Certified Agile Leadership (CAL1)

The Certified Agile Leadership course gives managers and coaches skills needed to foster success.

This is a new course as part of the Scrum Alliance's Certified Agile Leadership (CAL) programme, delivered by Toronto-based Scrum Alliance Certified Enterprise Coach Michael Sahota of Agilitrix.

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Scrum Alliance Certified Agile Leadership Credential 1Overcome Top Challenges with Agile

The Scrum Alliance created the Certified Agile Leadership programme in response to a need for help with overcoming the top organisational challenges with Agile:

  1. Organisational Culture at odds with Agile
  2. Resistance to Change
  3. Management Support Lacking (What do we do with our managers?)
  4. Agile Mindset Challenged

Your success as a leader in an Agile organisation requires looking beyond Agile itself. It requires a deep understanding of your organisation and your own leadership path. To equip you for this journey, you will gain a strong foundation in understanding organisational culture. From there, you will learn key organisation and leadership models that will allow you to understand how your organisational culture really works.

Now you are ready to start the journey! You will learn about organisational growth – how you may foster lasting change in your organisation. Key is understanding how it invites change in a complex system. You will also learn about leadership – how you may show up more effectively, and how to help others.

Though each Certified Agile Leadership course varies depending on the instructor, all Certified Agile Leadership courses intend to create awareness of, and begin the journey toward, Agile Leadership.

Graduates will receive the Certified Agile Leadership (CAL 1) designation. See Scrum Alliance Website for further details.


Certified Agile Leadership 1 Michael Sahota


“When we examine culture and leadership closely, we see that they are two sides of the same coin; neither can really be understood by itself.” – Edgar Schein

Michael Sahota talks about CAL and answers questions

Ahead of his trip to Auckland Michael Sahota ran an interactive webinar talking about the 'Certified Agile Leadership' course and answering questions that people had about agile leadership and about the course. You can watch a recording of that webinar here.

High Praise for this Training

Chris Nikitas, an Agile Coach in the Financial sector, attended Michael's Certified Agile Leadership course in London on 31 January and 1 February 2017 and you can hear about his experience in this video.

Also watch the excellent feedback and testimonials from Michael's recent March 2017 Certified Agile Leadership course in Chicago.

Also read Shailesh Thakkar's excellent LinkedIn post providing feedback and insights on his experience on Michael's Certified Agile Leadership course.

Executives and Managers

  • Invigorating, Rejuvenating, Thought-provoking. I gained valuable insights into self, value of consciousness and better understanding of how to start to consider transformation to organizational agility.” – Greg Fields, Managing Director
  • Mind-opening, Intense, Deep. I gained key learning around working with culture, leadership models and listening. I enjoyed the diversity of exercises, energy of the space and movement.” – Michael Sapp, Program Manager
  • Enlightening, Inspiring, Energizing. I learned about self-leadership, 4 A’s Leadership model, Teal organizations and a decision-making framework. I liked the balance of telling vs asking and the different levels of collaboration.” – Yashar Rassoulli, CTO & co-founder.
  • Enlightening. Uplifting. Transformational. Culture is king and is the most important metric/KPI for understanding the health of an organization and improving it.” -Frank Leong, General Manager, Aimia
  • Inspirational, Holistic, Honest. I learned that ‘Agile’ is not the goal. Any good that I might aspire to do in others must be fully internalized and true in me first. I like the group discussion and decision-making. Michael showed a great level of respect for the whole person.” – Rich Elledge, Work Stream Lead, IT PMO
  • Enlightening. Awesome. I learned about the importance and value of starting with myself. And the importance of consciousness about structures. I like the learning journal, poll everywhere, and mix of slides and flipcharts.” – Mark Staelgraeve, Sr. Project Manager
  • Enlightening, Powerful, Life Changing. I see I am not alone and it’s OK to ask for help. I liked that the class was straight forward, amusing, and thought-provoking.” – Charlotte Tan, Agile Program Manager

Agile Coaches, Change Agents, and Scrum Masters

  • Inspiring, Beautiful, Empowering. I now see the importance of going beyond Agile and clarifying leadership’s desire for transformation. I now have patterns for experimenting with. The energy and charisma engaged me. I also like the fluidity and creativeness.” – Jem D’Jelal, Organizational Coach
  • Enlightening, Engaging, Empowering. I discovered valuable ways of approaching leadership, and transformation through patterns. This subject holistically has opened up my mind to the possibilities of what I can achieve with organizations.” – Auzma Ahmed, Scrum Master
  • Honest, Engaging, Thought-Provoking. I learned about the importance of listening – purely listening, standing in the truth and inviting others. I liked the varied methods, group discussions and visual materials.” – Laura Prieto Umerez, Operational Excellence Sr. Business Adviso
  • Every Agilist should be aware of these concepts. I learned patterns for understanding organizations. And specific tools/ways to engage leaders to identify what they really want – to increase awareness to create an environment where people can thrive.” – Maria Matarelli, Coach & CST
  • Awareness, Growth, Impact. I learned about focus on myself – listening and 4 A’s leadership model. I now have techniques to work with leadership. I liked the safe environment and the emergent, rich discussion.” – Josh D’Jelal, Scrum Master
  • Impactful, Engaging, Relevant. I gained valuable insights around frameworks & tools for dialogue and my attachment to Agile as an end. I now know how better to see and bring awareness of reality. I liked the informal tone, hands-on activities and mix of small/large group work.” – Anthony Mersino, (Agile+) Coach

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The course has two main audiences who need to enable success by fostering agility within their organisations:

  • Organisational Leaders - Business and IT executives, directors, programme and project managers.
  • Organisational Coaches - Agile coaches, Scrum Masters, HR professionals and internal change leaders

The principles and practices of organisational culture and leadership are the same regardless of your role.


Pre-requisites: Agile fundamentals. Industry experience or Certified ScrumMaster or Certified Scrum Product Owner is sufficient. This course explores organisation & leadership needed to create an Agile organisation. Agile is not required to learn, it is a requirement for certification. If you are not sure, please contact us for clarification.

Note: This course is designed for anyone seeking to foster a more agile (flexible, nimble) organisation. Even though the historical context of Agile is software innovation, this training is applicable across all industries.

Course Pre-learning: Participants are expected to complete 2-3 hours of videos and readings in advance of the training. Then there is more time to focus on discussion and exploration. The reading guide will be shared with participants after registration.

PDUs: This training provides 14 PDUs in support of certifications offered by the Project Management Institute, including the PMI­ACP as well as the PMP certification.

Training Environment

We create a highly interactive dynamic training environment. Each of you are unique – and so is each training. Although the essentials will be covered in every class, you will be involved in shaping the depth and focus of our time together. Each learning module is treated as a User Story (see photos below and at the bottom of the page) and we will co-create a unique learning journey that supports everyone’s needs.

Only the most valuable topics will be covered.

The training will draw from the learning areas identified in the CAL overview diagram.

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Organisational Culture

“If you do not manage culture, it manages you, and you may not even be aware of the extent to which this is happening.” – Edgar Schein

  • Why Culture? Clarify why culture is critical for Organisational Success.
  • Laloux Culture Model: Discuss the Laloux culture model that will help us clarify current state and how to understand other organisations/models.
  • Agile Culture: Explore how Agile can be seen as a Culture System.
  • Agile Adoption & Transformation: – Highlight differences between Agile Adoption and Transformation.
  • Dimensions of Culture: Look at key aspects of culture from “Reinventing Organisations”. Where are we and where might we go?
  • Culture Case Studies: Organisational Design: Explore how leading companies use innovative options to drive cultural operating systems.

Organisational Growth

  • Working With Culture: Given a Culture Gap. What moves can we make? Work with Culture or Transformation.
  • Complex Systems Thinking: Effective change is possible when we use a Complex Systems model. Cynefin. Attractors. Emergent Change.
  • Healthy “Agile” Initiatives: How to get to a healthy initiative. How to focus on the real goals of Agile and clarify WHY.
  • Fostering Organisational Collaboration: Understanding collaboration and trust beyond the team. Organisational drivers. Patterns for change.
  • Metrics: How do we measure success? What metrics help and which harm us?
  • Transformation Case Study: Walkthrough of how a transformation unfolded with a 100 person internal IT group.

Leadership Organisational Models

  • Management Paradigms: Contrast of Traditional “Modern” Management practices with Knowledge worker paradigm. Theory X, Theory Y.
  • The Virtuous Cycle: Key drivers of success emergent across different high-performance organisational systems.
  • Engagement (Gallup): Gallup has 12 proven questions linked to employee engagement. How can we move the needle?
  • Advice Process: More effective decision-making using Advice Process. Build leaders. Practice with advice cards.

Leadership Development

  • Listening: Subtle and deep listening practice as the basis for all human interaction.
  • 4 A’s Leadership Model: Awareness, Acceptance, Aspiration & Ask for Help.
  • Leading Through Culture: How to lead through culture so that innovation and engagement can emerge.
  • Transformational Leadership: See how we may “be the change we want to see” in our organisations.
  • Leadership in Hierarchy: Hierarchy impedes innovation. Listening and language tips to improve your leadership.

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About Michael Sahota

Michael Sahota, Certified Enterprise Coach

I believe people deliver astounding results when they have Passion and Purpose. Joy and Meaning. Creativity, Safety, Trust and Belonging. I believe we can foster work environments where people can grow and evolve to unleash their best every day.

I help people cultivate their organisational culture. To invite a more conscious way of being and relating. To evolve organisational structures and practices that foster new ways of working.

I am a guide: I help leaders navigate the world of organisational reinvention. I support learning and growth through: training, coaching, consulting, and facilitation. I increase awareness of the connection between actions and outcomes. I invite change. I walk the talk.

Since 2001 I have been fostering an Agile way of working. Since 2010, I have been helping organisations evolve their organisational culture to create places where Agile may flourish. As a Certified Enterprise Coach (CEC), I help leaders bridge the world between Agile and organisational reality.

Watch Michael Sahota's webinar Top ten secrets of Agile transformation, delivered to over 800 registered attendees to get insight into this thinking on organisational culture and leadership for successful organisational agility.


Q: What is the difference between SAFe and CAL?

A: On the surface, the goals of SAFe and CAL are similar: An Agile Organisation.

SAFe has an excellent focus on Tactical elements of Agile such as the process, roles, multi-team releases. It is a wonderful way to adopt Agile practices in a large organisation. One might say the focus is on Doing Agile. The focus here is on what may we do to improve things with as little organisational change as possible.

The focus of CAL is Cultural with an outlook towards Being Agile. How may we foster and Agile mindset to create a nimble flexible organisation powered by engaged, innovative people? For this we look at topics such as leadership, org structure, culture, and organisational growth. The focus here is long-term sustainable growth from a holistic integrated perspective.

More Photos from Previous Courses

The below photos are from previous Certified Agile Leadership courses that Michael Sahota has delivered...

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