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University System of Maryland

Agile Leadership Principles and Practices

University System of Maryland and University of Maryland, College Park via edX


Agile can often challenge project managers in the realm of leadership. Old styles of command-control are now a thing of the past, except for the most conservative organizations. While good leaders employ a variety of leadership skills and leadership styles to motivate team members, even this is not enough. Simply setting a common goal and maintaining positive attitudes while raising your emotional intelligence will make you a better leader; but will it truly unlock your team's potential?

Instead of leadership traits, Agile leadership emphasizes facilitation and communication skills. This is teachable and much more powerful. This unique and effective leadership style challenges traditional beliefs in what leadership means.

Great leaders understand that the leader can no longer stand in the way of their team. Modern society, mindsets, and global competition demand new leadership roles, and leadership qualities all together that empower and motivate the team to new levels of productivity. Business leaders that miss this critical shift in leadership styles concede a powerful competitive advantage to the Agile leader.

In this course, you will learn how this new style of leadership redefines and redistributes team roles by:

  • Motivating through empowerment to gain better decisions

  • Facilitating the creativity and inclusivity of a high-functioning team

  • Identifying and managing decision making biases

  • Negotiating conflicts across individuals, teams, and organizations

  • Ensuring success through delegation and powerful constraint-based metrics.

  • You’ll learn to turn one internally motivated and critically thinking mind into many; and driving speed and innovation through leveraging all talents on the team.

While this course will not make you an agile certified practitioner (PMI-ACP), or certified scrum master (CSM), it offers a more fundamental agile certification based on agile principles and how agile leadership is applied in industry today. You'll finish this course more than ready to continue your agile journey, which we hope takes you to the next course in the series on Agile Process, Project, and Program Controls.

Upon successful completion of this course, learners can earn 10 Professional Development Unit (PDU) credits, which are recognized by the Project Management Institute (PMI). PDU credits are essential to those looking to maintain certification as a Project Management Professional (PMP).


  • Week 1: The first week of this course jumps right into our traditional notions of leadership, defining the concept, the characteristics of a leader, the science of leadership, and the styles that exist today across master and servant models (Primal Leadership, Team Leadership, Situational Leadership, and Transformational Leadership).

  • Week 2: The second week exposes the reasoning behind servant leadership as the optimal approach and how old philosophies and “modern psychology” reinforce the need for leaders to empower teams. Gamification and the power of play are emphasized to ensure optimal contribution and performance across roles on the scaled Agile teams. Here you'll learn the scrum master's secrets and agile techniques for running highly productive teams.

  • Week 3: The third week explores human decision making, its power and its faults in the form of biases, and how we can train ourselves through emotional-social intelligence and mindfulness to go faster by slowing down. Negotiation styles and techniques are also covered requiring self-reflection on how one handles conflict and manages competing, accommodating, avoiding, compromising, and collaborating challenges. These techniques are critical for product owners, scrum masters, and those leading in any capacity.

  • Week 4: The final week focuses on putting these lessons into practice with real-world approaches and tools for managing and facilitating decisions, interactions, and environments for optimal team performance.

Taught by

John Johnson


4.5 rating, based on 477 Class Central reviews

4.8 rating at edX based on 31 ratings

Start your review of Agile Leadership Principles and Practices

  • A good well-structured overview of agile leadership and how it relates to traditional leadership and powerplay. The course provides insight into the theoretical leadership frameworks. The course is rather theoretical. The lectures have a standard…
  • This was a very interesting course. I appreciated the external reading suggestions and real world examples. The course provided scope for self evaluation and insight on how to leverage skills in negotiations and leadership. I can see this being useful at work.
  • Anonymous
    Low level material - basically a summary of some popular books made by a guy who put some slides together. By the way he seems to not know basic grammar and spelling (too many times had I to see that he could not still figure out the difference bet…
  • Anonymous
    The Agile Leadership Principles and Practises course was very insightful and helped me develop a completely different view on Leadership and Management. The course was well rounded , starting from the old fashioned leadership and progressed towards to the Agile leadership; helping me to clearly understand the benefits of Agile. I am looking forward to implement the principles and practises in my professional life.
  • Anonymous
    I really liked this course, well crafter to understand the Agile Leadership Principles and Practices. It has lot of questions and knowledge checks which makes you connected to the course. A great leader - inspire, align and direct including Motivate, organize, and Empower. The story & references are quite easy to understand and makes this course more clear. Thanks for making it so useful. I have been applying many Negotiating techniques and now I can refer it with clear and in particular type of phase - Avoiding, Competing, Compromising, Accommodating, Collaborating.
  • Anonymous
    Very well taught, gives a very interesting insight into the agile leadership process and proposes some useful tools to deal with negotiation and leadership issues. Very well integrated with the other courses in the series, makes it possible to review and integrate the knowledge gradually. As a professional with a more traditional PM background I found it very useful and I think that it has made me a better project management professional.
  • Anonymous
    I was quite fascinated with the manner of providing information, style of presentations and lecturer. Straight and forward. Clear and easy to understand. You can work on your own path to follow the course and revise what you whant. The additional sources of information were very useful and the intermidiary check-ups were of great help to understand wheather you are on a good way of learning. I DO recommend this course!
  • Anonymous
    I found this course very interesting, and I think it's going to be useful at work. It helps in reevaluating the decision-making processes we normally apply in everyday life. I particularly appreciated the external reading suggestions and examples from the real world.
  • Anonymous
    Agile leadership can be considered a critical skill in leading teams; specifically, when it comes to leading complex businesses such as manufacturing in the aluminum industry. Too often, most technological progress has been done to improve processe…
  • Anonymous
    mainly a good course. my proposal will be to make the videos more "situational", at least some of them would be great to have more acting examples... i think we will be more attached as if we only listen someone talking
  • Anonymous
    Less strong than the other courses in this group, but a welcome introduction into negotiations as a "dotted line" leader across organizations. Borrows heavily from previous courses, to show how it all integrates.
  • Anonymous
    I learned a lot about leadership. There are different strategies that a leader can utilize. Servant leadership is of particular interest. Also human interactions are better over processes and tools.
  • Anonymous
    The course outline is well organized. The multimedia nature allows for better conceptualization, in addition the quizzes helps one to assess their progress and are memorable. Great job
  • Anonymous
    Very nice course with good classes and easy learning method. I've learned a lot and recommend it!
    Classes aboit agile leadership, tecnniques to apply on work, and ways to apply it.
  • Anonymous
    The course was well-organized and gave insight about agile leadership, bias and contains good examples to understand the techniques. I recommend it to everybody.
  • Anonymous
    It is very good way to learn so many new techniques to manage people in different type of project. I found it so helpful for me to learn and its so simple to learn.
  • Anonymous
    Very good course for leaders and those who want to become one. I have learned a lot and will recomand this coures to my friends.
  • Anonymous
    It is a good start (gives you good basics) when you start to deal with agile leadership. It was easy to understand via examples.
  • Profile image for Robin Ste
    Robin Ste
    There were some topics in this course that I really liked, but also some parts that I disliked. The first 2 weeks are interesting from a theoretical point of view. The 4th week adds some tools/suggestions on how to practically incorporate what you h…
  • Anonymous
    It gives you good bases when you start to deal with agile leadership. The course is good for beginners.

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