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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 440 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.
  • 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...
  • 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....
  • Omar M.Selim
    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,...
  • Anonymous
    This online course have been informative and practical. Help me learned and be aware of the Agile Principles and how it differs from the typical management system that most of us is familiar with. The modules and summary point every chapter was a great help in reiterating important items all throughout the course.

    The book references and online articles also has provided valuable points and guides. And was great in cross checking and verifying lessons on the course.

    The opportunity to provide feedback every session, is a practical embodiment of the Plan-Do-Check-Act, in which continuous improvement in the system would benefit both the program and its future students.

  • 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
    This is the fourth course I have taken on Agile - 1 left to go. Therefore as I have chosen to complete the series it is evident I have found them all including this course useful. I have been able to improve on existing skills and learn new ones. Although just one minor point with one of the final questions (which I still got correct so no major issue) however there seems to be an error with the names - one part the man is John then he is called Jorge (just an FYI as it may cause confusion to some). Other than that tiny point the lectures were great and so was the learning material. Thanks for another great course!
  • 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...
    This course was my introduction to the Agile suite. So my review may have an inherent bias. It was an interesting course offering insights to newer productive forms of leadership which are remarkably different from the traditional and more suited for the millennial and Gen Z generations.

    Noticed a few mistakes where 'Meditation' was spelt as 'Mediation' and a case story in the final quiz where the storyteller referred to a character as John while he was introduced to us as Jorge.

  • Anonymous
    I found that this course was very well structured. The summaries as well as the different tests helped me to easily retain the course content. Moreover, the examples using real cases bring an additional dimension to the course content and make the course even more attractive.

    Showing us the evolution between the different kinds of leadership is very interesting and makes us aware of it. This course gives us several practical keys to implement Agile Leadership.
  • 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.
  • Anonymous
    Very interesting course. Completely revolutionized my mindset about leadership as i work in a very traditional leadership style environment. Also in terms of project planning i love the fact that Agile is focused on building up from the bottom up. The learning materials were also very detailed and the references were also provided to aid personal research on the subject. I hope to complete the other Agile programs.
  • Anonymous
    Excellent course with great mix of videos, content, and quizzes. I started the course when it was first offered and went back to receive the certificate years later, I liked that the material changed and improved in each iteration. The course seems to be an example of Agile PM in it's implementation. I also like that I can revisit the material since I'm studying for a PMI exam.
  • This was my first course on EdX and I must say I actually enjoyed it. However, in some cases while watching the videos, you find some slides clustered with too much information to grasp so one ends up pausing, rewinding and playing all over in order not to lose track of the flow of study.
    Generally speaking, it was a great experience and I sure will take other courses on EdX.
  • This is a very good introduction to Agile Leadership. Not only do we have a good overview of leadership and how modern leadership has influenced the practice in the agile context, we are also provided with other aspects of leadership such as nudging and negotiating. The one thing to improve the program would be to provide also the review notes at the end of each video in pdf format.
  • Anonymous
    It was a wonderful course, quite interesting. It gave lots of insights into different types of leadership, it’s principles, human behaviour and how to handle a “Project team”. I am greatly benefited out of this course and I will suggest my friends to take up this course. I will use the knowledge gained in this course in my professional work.
    Extremely useful for practicing managers. Throws light on different concepts. Provides an opportunity to learn new ideas in managing conflicts and team management. It is a summary of a couple of management thesis. An useful guide in dealing with challenges faced by practicing managers in especially project management.
  • Anonymous
    I enjoyed the course, there is plenty of interesting information. It is however quite theoretical, I would have preferred if there would have been a more practical perspective on top of the theory as well. I was sometimes left with the question, okay, interesting, but how am I going to apply this in real life?

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