Agile leadership

In today’s complex and fast-moving world, we need a form of leadership that fosters innovation, cooperation and rapid decision-making. Agile leadership is what we need. But what does agile leadership involve? And how do you become an agile leader?

What is agile leadership?

Well, let’s start at the beginning. The agile approach was developed so that organisations could adapt quickly to an increasingly unpredictable and changing environment. The method was devised in the IT industry in the early 2000s as a reaction to complex, slow-moving planning methods.

More and more companies now are choosing to go agile – and the way to achieve this is through the leader. The agile leader’s job is to be on hand to provide coaching and inspiration, not to micromanage everything. The aim is to create dedicated, self-oriented teams working towards a common goal – increased productivity and enhanced quality.

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*Agile leadership

The word “agile” (verb: “agility”) means mobility and speed. Within organisations, it involves enabling the business to adapt quickly to changes in its environment.

What’s the difference between agile leadership and traditional leadership?

One way of defining agile leadership is to compare it with the way in which leadership works in more traditional organisations.



Traditional leadership is hierarchical. There’s a manager at the top who assigns work and controls outcomes.

The agile manager is more like a coach, helping to create conditions so that their staff can do a good job. Trust, confidence and cooperation are at the heart of the agile approach.

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Traditional organisations perform surveys in order to achieve set goals.

Agile organisations perform surveys in order to gain a good understanding of how the organisation is doing with a view to developing and improving still further.

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Traditional management involves providing motivation through external rewards.

Agile leadership is based on inner motivation and commitment from staff.

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A traditional approach often involves extensive documentation, long decision chains and detailed requirements specifications.

In agile management, the most important element is the ability to adapt work quickly to changing requirements.

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Why do you need agile leadership?

Happier clients

Agile organisations can adapt more quickly and easily to meet the changing demands of the market, clients and their environment. This increases the quality of deliverables, resulting in happier clients.

Happier staff

Agile leadership makes for happier staff who are allowed to work more autonomously in multidisciplinary teams.

Better cooperation

Cooperation and self-confidence are reinforced by allowing the team to devise their own solutions. It also encourages joint initiatives that aim to develop the company with a focus on the same goals.

Greater efficiency

An agile approach increases production efficiency by allowing quicker adaptation to new methods and encouraging motivation among staff.


How do you implement agile leadership?

The agile approach is based on the team and quick decision-making processes a long way out in the organisation. But as a leader, you have a crucial part to play in defining the right conditions for the success of your team. So, how do you go about doing that?

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Tip! Vision, Sweden’s biggest trade union for managers in the welfare sector, has a quick and easy checklist to use where you can tick off various elements to demonstrate the agility of your leadership. Take a look here » 

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It is, yes. In our modern world, globalisation and digitalisation are making it more and more imperative for businesses in all sectors to adapt quickly to changes in the marketplace. Fostering innovation and cooperation and harnessing the full potential of every staff member are at the very heart of agile leadership. Organisations of all kinds can benefit from agile leadership.

Research has shown that agile leadership leads to happier staff who work together more efficiently. Some flexibility is always needed at an individual level – and agile leadership is founded on the concept of providing the support needed by the team and staff. Agile leadership always needs to be adapted to the different needs and preferences of each individual staff member, and you may find some need more support than others.

Good, continuous communication between teams and their leaders is a cornerstone of agile leadership. As a leader, Flourish allows you to maintain continuous dialogue with your team through existing communication channels such as Slack, Messenger and Teams. Smart features help you to put the right support in place, at the right time. Flourish allows you to collect feedback and get input from your team so that you can come up with ideas and suggestions together that will allow you to move forward. Would you like to know more?