How to be an agile leader?

A short self-check to find out what you should be focusing on and to create an efficient development plan for yourself to be an agile leader.

In his book The Agile Leader, Simon Hayward explains the agile leader possesses four main characteristics.

These attributes:

  • Agility in learning
  • Empathy 
  • Deliberate grit 
  • Digital proficiency 

Agile leader’s main characteristics

First of all, since agility is about learning and adapting to changing circumstances, the crucial starting point for leaders is to develop high-level agile learning. For this, it is essential to always be open. In other words, to want to learn from every experience. Moreover, being able to assign them to our own business priorities.

Secondly, another important aspect is that the agile leader has to be able to create a connected culture. In which people trust and are confident enough to act boldly and experiment without fearing failure.

After those, the next characteristic is to have determination and make decisions with confidence.

Finally, the last agile leader’s attribute is to be present in the digital world. This means following the digital world. From the most complicated transformations of the IT platforms to the influence of social media on customers’ shopping experience. 


To clarify, the checklist below will help you. You can easily find out what you should be focusing on. It will also help you to create an efficient development plan for yourself if you would like to be an agile leader.

Attribute Description Merit of self-assessment.
1 – does not apply.
2 – applies a little.
3 – applies sometimes.
4 – typically applies to me.
5 – always applies to me.  
Agility in learning I’m curious, I ask questions first
instead of drawing conclusions right away. 
I always learn from experiences and
change my behavior accordingly. 
I ask for feedback to be able to
Empathy I react to difficult situations
thoughtfully so I stay calm and
I communicate consistently so people feel that I am reasonable and fair. 
Every stakeholder trusts me as a
Deliberate resolve I am deliberate and stop to think if I have to make an
important decision. 
I consult, I ask for consultants’ and experts’ opinions before I reach my conclusions. 
I am resolute and I act quickly when a decision has been made. 
Digital knowledge I keep track of how technology
changes my customers’ shopping experience. 
I am interested in technology and I always try new technologies. 
I’m active online to understand new 
applications and experiences.

Based on these attributes to sum up, how agile are you? Are you an agile leader? Where did you score the highest and lowest?

In conclusion, do you believe these are the four main characteristics of agile leadership? Or do you think agile leaders have other crucial characteristics too?

For more on using this method to improve your skills, see this popular book. Besides, read our previous article.

By Zsuzsa Danka

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