Your Agile Leadership Journey

What is an Agile Leader?

An Agile Leader is a person that works in a leadership role within an organization and aims to make their organization more agile and more innovative. The term “leadership role” can be interpreted in many different ways. One can be in a traditional leadership role i.e. have people and teams reporting to them. One can also be in a non-traditional leadership role such as a Scrum Master or a Product Owner.

Agile Leaders are aware of their organization’s need to become faster at changing what they do and how they do it. Based on that awareness they constantly develop the organization towards being fitter in dealing with the fast pace of change in the marketplace.

Agile Leaders are also aware that there is no one-size-fits-all leadership style, hence constantly grow their leadership toolkit and practice the application so that they can demonstrate leadership agility in various contexts.

The Agile Leadership Journey at Agile Academy


Start with the foundations of Agile Leadership.

Certified Agile Leadership Essentials


Enable your Agile Teams as Agile Leader.

Certified Agile Leadership for Teams



Make your whole Organization grow agile as Agile Leader.

Certified Agile Leadership for Organizations


What skills should an agile leader possess?

In addition to many traditional leadership skills such as being a good communicator, problem solver, and conflict navigator, Agile Leaders need to possess a lot of self- and situational awareness so that they realize and know when to apply what type of leadership.

Further, they also need to embrace uncertainty and with that a growth mindset in order to continuously grow as leaders and continuously grow other people within the organization.

In addition to skills, they tend to demonstrate the following characteristics:

  • Care about their people and the organization
  • Commitment to their organization, but also commitment to specific initiatives
  • Curiosity to learn new things about customers, markets, and their own organization
  • Creativity i.e. the ability to come up with new ideas in terms of what to do and how to do it
  • Courage to follow their curiosity and try new things
  • Competence as leaders, and in various fields that they might be responsible for
  • Clarity in terms of where to go as an organization or a team and in terms of how they communicate that clarity to others
  • Consistency in the way they act especially according to the values they want to establish within the organization


What Tasks does an Agile Leader have?

Agile Leadership is not a specific role, but rather a specific way on how leadership is enacted. So as with other leaders within an organization, Agile Leaders tend to have a wide range of tasks.

Some Agile Leaders primarily focus on developing the organization i.e. the machine that builds the machine. We usually say that these leaders work ON the organization compared to working IN the organization.

Other Agile Leaders are focused on improving the performance of teams and teams of teams within the organization. And again others lead products and initiatives that create value for internal or external customers/ stakeholders.

Based on the area of focus, Agile Leaders do very different things and need to have very different skillsets in addition to the general leadership skill set.

What is NOT an Agile Leader?

Putting Agile Leader on their business card or their LinkedIn profile does not make someone an Agile Leader. As with other skills in life leadership – and with that also Agile Leadership – needs to be practiced, needs to be learned.

A leader that has no clarity on where the organization should go, hence changes their mind all the time, can call themselves “agile”, but that is not what we mean with agile leadership.

A leader that uses a command-and-control approach to demonstrate their own decisiveness and vision is not necessarily an agile leader, because they do not allow for other leaders to grow within their organization.

A leader that delegates everything and considers themselves to just be a coach, hence is not willing to take responsibility for the important initiatives within the organization, is a coach, but not an agile leader.

We guess, you get the point. Rather than focusing on what agile leadership is not, we’d like to focus on what agile leadership is.


What are the Requirements for an Agile Leader?

We can distinguish between individuals, teams, and the organization having requirements towards agile leaders. For individuals, it is important to know that your leader has your back, cares about you, and is invested in your professional development. The role of the agile leader is to help individuals develop competence.

For teams, agile leaders create the environment in which they can succeed. This means that first and foremost these teams need to have clarity on where they are supposed to go.

Without clarity most probably all of their well-intentioned decisions will be wrong. Second, teams need to be trusted to make decisions so that they can build things faster and learn faster. An agile leader gives trust and helps the team to win other stakeholders’ trust as well. Last but not least, an agile leader helps to remove impediments.

For the organization, agile leaders constantly work on making the organization not only fit for the future but also fit for today. They challenge existing structures, policies, and metrics and through that help refine and reinvent the organization’s operating system so that it allows the organization to deliver better products and services in continuously better ways.


Which certifications are available at the Agile Academy?

The Agile Academy offers the world’s best Agile Leadership trainings delivered by trainers that are vetted by us and other leading organizations e.g. the Scrum Alliance. Currently, our partners offer the following trainings:

  • Certified Agile Leadership® Essentials (CAL-E)
  • Certified Agile Leadership® Teams (CAL-T)
  • Certified Agile Leadership® Organizations (CAL-O)
  • Certified Agile Leadership® II (CAL-II)

The training is offered as either 1-3 day intense workshops or in a modular fashion e.g. 11 modules over the course of 2 months so that you can integrate it better into your work.

How do I become a certified Agile Leader?

Once you successfully participate in one of our workshops, you will be a Certified Agile Leader. Now, does this mean you are a great leader already? No! As mentioned before, it takes a lot of practice.

Our goal is to create awareness and share with you applicable tools and techniques for you to grow, but you need to do the hard part of working on yourself.

Your Agile Leadership Journey

What Makes Me a Good Agile Leader?

From our perspective the most important characteristic of any agile leader is your willingness to continuously learn. That’s what we refer to as a growth mindset. As long as you want to learn and do not consider yourself as a master of the art, you will become better. 

That willingness to learn combined with discipline to practice and the ability to respond to feedback are great ingredients for becoming not only a good, but a great Agile Leader.

The Agile Leadership Journey at Agile Academy


Start with the foundations of Agile Leadership.

Certified Agile Leadership Essentials


Enable your Agile Teams as Agile Leader.

Certified Agile Leadership for Teams



Make your whole Organization grow agile as Agile Leader.

Certified Agile Leadership for Organizations


What books are available on the topic of Agile Leadership?

The list of great books for Agile Leadership is long… below you will find a list of books to start with. They come from different domains, but help you get a broad perspective and good understanding of the topic in general.

Which books should I read?

For participants of the Agile leadership trainings we recommend a look at these books:

Leadership Agility by Bill Joiner and Stephen Josephs

Your Brain at Work by David Rock

Quiet Leadership by David Rock

Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Turn the Ship Around by David Marquet

The Future of Management by Gary Hamel

Tribal Leadership by Dave Logan

What Got You Here Won’t Get You There & Triggers by Marshall Goldsmith

A Leader’s Guide to Radical Management by Steven Denning

Multipliers by Liz Wiseman

First, break all the rules by Don Clifton (Gallup)

Mindset by Carol Dweck

The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle

Radical Candor by Kim Scott

Competing Values Leadership by Kim Cameron, Robert Quinn, Jeff Degraff, et al

Organizational Patterns of Agile Development by James Coplien & Neil Harrison

Beyond Performance by Scott Keller and Collin Price

Leading Change by John P. Kotter

Managing Transitions by William Bridges

Lean Startup by Eric Ries

Reinventing Organizations by Frederic Laloux

Powerful by Patty McCord

It does not have to be crazy at work by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hanson

Measure what Matters by John Doerr

Creative Selection by Ken Kocienda

Switch by Chip Heath

Read more about Agile Leadership?

We have compiled a constantly growing collection of interesting articles about agile leadership for you:

Two Paths towards Agile Leadership

Two Paths towards Agile Leadership

Nearly every leader wants their organization to be agile because they know that the rules of business have changed. The speed of innovation is the only remaining competitive advantage. Almost every leader supports operational innovation in their...

read more
Agile Leadership: Does Gender Matter?

Agile Leadership: Does Gender Matter?

Anu Smalley and Kate Megaw explored the question of whether there is an imbalance between men and women or general gender differences in the areas of Agile Leadership, NewWork and Scrum in their presentation during the June event (Recap). They presented...

read more

We accompany you on your Agile Journey!

Besides the certified trainings of the Agile Leadership Journey, we offer various Deep Dives that support you in various everyday situations as an Agile Leader to get the best out for your business.

Agile Academy

Other Interesting Courses for Agile Leaders

Objectives & Key Results (OKR)

Implement strategic goals quickly and measurably and let your employees actively participate in shaping the company.