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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 453 Class Central 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
    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

    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....
  • Anonymous
    I was very impressed by this class. It was simple to follow, with the information organized very clearly and very consistently. By week 2, I knew the "rhythm" of video, written notes, links and resources, and the simple knowledge check, and this was all very helpful. I thought the presenter was just a hired actor until he gave personal experiences in about week 3. This "real life" example of the content was helpful and made me like the course even more. For giving such a formal presentation of material, I thought the presenter was warm and personable.
  • 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.
  • Douglas Enejoh
    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.
  • Kristian Orozco
    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
    Remarkably interesting course. Not only validates your current style of leadership, but also provides information on what point or area you need to rework and how to improve it.

    I really enjoyed the videos, and the follow-up summary points. Congratulation to the facilitators and to University of Maryland for the content of this course!
  • 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?
  • Anonymous
    This was my first real introduction to Agile and i found it really interesting to want to study more and get more knowledge for further application in my career and day to day activities. It was good to see a Prep before the video and summary. I really enjoyed the videos and the summary points were super helpful.
  • Anonymous
    Awesome! The course has exposed me to skills, techniques and principles of Agile Leadership. I have learnt the various leadership styles and when to apply the appropriately. I have also learnt the various conflict resolution techniques and how to keep my team working harmoniously. I really enjoyed the course.
  • Anonymous
    Very inspirational course. I learned lots of techniques how to become a better agile leader and also theories behind those techniques. Course is very nicely structured that kept me both focused and entertained. The teacher is charismatic and it was really enjoyable to listen and watch videos. Highly recommended.
  • Anonymous
    The course was interesting with very good division into topics.
    Yet, it has some areas it could certainly improve upon: Proof-reading slides and summaries could benefit the materials and integrating more examples (especially on e.g. nudging) would help along anyone who is rather new to the topic as well.
  • 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 course introduced me to many terms and concepts that I was not entirely familiar with. As a leader not specifically within the PM field but exposed to this area, I found the content beneficial and highly transferrable to my professional environment.
  • Kehinde Familoni
    Wow this course is amazing, very pratical and i love how it deals with the most critical element of project management which is the individual and his role and function in the team.
    Agile leadership is awesome.

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