?

Anjali: So I actually had not heard the term agile coach until 2013 and it was picking up Lisa Adkins’ book. Coming out of those pages, I saw possibilities that I had never seen before. I saw myself in that book. I saw, how I showed up. How I wanted to show up and to think there was a role out there, but I could do that all the time was just amazing. So, I kind of started my, my journey.  And kind of claiming that role for myself. I didn’t actually call myself a coach until I think it was maybe in sometime in 2014 after I attended the agile bootcamp with Lisa Adkins and Michael Spayed. I tried it on and I said, how does this feel like to call myself an agile coach?

And that’s where this deeper journey started for me. Lisa Adkins’ Agile Coach Framework really helped me understand the various roles I might play as a coach. So some situations require me to teach some new concept. If it’s something that’s completely new to somebody.

Sometimes I might need to mentor it. So, some mentor that person. Yeah. So sometimes the person is learning something new and just need somebody to give them feedback and kind of move them forward. Sometimes I’m in the facilitator role and sometimes I am in a professional coaching role. And when I first started, I was much more comfortable in the teacher and mentor role that came very natural to me. I didn’t really know a lot about professional coaching. Again, that boot camp opened my eyes to the space of professional coaching. And so over the last couple of years, that’s been where I have intentionally seek training and practicing and coaching. So I’ve become much more comfortable in that space and, you know, knowing all those things and continuing to grow in each of those four areas allows me to adapt.

So I think early on the difficulty was the not doing, you know. As a software engineer, I was so used to having something, an output, right. Some tangible deliverable. And sometimes a coach, you’re just, you’re there holding space for somebody else’s growth.

And taking that little bit of a step back and allowing the rewards to be the other person’s growth, the light in their eyes, the shifts that’s happening for them, that took me a little time to be okay with that, to be able to see my value. Oh, the value that I brought to the table. I still struggled with it a little bit, but it’s much better. Now, I sometimes struggle with patience because I think I want for my clients more than they actually want for themselves yet.

Just knowing that they have their own pace for their journey. And I have to be patient with,

Anthony: Let’s talk a little bit about the company you started, why did you start your company and you know, what are the clients that you’re trying to serve and who do you hope to help?

Anjali: So I never saw myself starting a company or being an entrepreneur. And so initially it was when I decided to focus completely on coaching and kind of moving into the agile world wholeheartedly, I didn’t know where I would land. The company that I worked at at the time I had been there for such a long time. I love the people I worked with.

Relationships are super super important to me. Connections are super important to me. As I left that world, I want it to land in a place I could have similar relationships and have a similar impact, but now doing a different thing. So, I didn’t know where I would land, so I thought I would do some consulting work. Actually, in search of the place that I would land and settle.

Anthony: Oh, I see.

Anjali: And little did I know that as I started coaching and consulting and my work in that, my work in that mode was really resonating with the clients and the freedom that it allowed me. Allowed other things to emerge in me that I hadn’t seen in myself before. I started becoming, you know, the creativity, because I didn’t feel any constraint of working in somebody else’s box, allowed me to try things and take risks.

And the more risks I took, the more. I was able to feel like myself and the more it resonated with the people that I worked with. So it was kind of a self-reinforcing thing. And I figured I learned how to run a business. So there’s aspects of being in the business and then, working on the business. And I learned that working on the business part, the accounting and the invoicing and all of the, you know, proposals and all of that aspect, figured I could do this.

And so now here I am six years later and I have my own coaching and consulting practice, where I get to do the best of both worlds work in it and work on it.

Anthony: And maybe it’s just me, but I’ve noticed that your material tends to trend more toward the product ownership role and the value, but also the soft skills, the emotional intelligence and stuff that’s very near and dear to my heart.

Anjali: For me, I believe that in order to be able to get the outcomes that we’re looking for in terms of agility. And now I think even more so very clearly resilience. Our ability to bounce, you know, from any kind of challenges that we’re experiencing. And we have enough of them right now that we need both.

We need the being and the doing. We need the abilities that we possess inside of us to influence the actions that we take. And that has always been my stance. I just have not felt like I wasn’t in the place to be able to articulate it, like I’m able to articulate it now. I feel much, much more confident about the fact that we need both in order to be able to succeed.

And yeah, it’s the two it’s both. That’s why I say the value-driven. So we’re kind of focused on what is the most important thing that we want to bring forth in the world and bring forth in our work. And values based. So what’s the foundation on which all of that emerges. And I think that those two pieces are more and more important.

So it’s a blend of the two. So even when I teach product management, I teach product leaders to show up in a certain way to get outcomes that they want. When I work with people leaders, it is. yeah how do you show up? And what are the things that you are asking your team to be able to deliver? So it’s being able to bring both to the table.

Anthony: What advice would you have for other women who are interested in coaching or interested in technology? Do you have any tips or advice for them?

So if it’s something that makes you come alive, go do it. If it’s technology that makes you energized and feel alive then go do it. And then you’ll find a way to learn, to practice it. So that’s the first thing. Know yourself, know what motivates you and what energizes you. And if it comes to that technology, I had a ball being a woman in technology. And as far as coaching, again, I think that we bring a lot of our natural, feminine instincts that can help, in the coaching world, in the coaching space. So feel confident to come into that space if that’s what speaks to you.

Anthony: Some of my favorite pair of coaching has been with women. I think the styles are very complimentary and, it’s been a lot of fun. And the panel discussions we’ve had together with different clients have been fun.

Anjali: Absolutely. I just finished a CAL class with Bob Galen. I co-taught with him. And it was, again, that kind of experience where you not only just add to each other’s style, you’re creating something new that could not have existed with each of you individually. Magic can happen when you, when you bring different perspectives to the table.

Anthony: Is there any other opportunities that people could have to see your work or connect with you either through the CAL or some other opportunity?

Anjali: Absolutely. And by the way, the CAL class, I hope to be able to teach with Bob again in the future. But he leads the class with different people, which is he gives, you know, he brings different voices to the table, which is a wonderful way to work through that.

So I have a, the value-driven product owner class that’s targeted to product owner. More practical class on how they can actually, champion and manage the product backlog. And a most strategic class of product management called vision to value. And that’s great for product managers, directors of product, to really define what value is and create that alignment, autonomy for people to be able to execute on the vision and outcomes of the organization.

And I have an emotional intelligence workshop also coming up on October 8th, I offer these set of workshops on a quarterly basis. So if you can’t catch it this quarter, there’ll be a new lineup coming up, the first quarter of next year and so on. And you can always go to my website, www.ppl-coach.com and see what’s the latest that’s happening and join me for one of my classes.

Anthony: Awesome.

Well, I’ll add the links on here so people have those. Is there anything else that you’d like to say that anything that we haven’t covered?

Anjali: Not really at this time, there’s a lot of things that I philosophically believe in that I hope that, over time there’ll be more and more of that conversation happening, but I think that there’s an opportunity.

There’s a real, not just an opportunity. I think the new value proposition for organizations is doing well and doing good. And I think that’s going to become more and more a part of my work and what I talk about going forward. So stay tuned for more of that.

Anthony: Well, we will definitely stay tuned to your work Anjali. I’m really appreciative of the time this morning. And thank you for sharing your insights and the opportunity to learn a little bit more about you.

Anjali: Thank you. Thank you, Anthony. Thank you for this opportunity. I appreciate it.

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