Agile Leadership: concept, principles, and characteristics of Agile leaders

Agile leadership is a very useful concept when talking about managers at any market. Managers have the key responsibility to be the head of a group of people, and a Zippia research suggests that companies must take a closer look at their leaders.

While 83% of organizations believe in the importance of developing great leaders at all levels, only 5% will transform this idea into actions. In this scenario, agile methodology may come in hand to find answers to companies’ challenges, such as recruiting leaders or working on their development in-house.

What is Agile leadership?

Agile leadership is a method to conduct teams based on Agile methodology and principles. This ultimately means being willing to invest on continuous improvements, encourage flexibility and adaptation when times of uncertainty, among other actions.

The main purpose is to capacitate leaders that are not only capable of leadership but can also empower their teams to seek autonomy.

And this might be the answer to businesses facing low motivation or lack of purpose. When managers prove to be acting in the best interest of their team and to be concern with their wellbeing, engagement and efficiency increases exponentially.

What are the principles of Agile leadership?

In opposition to the 4 principles of Agile methodology, Agile leadership does not come with its own pre-established principles. However, across literature it is possible to find propositions of what are the key principles of this method.

  • Purpose: this is the starting point to generate motivation and engagement.
  • Values: these must be shared by all employees, as well as be a key factor to leaders across the board.
  • Transparency: common interest information must have unrestricted and broad access.
  • Organization: self-management instead of autocratic or vertical management.
  • Autonomy: autonomous initiatives must be encouraged and not punished.
  • Clients: meeting customers’ expectations and needs is the centre of attention of every action and strategy.

What are the characteristics of Agile leadership?

It is worth mentioning that the word Agile in this matter is not synonymous of speed or hurry. In fact, it stands for eliminating anything superfluous, shortening delivery period. Thanks to that, this leadership must meet certain characteristics, aimed at extracting the best possible performance from their teams.


Although this requirement is a common word on any job description, for Agile leaders it goes way beyond taking initiative. It is not only about solving the most complex problems, but doing it with responsibility, accountability, and critical census.

In other words, when faced with any decision making, Agile leaders will take the lead and guide decisions on data and information from reliable sources.


Instead of authoritarian leaders, there is a horizontal management style that values multidisciplinary and autonomous teams. The Agile leader will empower every team member to make their own decisions and propose insights.

When having an open channel of communication, this leader must be flexible enough to receive feedback and possibly give in to other people’s opinions if they are based in solid compelling arguments and data.


The agile manifest stands against limiting methods and process bureaucracy. It is expected that professionals from companies that adopt this management style are ready to think outside the box.

An Agile leader recognizes the importance of having a plan and is always willing to follow it through, although it is not bound to it. If needed, leaders can always improvise solutions for the well-being of the business, calculating risks and taking responsibility for their decisions.


Agile leaders will decide their actions always calculating the pros and cons. They will take risks, but do it in the most conscious calculated way possible, anticipating possible negative and positive consequences.


These leaders will never seek recognition for themselves. Success is always a team achievement and collaboration is fundamental for collective success. They will lead by example, stimulating every team member to give their best and valuing the assets of all the parts involved.


Agile leaders, as the name suggests, will apply project management methodologies such as Scrum and Sprints to focus their efforts on delivering solutions 100% for customer satisfaction. They will base their decisions on structured data extracted from Business Intelligence software, that will provide evidence of what does or does not work.

Accelerated Growth

As presented before, adapting to changes in the process is more valuable than sticking to a plan. By doing so, delivering period will be shorter, opening schedule for more projects. By delivering projects more efficiently, a business is able to learn much faster and achieve accelerated growth.

This is the reason why many start-ups and disruptive companies grow at such high rate.


This relates to transparency and collaborative principles. By stimulating communication and opening channels for feedback, every team member is aware of their part on the big picture and what is expected of them. This increases the feeling of security among team members and helps them meet projects deadlines.


This is perhaps the most important characteristics of Agile leadership: transparency.

It does not mean being inconsequently honest at any point, but to inform people at the right time about what they should be aware to create a trustful relationship and work more efficiently.

The same works for customers, which should be informed real time about their projects. This ethic is fundamental for leaders that must find solutions to reduce delays or inconsistencies, always keeping the client aware of these step backs.

Do you already apply Agile leadership at your company? Follow us on LinkedIn and let us know!

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