A changing world needs a new kind of leadership

Because the world is rapidly transforming, a new breed of leader is required. Individuals that are capable of responding swiftly to technological innovation, changing social relations, new divisions of labour and new ways of working that are developed. The challenges we face are more complex than ever before. The tried and tested application of best practices is therefore no longer the way forward. We have come to realise that planning everything in advance makes us rigid rather than flexible. When we start with focusing on what is valuable to our customers, good practices are good enough.

The complexity and uncertainty also call for a different form of control. Responsibilities will now be found on lower levels within the organisation. The decision-makers increasingly entrust the responsibility to the experts, and management is replaced by leadership at all levels of the organisation.

Working both lean and agile

One of the answers to these challenges is lean-agile working, an essential part of the way we organise. Organisations learn to make a distinction between what is valuable and what is irrelevant – a development that has been going on for decades in a row. Many organisations have taken the first, sometimes bold, steps in the much-needed lean/agile transition to become more adaptive to their environments. Of the remaining organisations, almost none can be found that is not considering going agile.

Organisations that already have experience working with agile know that it takes more than just sending people to a training course in a certain agile framework. They realise that agile working is easier to understand than it is to do! People are needed who lead the way in a common learning process and who inspire the employees in their organisation to adopt an agile mindset.

The need for agile leaders

As a result, there is a great need from agile oriented organisations for competent Agile Leaders. Not in a new formal role, but rather in an informal one. Someone can be release train engineer, tribe lead, agile coach, scrum master, product owner, or agile pm, but one is only a true Agile Leader when he or she is already able to inspire others to put the agile mindset into practice. Some are more competent in this than others.

Leaders that make an impact by bridging the gap between aspiration and reality are true Agile Leaders. The Agile Leader is more of a phenomenon than a role. As a responsible decision-maker, how do you know that you are working with a good Agile Leader? How does someone demonstrate good leadership?

IPMA Agile Leader Certification

IPMA Agile Leader certification has the focus on individuals working in an agile environment. IPMA, with its focus on the competencies of individuals, has used its experience in the assessment of competencies to meet this need. We believe Agile leadership enriches IPMA’s existing certification of individuals working as consultants, trainers, project managers, programme managers and portfolio managers. IPMA regards IPMA Agile leadership as a different style of leadership within the project management profession.

Agile Leadership is a certification of proven competence based on evidence from their daily practice. It focusses on the individuals and their agile leadership competencies applied in the agile environment. This certification distinguishes itself from all other agile certifications because it is independent from framework, and the IPMA association has no other interest than to professionalise leaders who initiate and implement sustainable change.

This certification aims to be objective and provides proof that an Agile Leader can thrive in every environment.

This new IPMA certification will eventually have three levels, from high to low:

  • Certified Agile Organisational Leader – IPMA Level A®
  • Certified Agile Senior Leader – IPMA Level B®
  • Certified Agile Leader – IPMA Level C®
  • Certified Agile Associate – IPMA Level D®

At the moment, only the Agile Leader certification is available. The other levels will soon follow.

The process

The process goes through a number of specific steps, in each step the candidate provides evidence of his or her competence.

1. Application

The candidate provides, in their CV, an overview of the training he or she has followed, the experience relevant for this certification and which people can be approached for references. Their experience is explained in an agile biography and a self-assessment in which the candidate reflects on the development he or she has undergone in recent years.

2. Evidence

For levels A, B and C, the candidate compiles a portfolio of evidence that is included in the Executive Summary Report (or in the Report). This evidence may consist of self-made blogs, presentations, videos and descriptions of activities which show the impact they have made. The examples therefore provide a picture of the candidate’s competence in Agile Leadership. In support of this, the assessors make inquiries of the Referees.

3. Exam

Because the certification is framework independent, we expect the candidate to demonstrate a broad theoretical knowledge of agile leadership concepts in Perspective, People and Practical elements of agile working. This broad knowledge enables the leader to develop an agile mindset.

4. Interview

During the interview with two assessors, the candidate elaborates on the submitted evidence.

When the candidate has demonstrated the required competence elements he or she can finally be awarded IPMA Agile Leadership Certificate.