What an Agile Leader Should Look Like

June 24, 2022

To avoid the worst of the fallout from storms (and to minimize their impact on Organizations), Teams need a guiding light. A captain. Or in Agile’s case, a Leader. 

The right Leader understands their role well enough to switch seamlessly between the different hats they should wear—coach, consultant, mentor, facilitator, teacher. They also exhibit certain characteristics that help define them as a Leader.

Characteristics of an Agile Leader

Listening. Leaders have traditionally been valued for their communication and decision-making skills. While these are also important skills for Leaders, they need to be reinforced by a deep commitment to listening intently to others. A Leader seeks to identify the will of a group and helps clarify that will. He or she seeks to listen receptively to what is being said. Listening, coupled with regular periods of reflection, is essential to the growth of the Leader.

Empathy. Leaders strives to understand and empathize with others. People need to be accepted and recognized for their special and unique spirits. One assumes the good intentions of coworkers and does not reject them as people, even if one finds it necessary to refuse to accept their behavior or performance.

Awareness. General awareness, and especially self-awareness, strengthens Leaders. Awareness also aids one in understanding issues involving ethics and values. It lends itself to being able to view most situations from a more integrated, holistic position. As Greenleaf observed: “Awareness is not a giver of solace–it is just the opposite. It is a disturber and an awakener. Able leaders are usually sharply awake and reasonably disturbed. They are not seekers after solace. They have their own inner serenity.”

Persuasion. Another characteristic of Leaders is a primary reliance on persuasion rather than positional authority in making decisions within an organization. A Leader seeks to convince others rather than coerce compliance. This particular element offers one of the clearest distinctions between the traditional authoritarian model and that of leadership. A Leader is effective at building consensus within groups.

Conceptualization. Leaders seek to nurture their abilities to “dream great dreams.” The ability to look at a problem (or an organization) from a conceptualizing perspective means that one must think beyond day-to-day realities. For many managers this is a characteristic that requires discipline and practice. Leaders are called to seek a delicate balance between conceptual thinking and a day-to-day focused approach.

Foresight. Foresight is a characteristic that enables a Leader to understand the lessons from the past, the realities of the present, and the likely consequence of a decision for the future. It is also deeply rooted within the intuitive mind. Foresight remains a largely unexplored area in leadership studies, but one most deserving of careful attention.

Commitment to the growth of people. Leaders believe that people have an intrinsic value beyond their tangible contributions as workers. As a result, a Leader is deeply committed to the growth of each and every individual within the institution. A Leader recognizes the tremendous responsibility to do everything possible to nurture the growth of employees.


The Hats an agile leader wears

Coach—ask thought-provoking questions to help Team Members achieve their goals

Consultant—gather information, then offer recommendations

Facilitator—structure and support interactions between Team Members

Mentor—share your 

Teacher—impart your knowledge to others 


Braintrust Group

Braintrust Group is a worldwide leader in Agile transformations. Through practical, hands-on training and enterprise and team coaching, we help our clients learn, plan, and implement Agile processes, such as Scrum and Kanban. Our goal is to teach our clients how to increase the predictability of delivery, decrease time-to-market, and improve overall client satisfaction.

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