Agile leadership

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The ability of a leader to be able to lead well in a wide range of circumstances especially new, changing and ambiguous situations.


Agile Leadership is associated with mode four leaders (Modes of Leadership) who have the ability (and agility) to operate in any mode (system of thinking) and most importantly see from the perspectives of the other modes. It is this ability to think in a number of different ways that gives such leaders their agility. This is also introduced within the concepts of Agile Business Management[1] as the primary management model for adaptive and agile organisations.


The attributes associated with Agile Leadership are (from Iacocca & Witney[2] and Wilkinson[3]):

  1. Ambiguity tolerance
  2. Curiosity
  3. Creativity
  4. Courage
  5. Conviction
  6. Emotional Resilience
  7. Critical Thinking
  8. Vision
  9. Flexibility

Agile Business Management[edit]

Within Agile Business Management, the primary job of an Agile Leader is to encourage and empower cross-functional teams. This demands that team members are granted sufficient personal responsibility, accountability and authority to deliver the customers’ requirements. An Agile Leader can support this in three ways:

  1. Provide an environment where it is safe to fail.
  2. Provide all the information necessary to make appropriate decisions.
  3. Uphold decisions made by the staff.

There are two primary anti-patterns for an Agile Leader; micromanagement and absenteeism. If a process is under control, and within allowed tolerances, staff should have the authority to deliver, without management intervention. This assumes a robust monitoring and reporting process, to identify when management intervention becomes required. This brings us to the other extreme, an absentee manager. A manager is ‘absentee’, even if they are physically in the office, if they do not monitor or engage with their staff to ensure delivery. Without a manager to eliminate impediments, it becomes nearly impossible to meet any schedules or budgets.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Leybourn, E. (2013). Directing the Agile Organisation: A Lean Approach to Business Management. London: IT Governance Publishing: 38–45.
  2. ^ Iacocca, L. & Witney, C. (2007) Where have all the leaders gone? Scribner Book Company
  3. ^ Wilkinson.D.J.(2006) The Ambiguity Advantage: what great leaders are great at. London: Palgrave Macmillain.
  4. ^ Leybourn, E. (2013). Directing the Agile Organisation: A Lean Approach to Business Management. London: IT Governance Publishing: 41–42.

External links[edit]