Agile Leadership

A rapidly changing world needs a new kind of leadership

The world is rapidly transforming and a new breed of leader is required. An individual that is competent in responding swiftly to technological innovation, changing social relations, new divisions of labour and new ways of working.

The challenges we face are more complex than ever before. Organisations need to absorb and adapt to change much quicker than before. An agile approach is required. Agility however is not the goal itself, but as a means to an end. It’s about focussing on what is valuable to customers. The complexity and uncertainty we face also calls for a different form of control. Responsibilities will now be held across all levels within the organisation. The decision-makers will increasingly entrust responsibility to experts and we see a shift from pure management towards leadership at all levels.

The need for Agile Leaders

There is a great need of Agile leaders. Not is a new formal role, but informal. Someone can be a release train engineer, tribe lead, agile coach, scrum master, product owner or Agile PM. But only a true Agile Leader is someone who inspires others to put the agile mind-set into practise.  This will enable organisations to deliver valuable results to both customers and stakeholders. The Agile Leader, therefore, can have a huge impact on the organisation agility and responsiveness to change. Leaders that make an impact by bridging the gap between aspiration and reality are true Agile Leaders.

The International Project Management Association (IPMA) based in over 70 countries has developed the international recognized Agile Leader competence baseline with 29 competences with underneath around 150 Key Competence Indicators / Measures. An IPMA certified Agile Leader needs to prove that he has incorporated the competences listed below, in his role.

Perspective competences:

  • Strategy
  • Governance, structures and processes
  • Compliance, standards and regulations
  • Power and interest
  • Culture and values

People competences:

  • Self-reflection and self-management
  • Personal integrity and reliability
  • Personal communication
  • Relationships and engagement
  • Leadership
  • Teamwork
  • Conflict and crises
  • Resourcefulness
  • Negotiation
  • Results orientation

Practise competences:

  • Design
  • Business goals, requirements and value
  • Scope
  • Time
  • Organisation and information
  • Quality
  • Finance
  • Resources
  • Procurement
  • Plan, adapt and control
  • Risk and opportunity
  • Stakeholders
  • Change and transformation
  • Select and balance

Will this mean that the role of Project Manager will disappear?

Not at all, you see that companies do have a strong need of someone who has the overview and is in control of a certain project or multiple projects. Searching LinkedIn I see thousands of job requests for Project Managers at various levels in organisations. An agile mind-set is however inevitable. You also see that many companies run transformation projects and they require a project manager / agile leader (PM with an Agile mind-set) to fulfil these important roles.

Next to my international role as Program Director I am a SAFe Program Consultant (SPC) and a Lead IPMA Agile Leadership assessor. Click here to see my professional background.

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