The Agile Leader explores what it means to be a leader in the digital age. We live in a time of unprecedented technological advancement and connectivity, but also constant instability and rapid change.

Hayward suggest that, unless we develop the agility to read and react to change in a way that allows us to evolve at least as quickly as our environment, then we are likely to be caught out and left behind.

The Agile Leader is easy to read and well laid out, and presents thought-provoking discussion on the context of modern leadership. The theory is supplemented by case studies, which give useful insight into how agile leadership principles have been applied in a real-world context. The ideas are often explained using athletic agility as a metaphor for agility in leadership and organisations. This makes for an entertaining read compared to many texts on leadership theory.

The book presents itself as being of value to leaders all levels. However, the focus is primarily on creating agile organisational culture. For this reason, it will be of particular interest to those CEOs and senior leaders with the ability to really drive the strategic direction of their organisations. There is something for everyone though: middle or junior leaders will find much of the value, in terms of adopting agile thinking and developing the ability to respond quickly and positively to change, while project managers who recognise the need to adapt and transform in response to change and customer expectations will find useful tools to help implement agile approaches to meet this challenge.

Students of leadership theory and leadership development practitioners will certainly appreciate the extensive and clearly presented references and the opportunities for further reading that they represent.

There are helpful summaries and checklists to conclude each chapter, which means the book will prove a useful regular reference resource. Using The Agile Leader in this way may help embed the kind of attitudinal and cultural change that is required to achieve long-term, sustainable success in an environment where today’s goals may be obsolete tomorrow.

To borrow the author’s sporting analogy, this book will not transform s Jonathan Henderson into a a David Silva, but perhaps it an help us to create the space we need put a foot on the ball., look up and see opportunities in a crowded penalty area. Making a shift towards a more agile mindset and leadership approach can give us a little more time on the ball than our competitors – and allow us to execute that game-changing pass.

Reviewed by Stephen McKinnell, a project manager in the defence industry.  

© Project magazine 2019

Project is the official magazine of The Association for Project Management.

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