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Leadership Lessons for an Agile Organization

By Arooj Shakeel
July 25, 2023

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Leadership, comprehension, and adaptability are the secrets to a thriving agile organization. Agile leadership is crucial for an organization to implement real agile business change. Because agile fundamentally alters how your software development teams collaborate and communicate with IT and the business, it can be challenging to implement it into your software development life cycle.

Businesses and IT executives’ strategies must incorporate the Agile Manifesto’s ideals and principles. So, for instance, if they genuinely desire autonomous teams, they must give up hierarchical management practices and act as change agents. 

Agile was developed to develop things about which you may not initially have complete knowledge. Agile moves quickly and is exploratory and iterative. It encourages developers to take chances and produces large quantities of software. It does not lend itself to strict management procedures. Managers must embrace an outcomes-based approach while allowing their developers the flexibility to take chances and fail. 


Agile Leadership vs. Good Leadership

Many of our readers would believe that we added the word “agile” to what they already know to be “excellent leadership.” 

We contend that this is untrue and that, in contrast to, for instance, traditional leadership, agile leadership has a distinct vibe. Leadership styles and the desire to increase capacity and extend capabilities to be more nimble are different. Additionally, this feels quite distinct from leadership when leaders practice agile because of a more extensive command. 

We contend that agile leadership is “great leadership” that improves, not merely “excellent leadership,” as some think.


A continuum of agile leadership

An agile mentality does not perceive things from a binary standpoint, such as elegant or not. Agility should be viewed as a continuum rather than an all-or-nothing trait. Although the agile leader adjusts, many influential organizational leaders do so infrequently. Though not all leaders use a command and control approach, those that do are not invariably ineffective. However, due to their mentality, many leaders find it more difficult than others to change. Agile leadership is a dynamic trait that evolves and becomes better with time. We believe the guiding principles describe agile leadership in some measure.

These actions may be taken by business and IT leaders to guarantee agile success inside their organizations.


1. Give developers adaptable platforms

Avoid using best-of-breed, monolithic development platforms. Instead, give developers tools that are modular and have few dependencies. These ought to be built using microservices designs for the cloud. 

Due to the too-close coupling of the services and applications they host, monolithic platforms might impede development. In case one service fails, The entire development team has an impact. 


2. Change the way you do your budgeting

Although many adopt the agile theory, they do not alter how they finance their development companies. Agile efforts are funded through annual budget cycles, incompatible with agile’s fast-moving, constantly changing nature. 

Budgets should be distributed on a rolling basis while investments are regularly assessed to ensure that the activity receiving funding adds value rather than merely ticking boxes.


3. Become agents of change

Leaders must facilitate change since agile is a process rather than a final product. This may be challenging since it calls for letting go of previous habits. 

They should continually study how to best implement agile in their businesses while becoming change management students. Considering that no individual can always know what is best, they should also be modest and receptive to collaborative thought.


4. Combine Agile and DevOps

Organizations must combine Agile with DevOps to maximize its benefits. Even while leaders may implement agile and DevOps independently, it serves little use to quickly develop new features and functionality if it takes months for such improvements to be implemented in real life. 

The success of your agile program depends on integrating agile with DevOps and automated CI/CD pipelines that comprise tools for agile project management, build automation, test environment provisioning, continuous delivery, and release automation.


5. Embrace agile in corporate governance

Agile alone will not produce the desired business advantages until combined with corporate governance processes like budgeting, business planning, strategic planning, portfolio planning, and enterprise architecture. For this, there are frameworks like DAD, LeSS, and SAFe. 

Apply these frameworks carefully by prioritizing important activities that match your goals and will aid in progressively changing company culture.

While some of your employees could favor Spotify’s more aggressive engineering methodology, others might choose a more moderate framework like SAFe. But problems can arise with these setups. Decide which framework best fits your culture and agile/DevOps objectives.



The talent competition compels us all to play at a higher level, comprehend the demands of the next generation of IT talent, reevaluate our management strategies, and reconsider the idea of people as employees. These are the key issues facing corporate executives today.

The parallel to the army is intriguing since, in reality, no organization is more “agile” than the military forces, which continually organize and delegate tasks to take the initiative at crucial times. 

When you talk about self-organizing teams, you are talking about the capacity to act morally without being directed. The agile organization is now the most acceptable way to instill individual trust, autonomy, and accountability. This is how to build a company that attracts and retains the top individuals. This supports human leadership, which enables everyone’s personal growth.

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