What makes a good Agile leader?

What makes a good agile leader?

A good leader doesn’t delegate change. Delegation of change is often a delegation of responsibility.

You can empower people, sure, but you need to ask yourself whether you have truly empowered those people or whether you are setting them up to fail.

  • Have you awarded them full responsibility?
  • Have you awarded them the appropriate and necessary authority?
  • Are they capable of dealing with everything that accompanies significant change?


For a leader to have great agility, I like to see them addressing and fixing problems that are beyond the control and influence of their teams.

I also like to see those leaders working closely with teams to truly empower them so that they have more control, grow their influence, and can solve complex problems.

Problems which impact the team’s performance and limit their ability to deliver real value to customers.

Additional things I would include in my assessment of a great leader is:

  • Their ability and willingness to coach people.
  • Their willingness to mentor people in agile ways of working and help them to grow their own agile capabilities.
  • Their commitment to helping people develop their skills and capabilities.
  • Their ability to coach other leaders within the organization to address how people are recognised and promoted within the organization and facilitating the conversation about whether those practices need to change.

A great leader seeks to address horizontal growth opportunities. Traditional leaders tend to focus on upward growth and the creation of silos whilst agile leaders tend to look at the breadth and depth of growth opportunities.

Great leaders also look at how work is currently funded and explore new, innovative ways of funding work.

In traditional management, senior leaders spend 90% of their time in back-to-back meetings.

Agile leaders invest a great deal of time with their teams and customers, actively looking for opportunities to help the team improve, remove impediments to progress, and to help solve problems that matter most to customers.

In my experience, these are the great traits of a good agile leader.

John Coleman has deep experience and expertise working with executives, #leadership teams and product development teams to achieve increased #businessagility and create environments where creativity and collaboration produce high-performance teams.

If you are interested in helping your team or organization achieve greater agility and want to explore agile training options, visit our training page.

If you value coaching and would like to work with a deeply experienced agile and executive coaching specialist, visit our coaching page.

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Agile Leadership,Executive Agility
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