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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


Version 2 of this course series delivers beyond the original agile certification. It includes updated content, better audit and verified learner experiences, and bonus videos on key topics.

The follow-on to this course series on “Advanced Scrum” is expected by the end of Summer 2020.

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

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4.5 rating, based on 405 reviews

Start your review of Agile Leadership Principles and Practices

  • Ronny De Winter completed this course, spending 3 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.

    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 format,...
  • 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.
  • Nagabhushana K
    Agile leadership, principles and practices is a valuable course to undergo for all those who wants to excel in efficient leadership and management. The course teaches you on different leadership principles and practices, traditional to agile leadership. Agile is a modern leadership which believes in servant role with continues improvement & timely changes required. It highlights scrum, empowering mind & team.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    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 processes....
  • Profile image for Robin Ste
    Robin Ste

    Robin Ste completed this course, spending 2 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

    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 have...
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    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 between...
  • Snježana Sirovec
    Truly an outstanding course and very useful for all managers.

    Content is not simple and requires attention and focus which is essential in all processes.

    Now I can look with understanding at the behaviors of certain people in certain situations.

    I believe that it will help me in making decisions in the team and that the team will function more efficiently.

    However, this is by no means the end of this topic, we need to go through the content of the course again and determine some points, but also continue, ie expand our knowledge that is based on the extraordinary topic of Agile leadership.
  • Seema Navarathanmal
    The course was very interesting and helped me understand how agile works and what I need to do to lead a team and develop myself to be an effective agile leader. I liked how a contrast was provided to traditional leadership and it was made clear how agile is different to lean management but also what they have in common. I thought the courses was well paced, although there were a few tricky terminology interpretation tasks I had to sort out to succeed. They were trickier than I thought but they helped me better understand Agile.

    Thank you and this was really helpful.
  • Profile image for Salah Mahmoud
    Salah Mahmoud
    It is a very good course covering important Concepts sufficient for leadership such as traditional leadership and modern leadership. It also opens discussions in important concepts how to empower yourself and the team, help to focus. generally it is very good if you see that you need to understand some details about leadership foundations. There are some practical examples and tools (yet not direct tools like previous course for example) however you will be able to understand well the concept

    My only take for this course is that some topics in the class videos are not flowing smoothly. I am not able to establish a smooth mind map for some of the videos (they are not many but I faced this issue)
  • Anonymous
    This is the first agile course I've taken and frankly it was worth the investment. The course changed my orientation about leadership completely. Haven worked in organizations that are department and role centric, learning about agile teams was a complete shocker. The instructor was succinct and at the same time very informative. The examples reassured me that these aren't just fancy terms but are actually principles that are being applied daily in the real world. I would most certainly recommend this course to anyone who is interested in improving his or her leadership skills. Thank you edX, thank you University of Maryland
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    Material is relevant and is delivered in a concise manner but all the concepts and material of the course are readily available either online or in existing textbooks, there was little new or original thought in the course. I don't understand why it...
  • Anonymous
    Good overview of the topics, but due to the short course time, the topics are only covered superficially. The videos are good, but the handouts are very similar to the videos, consisting rather of bulleted lists than text. There is a lack of additional material for more in-depth study. (Good) References are given, but these are very often entire books, which cannot be used as a deepening in the short term. I would highly appreciate to have a little more text in the handouts.
  • Anonymous
    The course was very informative. Everyday leadership styles that I took for granted came across very clearly as to what I must do and try avoiding when managing my team and inter / external stakeholders. Applying different leadership styles is something that I will apply as my current role expects me to negotiate with multiple parties. really enjoyed the course was not tedious at all and the flow was seamless one topic into another.
  • Profile image for Юлия Носова
    Юлия Носова

    Юлия Носова completed this course, spending 10 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

    This course was usefull for me. It helped me to form my thoughts which I had earlier, but now I see them clear.
    And I'm apprichiate that had found these materials.
    What changes? Firstly, I tried meditation. It's really very powerful technique. I use meditation every day for 20 minutes.
    Also I keep on to read about negotiation techniques and empowering myself and others.
    I hope these materiales would be accessable, it would be usefull to reread them if needed.

    P.S: my native language is not English, I had some problems with that, but they were overcame.
  • Anonymous
    Would like to see an updated version of this course after the changes the world went through due to the pandemic. Co-location now has become somewhat scarce and would be nice to see how to deal and adapt. Other than that, this course was extremely useful and interesting and maybe even the most interesting yet in this program and will definitely be using and referring to a lot of the mentioned techniques.
  • Profile image for Life Is Good
    Life Is Good
    It was an amazing course the reason to take this course is because right now I manage many projects so that I have so many teams. That's the reason to take this course, and now I feel very confident about myself. Plus. I have a great experience taking this and this class at 12 amazing for three here and thank you for everything. It was a great experience. Thank you, and we are keeping going
  • Anonymous
    Found the course to be well structured and give a basic overview & introduction into different concepts related to agile leadership.

    Agile leadership, principles and practices is a valuable course to undergo for all those who wants to excel in efficient leadership and management. The course teaches you on different leadership principles and practices, traditional to agile leadership

  • Profile image for Musa Ngog
    Musa Ngog

    Musa Ngog completed this course.

    Good course for project management for Agile Leadership. The instructor is well knowledgeable in Agile Project Management. Theories presented are relevant to the subject. Video presentation is great and all the quizzes questions are straight forward with the subject discussed.

    Agile Leadership course is suitable for me as junior project management team in our organization. Negotiation skill subject is very useful and leadership skill shared based on case studies are relevant.
  • P.Singh
    The pace was easy to follow and the presentation material and content clearly delivered. I wished the audit quizzes were longer and there was less marketing of other courses. Overall I learnt some new concepts in this course and recommend it to Senior Leaders who need to polish up the latest in management/leadership thinking.
  • Anonymous
    Good course to get started with agile leadership. It offers some tools on leadership that you can apply on your daily work. Its very focused on people and influence. I consider Agile leadership is a skill you must have if you are leading projects or teams, so as a basic or beggining basis, i can recomend this curse.

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