Certified Agile Leadership Training (CAL 1)

Overcome Top Challenges with Agile

The Scrum Alliance created the CAL program in response to a desperate plea for help with overcoming the top organizational challenges with Agile:

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

Praise from Executives and Managers

  • Amazing. Life-changing. Mind Opening. I learned that it’s my journey first. To change the way I show up. That Culture bubbles are good. It was a creative open space that focussed on the needs of the team.” – Michelle Krupa, Director Agile COE
  • 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
  • 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
  • Powerfully awakening and inspirational for my personal journey. I learned to listen to the system, to let it go, and that it’s all about heart, body and soul.” – Danielle Whelan, Agile COE Lead
  • 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, 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
  • Transformational. Rewarding. Its not about the process, it’s about the goals. I learned to listen and focus on myself: how I show up. I loved the safe environment, trust, respect and customization of course content.” – Chris Gullet, AVP Enterprise Platforms

Praise from HR & Trainers

  • Impactful, Freeing. I learned about the importance of self-improvement and modelling behaviour including coaching leaders through invitation. I liked the continuous attention to the energy of the system.” – Sumeyya Khan, Director, Head of Talent Management
  • Engaging, Interesting. I learned that there is no success without leadership. I enjoyed the openness & safety as well as exercises.” – Todd Sentura, Bain Partner, Senior Director of Global Professional Development

Praise from Agile Coaches 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 Advisor
  • Scintillating, Frame-shifting, Upleveling. I learned to be humble about what progress can be made and my role in it. Extraordinary sequencing, pacing and energy.” – Michael de la Maza, Certified Enterprise Coach (CEC)
  • 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
  • Welcoming, Caring, Not pushing. I gained valuable insights on safety, growth and culture. I like that Michael uses polls to see the voice of the system and the drawings to discuss concepts.” – Zuzi Sochova, Agile Coach & Certified Scrum Trainer (CST)
  • 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

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 photo) 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.

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

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

Now you are ready to start the journey! You will learn about organizational growth – how you may foster lasting change in your organization. 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 training
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

Public Courses & Registration

Private CAL1 Training

I offer private CAL1 training for your extended leadership team. Please contact me for pricing and availability.


Pre-requisites: Agile fundamentals. Industry experience or CSM or CSPO is sufficient. This is course explores organization & leadership needed to create an Agile organization. Agile is not required to learn, it is a requirement for certification. If you are not sure, please contact me for clarification.

Note: This course is designed for anyone seeking to foster a more agile (flexible, nimble) organization. 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.

Who Should Attend

There are two main audiences that are addressed by this training: organizational leaders and organizational coaches. The principles and practices of organizational culture and leadership are the same regardless of your role.

Organizational leaders include executives, vice presidents, directors, managers and program leads. Organizational coaches include Agile Coaches, Scrum Masters, HR professionals, and internal change leaders.

Learning Modules for Certified Agile Leadership Training (CAL1)

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 photo) and we will co-create a unique learning journey that supports everyone’s needs. Only the most valuable topics will be covered. 

Organizational 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 Organizational Success.
  • Laloux Culture Model: Discuss the Laloux culture model that will help us clarify current state and how to understand other organizations/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 Organizations”. Where are we and where might we go?
  • Culture Case Studies: Organizational Design: Explore how leading companies use innovative options to drive cultural operating systems.

Organizational 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 Organizational Collaboration: Understanding collaboration and trust beyond the team. Organizational 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 & Organizational 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 organizational 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 organizations.
  • Leadership in Hierarchy: Hierarchy impedes innovation. Listening and language tips to improve your leadership.

What’s Surprising and Delighting Participants?

The 2 days are more than a training. It’s an experience. It’s an invitation into a bigger world. It’s about letting go of our assumptions that are blocking our success.

In an activity called “Postcards from the Future”, here is what participants wish they could tell themselves at the start of the training to set up for even greater success…

About Michael Sahota

I believe people deliver astounding results when we fully engage them with Purpose in Safe, Connected workplaces.

I help leaders cultivate their organizational culture. To show up in ways that invites others to show up. And to evolve structures and practices that foster a resilient adaptable organization.

I am a guide and teacher of organizational gardening. I lead by example. I lovingly invite awareness to increase options and choice. I foster this through: training, coaching, consulting, and facilitation.

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

CAL Educator    Certified Enterprise Coach


Q: Why did the Scrum Alliance create the CAL offering?

A: For years, people have been asking the Scrum Alliance for help looking beyond the team. They said – Scrum is great for teams, but …

  • How can we work with resistance to change?
  • How can we help our managers?
  • How can we shift our culture?
  • How can we help leaders understand what Agile is really about?

CAL is designed to answer these questions and orient people towards leading and inviting a more “Agile” organization.

Q: What is the difference between SAFe and CAL?

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

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 organization. One might say the focus is on Doing Agile. The focus here is on what may we do to improve things with as little organizational 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 organization powered by engaged, innovative people? For this we look at topics such as leadership, org structure, culture, and organizational growth. The focus here is long-term sustainable growth from a holistic integrated perspective.