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How to Be an Effective Agile Leader

Updated: Apr 10

Agility and agile project management skills are important keys to leadership effectiveness and success in all industries. In the rapidly changing business environment, leaders must be able to adapt quickly in order to deliver results.

Are you an agile leader? Discover what it takes and how to develop the agility you need to continue to grow as a leader in the current business environment.

Elements of Agility: 2 Key Approaches

Agility began as a way to improve software development but is now applied and considered essential in many other contexts, including leadership and project management, as well as HR, operations management, and more. The foundation of agility is based on two key elements:

  • Taking a team approach

  • Being adaptable

Being team-focused and adaptable are important keys to leadership and project management success in the rapidly changing business environment, regardless of industry or solution provided.

The Agile Methodology and Mindset

Apply the agile methodology requires remaining open to change and prepared to adjust quickly and effectively. An agile leader can't be averse to change or cling to what has been done in the past. An agile leader will never use "but it’s always been done that way" as an argument (or excuse!) to keep things the same.

Instead, agile leaders recognize the need for change and manage change effectively. Moving from a traditional approach to one that is agile requires two shifts in a leader's mindset.

  • Sense and respond in real time: Move away from a mindset focused on predicting and planning to sensing and responding what is needed in real time.

  • Design an environment conducive to results: Move away from a mindset that's laser focused on managing to deliver results to instead emphasize designing a work environment that's conducive to results.

Sense-and-Respond in Real Time Mindset

Taking a “sense-and-respond” approach requires owning the reality that it's not always possible to predict what will occur in the future. An agile leader acts based on the knowledge that there's no way to know every variable ahead of time, or to always identify causes and effects.

Mindset: Design an Environment Conducive to Results

There's no room for micromanagement in a work environment that's truly conducive to results. Becoming or growing as an agile leader requires letting go of the perception that a leader’s role is to tell people what to do. Agile leaders don't try to direct and control how things are done, but rather empower team members to succeed and excel.

Key Habits of an Effective Agile Leader

Are you an agile leader? The answer lies in what you do on a daily basis. Agile leader apply habits and strategies like the ones below into the way they approach working with team members and project stakeholders.

  • Plan and strategize in real time, rather than relying on an inflexible plan

  • Actively seek new learning to broaden perspective and understanding

  • Make decisions quickly and act on them based on current information

  • Maintain flexibility to change and adapt as new information is learned

  • Facilitate a culture of empowerment built on a foundation of trust

  • Implement structures to facilitate smooth, barrier-free information flow

  • Proactively share feedback with others and seek feedback from others

  • Foster a truly collaborative work environment and encourage ownership

  • Actively encourage and support employees to continually improve skills

  • Incorporate roles designed to improve workflow and speed of delivery

Grow as an Agile Leader or Project Manager

Agility is increasingly emphasized in organizations of all sizes. Leaders and project managers in every industry can benefit from learning the skills and strategies required to grow as an agile leader.

Our online agile training programs and classes provide a path for you to do just that. Not only that, but these courses are preapproved for continuing education or recertification credit for credentials that you or your colleagues may already hold, including HRCI (PHR, SPHR, and aPHR), PMI, and ATD. These courses are also approved by the International Accreditors for Continuing Educaton and Training (IACET).

We also offer live instructor-led webinars, on-site classes, and conference or meeting presentations focused on agile leadership, as well as applying agility to human resource management. These programs include:

Whether you're just getting started with agile leadership or if you're ready to add to the foundation of agile skills you've already developed or are seeking to earn an agile certification, you can absolutely grow as an agile leader through completing training focused on helping you improve your skills, then implementing your new expertise in the workplace. Sign up for an online class today or contact us to book an instructor-led presentation for your company or organization.

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