9 Hallmarks of Effective Agile Leaders

Published: Oct 29, 2021
Modified: Apr 09, 2024


From American Management Association

Today’s business landscape requires agile leadership. With unexpected obstacles and certain change at every corner, leaders need to be able to adapt and adjust, quickly and with ease, while continuing to motivate and empower their people all the same. In our highly complex, rapidly evolving, and often turbulent times, agile leaders stand out at every level as a valuable asset to the entire organization, as well as essential to the ongoing success of their team.

What are the hallmarks of an effective agile leader? American Management Association (AMA) has identified nine characteristics that agile leaders have in common:

  1. Focused. First and foremost, agile leaders are focused. They concentrate on the big picture and projects that support it. While nimble, agile leaders keep a firm and steady eye on what truly matters to their team, their company, and their industry.
  2. Strategic. Agile leaders avoid getting caught up in the operational details of projects. Their priority is strategy. They focus their attention and invest their energy in making sure that each project’s strategic plan is clear, strong, and on target for reaching its goals.
  3. Bold. Agile leaders think and act boldly. They have the courage of their convictions. And they aren’t afraid to speak out or take a risk for their vision and beliefs in what’s best for their projects, their people, and the organization at large.
  4. Inspirational. Agile leaders are inspirational. They continually encourage team members to work together under pressure to find solutions and exceed expectations. They excel at persuading others to share their vision and support their strategic plan for making it a reality. And they defend transformation.
  5. Consistent. Agile leaders lead with consistency. They take care to always set an example of being open and adaptable to change without losing sight of the big picture. And they make a conscious effort to reinforce and coach agile behaviors in others.
  6. Resilient. Agile leaders demonstrate resilience. They rebound from setbacks and deftly navigate resistance to change. They expect pushback—not just from people on their teams, but from key stakeholders in the organization. Along with being resilient, they know how to build commitment.
  7. Dynamic. Agile leaders are dynamic. Radiating energy and enthusiasm, they embrace change, motivate productive activity, and keep projects moving forward. They shine at maintaining the momentum.
  8. Flexible. Agile leaders demonstrate flexibility. They welcome and listen to feedback. They consider alternate perspectives and pathways. And they are willing and ready to pivot if necessary.
  9. Networked. Agile leaders are outstanding networkers. They cultivate connections and stay in touch with team members, stakeholders, and key influencers. They watch what’s going on, keep up with trends, and are always in the know about people and their potential.

Like all leaders, agile leaders are not born but made. With dedication, determination, and training, anyone called to lead—regardless of their official title—can develop the nine qualities that set agile leaders apart. And by investing in becoming a more agile leader, you’ll increase your value to any organization and advance your own career.

The world of business is filled with ambiguities and unanticipated turns. A strong and reassuring force, effective agile leaders lead through change with confidence—and inspire creativity, innovation, collaboration, and commitment in the process.

About AMA

American Management Association (AMA) is globally recognized as a leader in professional development. For nearly 100 years, it has helped millions of people bring about positive change in their performance in order to improve results. AMA’s learn-by-doing instructor-led methods, extensive content, and flexible learning formats are proven effective—and constantly evolve to meet the changing needs of individuals and organizations. To learn more, visit www.amanet.org.