Alexis Monville (en)

The Essence of Leadership: Insights from Agile Tour Bordeaux

At the recent Agile Tour Bordeaux conference, attendees had a unique opportunity on Friday afternoon: a segment dedicated solely to exploring ideas through open space technology. Within this dynamic framework, I had the privilege of conducting a workshop that probed the nature of leadership. The high participation and engagement from attendees made this discussion exceptionally enriching.

What is Leadership?

Our session began with a straightforward question: “What is leadership?” Participants around the table shared their perspectives, leading to a myriad of words and phrases, such as “Action,” “Vision,” “Authenticity,” “Inspiration,” and “Curiosity.” As we revisited these initial descriptors, we added depth and texture. Words highlighted in green on our workshop sheet further clarified and enriched our initial understanding.

Creating Conditions for Emergent Leadership

A prominent theme that emerged was that of emergent leadership. Instead of appointing leaders based on traditional criteria or hierarchies, emergent leadership is about crafting conditions for leadership traits to manifest organically. Such environments, characterized by trust, autonomy, and collaboration, enable individuals to shine, exhibiting leadership qualities that may go unnoticed in more structured settings.

Developing Leadership Skills: A Continuous Journey

When we surfaced how to develop our leadership skills, there was a consensus: practice and aiding others are paramount. This sentiment strongly resonated with the Agile Manifesto’s opening lines, “We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it.” Given that we were at an Agile event, this alignment was fitting and heartening.

Leadership: An Invitation, Not an Obligation

Leadership, as we discussed, is an invitation, not an imposition. While the allure of leadership might be strong for many, it’s paramount to recognize it as a choice. Some might opt not to embrace leadership roles, and that is perfectly valid. True leadership acknowledges individual preferences, understanding that everyone carves their unique path.

Gratitude and Reflections

I want to express my deep gratitude to the organizers of Agile Tour Bordeaux. Attending the event as a participant was a refreshing and enlightening experience. The seamless organization, the diversity of ideas, and the vibrancy of discussions were truly commendable.


The Agile Tour Bordeaux was more than just a conference; it was a journey of discovery and introspection. Our leadership workshop, nestled within the open space segment, bore testament to the eclectic mix of ideas and perspectives present. Leadership, as we discerned, transcends titles or authority; it’s about fostering environments where everyone can step up, lead, and make a lasting impact.