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Who is an Agile Leader? Key Qualities, Skills and More

19th Feb, 2024
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    Who is an Agile Leader? Key Qualities, Skills and More

    Agile leadership is a management approach characterized by the capacity to remain composed under pressure, respond quickly to unusual situations, be open to creative thinking, find ways to motivate staff and keep teams on the ground and on course. Leaders of organizations can sustain and even flourish in periods of turmoil and change by placing a higher priority on people than processes, concentrating on client needs, and viewing change as adding value. Agile leaders are more inclusive, democratic, and humane than traditional ones. They provide the "why" to their teams and rely on them to find and present the "how." They give their teams the freedom to organize themselves, come up with ideas, and carry out the work.

    Who is an Agile Leader?

    An Agile leader is someone who embraces the Agile methodology and embodies its values and principles. They prioritize collaboration, continuous improvement, and adaptability. They are able to lead teams through complex projects while maintaining a focus on delivering value to the customer. Agile leaders also foster a culture of learning and experimentation within their organizations.

    What does an Agile Leader Do?

    An Agile Leader is responsible for creating a culture of agility within an organization. They promote collaboration, innovation, and continuous improvement, while empowering their team to make decisions and take ownership of their work. They prioritize customer satisfaction, adapt to changing circumstances, and encourage experimentation and risk-taking. Agile Leaders also facilitate communication and transparency among team members, stakeholders, and customers, and they actively seek feedback to improve their leadership and the organization's performance.

    Who Can Be an Agile Leader? 

    No matter what position they hold within the organisational structure, anyone can serve as a leader. An agile leader is a person who embraces and practises an agile mindset in order to spread it throughout our organisation. Leadership is a reflection of a person's presence. Any member of the team can serve as a leader in any capacity; leadership is not dependent on the role. When you are a leader, individuals decide to adhere to you because they appreciate or are motivated by you personally. It has to do with how you act, behave, live your life, and interact with others. Making a suggestion is a necessary part of leading at times. Sometimes it involves embracing and supporting the opinions of others. A leader must occasionally ask a question before reserving the spotlight for others' ideas. Enrolling for a CSM certification online will enable you to master the agile leadership skills.

    Characteristics of Agile Leader

    1. Be the change you want to see in the world

    Agile leadership is about being the change you want to see in the world. People are inspired by those who set a positive example and take an active interest in their own growth. Gandhi once said, "Be the change you want to see." This is accomplished through deeds rather than words. Agile Leaders cultivate qualities like compassion, kindness, and care for their subordinates in order to become humble and empathetic. Motivating leaders put their own needs first before those of others.

    2. Agile leadership is about being the change you want to see in the world.

    People are inspired by those who set a positive example and take an active interest in their own growth. Gandhi once said, "Be the change you want to see." This is accomplished through deeds rather than words. Agile Leaders cultivate qualities like compassion, kindness, and care for their subordinates in order to become humble and empathetic. Motivating leaders put their own needs first before those of others.

    3. Organizations get better with good feedback

    Agile Leaders set the example by bravely asking for meaningful, practical, and prompt input from colleagues and other peers because it can be difficult to receive feedback and is usually considered as a horrible experience. While asking for feedback is crucial, agile leaders also take the time to make sure that they are actively considering the advice given to them by their team members in order to close the feedback mechanism. Agile leaders set an example for giving constructive criticism that is direct, frank, and respectful.

    4. For work to be fulfilling, people need it to have a purpose and meaning

    Agile leaders put a lot of effort into creating and communicating a shared vision and purpose. There is a meaningful and applicable change vision for the organization.

    5. Emotion is a foundation for increased creativity and innovation.

    Agile leaders motivate team members to give their all at work. They are aware that emotions play a significant role in the human experience and that when people manage their emotions, they can more fully realize their potential.

    6. Leadership is ingrained throughout the organisation

    The leadership of an organization or change initiative should be agile in every way. Realizing everyone's leadership potential contributes to the organization's capacity for growth and change more quickly. An agile leader's job is to deepen the organization's leadership capability by giving their team members chances to take the reins.

    7. Leaders delegate the proper amount of power and authority

    Agile leaders understand that when people are empowered, engaged, and energized, they perform at their best. The agile leader must have the ability to empower people in order to balance the shifting demands and tensions within the organisation.

    8. Collaborative communities outperform individuals in terms of success

    Agile leaders create communities that are based on a high level of respect, trust, and productive working relationships. The Agile Leader is aware that a productive workplace requires people to be forgiving, optimistic, giving, and grateful.

    9. In an organisation, terrific concepts may originate from anywhere

    The best solutions to problems typically come from those who are closest to them. Regardless of a person's position or status, agile leaders empower themselves to be receptive to their influence and ideas. In order to accomplish this, the agile leader takes a moment to pause, pay attention, and give their team members ample opportunity to share their ideas for improvement.

    Agile leadership principles rarely alter but practices constantly change depending on the situation.

    Techniques of Agile Leadership 

    Certified agile leadership course will enable you to learn the below techniques:

    Agile-certified leaders have a number of workplace patterns that set them apart from those who follow other leadership philosophies.

    1. Leading by example: Agile leaders don't just speak; they also lead by example. When they want to change something within their team, they might start by making the change themselves in order to set a good example for the other team members.

    2. Creating strong teams by fortifying individuals: As opposed to a situation where a team might only have one or two members who excel in their roles, an Agile organisation values having entire teams that are competent in carrying out tasks.

    3. Promoting self-organization among employees: As part of the Agile approach to project management, which encourages staff members to assume responsibility for their own performance at work, one fundamental tenet of Agile organisations is that their teams can operate with little supervision.

    4. Focusing on quantifiable data: The use of fact based and concise data becomes crucial as employees act with some extent of governance, at least in regards to finishing their own tasks, in an Agile organisation.

    5. Encouraging innovation across the entire organisation: Agile managers comprehend that employees across the board, especially those who closely interact with key operations, are often the source of innovative ideas. These leaders are able to both inspire their team members and allow themselves to be inspired.

    Agile Leader Skills

    Agile-certified leaders have a number of workplace patterns that set them apart from those who follow other leadership philosophies.

    1. Honesty

    Since it would diminish their sense of self-worth, people won't follow leaders who are dishonest. As a result, we must remain vigilant to transparency and ensure that we carry out our commitments. We ought to be honest about our errors rather than trying to hide them. This is not only a good leadership strategy for us, but it also sets the tone for how we'd like our team to work.

    2. Forward-looking

    People anticipate those in charge of them to know where they are going. To ensure that everyone on the team knows what their ultimate goal is, leaders should be able to paint a clear picture for the group.

    3. Competent

    Team members are generally willing to offer specialized knowledge when needed, so leaders don't necessarily need to have the best technological expertise on the team. However, group leaders ought to be capable and not a liability or embarrassment. People are interested in being motivated in their work, not just satisfied.

    4. Co-create

    the capacity to jointly develop the vision and direction. The leader establishes the focus on providing value for clients as well as the business alongside the teams.

    5. Facilitate

    It's inspiring to see teams take charge of a situation as a leader. The role of the agile leader is to foster a setting in which individuals and teams can develop, collaborate, have fun, establish trust, and go above and beyond for customers. In this dynamic environment, telling people what to do or what choices they need to make won't help you get the best performance out of them. Agile leaders must encourage and support an environment at work where staff members can flourish and take pride in their work.

    6. Experiment

    Agile leaders support and mentor their teams as they conduct experiments. Teams can learn from errors, experiments, and testing in a safe environment that they help to create. Even when the experiment's findings are unfavourable and have unfavourable effects, senior management and other departments are informed. In order to learn efficiently and securely during the experiments, the Agile Leader serves as a mentor.

    7. Lead the culture 

    Agile leaders constantly work to improve their cultures in order to inspire their teams. Self-managed teams must have a positive culture to succeed. The team's culture provides its lifeblood. Without it, for instance, collaboration is impossible and teams are unable to effectively concentrate on the impact on the customer. Instead of wanting to control and dictate to their teams, leaders should develop the culture.

    Agile Leadership Examples

    We can quote Amazon’s approach as one of the examples of agile leadership

    1. Customer Centric Approach

    A prevalent customer-obsessed mindset permeates daily life at Amazon, as it does in all genuine examples of Agile management. Obsession with the customer extends beyond top management, sales, and marketing. Everyone should be fixated on understanding and improving the effectiveness of what they do for the client. This was stated by CEO Jeff Bezos in a 1997 letter to shareholders, and Amazon has steadfastly adhered to that fascination ever since.

    Bezos is renowned for leaving one empty seat at a conference table to let everyone know that the person occupying that seat is "the most important person in the room." In the end, these symbolic actions are carefully calculated, and frequently repeated messages designed to reaffirm Amazon's guiding principles.

    2. Barclays Bank's Approach

    Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD) and Agile Coaching.

    Barclays' transformation to Agile was not a coincidence. The financial institution actually implemented a sizable, company-wide strategy that was entirely justified given their size and organisational structure.

    Barclays sought to find a more effective method of shifting attitudes among its teams, which are spread across several nations. They were able to provide people-first coaching that would assist teams in streamlining process decisions and increasing productivity through using Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD). In order to make many workspaces more collaborative and less individualistic, they also started redesigning them.

    Result: Throughput increased by 300%, 80 apps' code complexity was reduced by 50%, and test code coverage increased by 50%. 800 teams at Barclays have successfully transitioned to an Agile methodology, reporting higher levels of happiness, quicker product launches, and greater adaptability than before, enabling them to react more quickly to internal feedback or outside changes. You can enhance your knowledge and leadership skills in Agile by taking KnowledgeHut’s Agile course online and become a valuable asset to any organization. Enroll now and start learning!

    How Would You Implement Agile Leadership?

    In a workplace environment that is constantly changing, business agility is crucial. Companies can respond to external factors more quickly by adapting concepts from agile methodology. Adopting an agile mindset enables teams to test out improved products and procedures, which aids organisations in visualising improvement on a finer scale. Agile leadership is the key to achieving long-term success and employee well-being. It has emerged as one of the most successful strategies for adjusting to the complexity of our current situation and the new reality. Since then, the idea has expanded over and above scrum masters and the realm of software development to assist workers in numerous industries and professions in becoming more effective, efficient, and productive.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    1What Does it Mean to Be an Agile Leader?

    Being an agile leader means being able to adapt to changing circumstances, fostering a culture of continuous improvement, and empowering your team to make decisions and take action. Agile leaders prioritize collaboration, experimentation, and learning, and focus on delivering value to customers quickly and efficiently.

    2What is the role of an agile leader?

    An agile leader is responsible for creating an environment that promotes agility, collaboration, and continuous improvement. They empower their team members to take ownership and make decisions while ensuring alignment with organizational goals.

    3How do agile leaders promote collaboration?

    Agile leaders promote collaboration by fostering open communication, encouraging teamwork, and creating a culture of psychological safety. They ensure that team members have the resources and support they need to work effectively together.

    4How do agile leaders handle change?

    Agile leaders embrace change and are able to adapt quickly to new circumstances. They encourage experimentation and are willing to take calculated risks to achieve organizational goals.

    5How do agile leaders measure success?

    Agile leaders measure success based on delivering value to customers, promoting continuous improvement, and achieving organizational goals. They use metrics such as customer satisfaction, team productivity, and cycle time to track progress and make data-driven decisions.


    Geethalakshmi Radhakrishnan


    Dr. Geethalakshmi, a CSP-SM is a diversified leader with 12 years of rich experience who is known for maintaining a track record of successfully improving the growth of the companies in the Lifesciences and Pharmaceutical industry. Specialized in Client management, Product Management, Business Development, Project Management, and stakeholder management.

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