20 Qualities of an Agile Leader

20 Qualities of an Agile LeaderTeams of all natures – agile software development or otherwise – need inspirational leadership to perform their best.

That leadership may, or may not, come from the organisation’s appointed leaders. But all teams need it, nevertheless.

So what are the qualities of inspirational leaders?

  1. Strong communication – storytelling and listening
  2. Passion for learning and intense curiosity
  3. Focus on developing people
  4. Having fun and very energised
  5. Strong self-belief, coupled with humanity and humility
  6. Committed to making a significant difference
  7. Clarity of vision and ability to share it with others
  8. Dogged determination and often relentlessness
  9. Strong focus on priorities
  10. Not afraid to show some vulnerability
  11. Regular use of reflective periods to think and learn
  12. Real passion and pride in what they do
  13. Confidence and trust in their teams, giving them real empowerment
  14. Respect for all (team members, temps, customers, suppliers and directors alike)
  15. Clear standards of ethics and integrity; openness and honesty
  16. Ability to drive, inspire and embrace change and continuous improvement
  17. Positive attitude at all times and an innate ability to be diplomatic in any circumstances
  18. Lateral thinking and ability to find innovative ideas and solutions to problems
  19. Ability to inspire and motivate others
  20. Willingness to take (calculated) risks

These are qualities that differentiate good leaders; people others would be willing to follow.

These are also qualities of ‘servant leadership’. An admirable leadership style that is particularly emphasised in agile software development methods.

How many of your team – or appointed leaders – demonstrate these qualities; the qualities of inspirational leadership?… and if you work for me, please don’t answer that :-)


See also:
Agile managers need to turn their thinking upside-down
Agile teams must be empowered
10 key principles of agile software development

10 Responses to “20 Qualities of an Agile Leader”

  1. Anonymous says:

    ‘Agile’ is a hoax. Stop it!

  2. Anonymous says:

    I checked this out from your link on the agile forum. I like it alot.

  3. Derik says:

    This is a great list.

  4. Anonymous says:

    So that describes you does it?

  5. Kelly Waters says:

    I wish :-)

  6. Anonymous says:

    I’m worried. We’ve been “doing Agile” for 3 mths and our boss/scrum-master only meets numbers 8, 18, and a couple of bits of the others. Any ideas, Kelly?

  7. Kelly Waters says:

    Hmm, bit worrying. Could change your leader maybe? It’s not me I hope? :-)

    Seriously though, maybe you have to rely more on these qualities coming from within the team. Emergent leadership rather than appointed.

    To counterbalance an appointed leader, emergent leaders need doubly strong character, because of the appointed leader’s authority in the organisation.


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  9. Creevo says:

    I saw no mention of dexterity or charisma. You wouldn’t last long in the Slorg tunnels beneath Krannerock Bane, my friend.

    We lost more agile men than the lot of you mewling pups in those dark days. Lorgore was built like a wall made of three of ye and could still outrun an owlbear with a carnal fancy for his hide, and the banshees still tore his innards out his his gullet while he watched.

    Nix Fixit could slip through a Festarian sewer grate and that damned gnome knew he didn’t have a chance of keeping pace. He gave himself so the rest of us could escape- they kept throwing themselves at the wall of flame bursting out of his hands until we thought they had stopped.

    I remember the look on his face when he turned to me- almost peaceful. It was silent, then the hands burst up from the ground beneath him. All those hands- he didn’t even fight.

    Adia disappeared into the shadows- damn that elf to the rotten hells, saving her own skin.

    Just as we saw the sunlight break through the tunnel entrance, Delmarus lost his footing and snapped the bone in his ankle. I wanted to stop to help him but I knew it would just damn us both. The sunbeams danced on his holy symbol as those oily tentacles wrapped around his face.

    Don’t talk to me of agility and leadership; ye’re just boys playing number games with a fantasy.

    Now stop clutterin up my scrying stone.

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