Leadership in an Agile Context at Grundfos


Grundfos is a Danish company and the world’s largest manufacturer of pumps. In 2018 the company embarked on an Agile transformation journey in line with its spread of the Year 2025 initiative. As part of this transformation, a leadership program called “Leadership in an Agile Context” was designed and implemented to enable managers to become leaders in an authentic and effective way. The program was based on Complex Responsive Processes*, and a non- dogmatic approach to leadership development.

*Complex Responsive Processes is a theory about dynamics and social life in organisations, developed by Ralph Stacey.

Program Overview

The “Leadership in an Agile Context” program spanned six months, with cohort meetings every four weeks for three hours in virtual sessions. The program had a specific focus on enabling managers to navigate uncertainty and complexity within their roles. It emphasised the importance of leadership being context-specific, not conforming to archetypes, and needing to be done with integrity and authenticity.
Reflected Best Self portrait

Key Elements of the Program

Reflect the Best Self – The program started with participants conducting a 360-degree survey to identify moments when they performed at their best. They collected stories from colleagues and analysed the patterns in their behaviours during those moments. This exercise helped participants gain insights into their authentic leadership styles.

Shared Foundation – The first session focused on creating a shared understanding of Agile and leadership concepts. It aimed to align all participants on the same field, setting the groundwork for future discussions and reflections.

Cohort Presentations – In the second session, participants presented their Reflect the Best Self narratives to their peers in the cohort. They received feedback from their peers, fostering an atmosphere of appreciation and trust.

Specific Topics and Reflections – Subsequent sessions covered specific leadership topics, and participants were given homework to reflect on the concepts in their own context. The facilitators encouraged reflexive thinking and used powerful questions to facilitate group discussions.

Outcomes and Impact

Cultural Transformation – The leadership program contributed to a cultural transformation within Grundfos. It encouraged leaders to adopt a hands-off approach, empowering their teams to make decisions and leading to increased trust and flow within the organisation.

Motivation and Well-being – The program positively impacted employee motivation and well- being. The leadership transformation led to higher employee satisfaction and motivation scores in the employee survey.

Continuity and Collaboration – The program’s narrative and continuity enabled participants to develop strong bonds and collaborate beyond the program’s completion. Study groups and peer meetings continued, leading to ongoing learning and support.

Inclusivity – Initially, cohorts were composed of volunteers, but later, Grundfos deliberately selected participants from various departments and roles, fostering inclusivity and recognising that leadership occurs at all levels of the organisation.

Employee engagement


Better Change’s “Leadership in an Agile Context” leadership program demonstrated the value of an authentic, context-specific, and non-dogmatic approach to leadership development at Grundfos. By focusing on self-discovery, reflection, and continuous learning, the program empowered leaders to navigate complexity, empower their teams, and shape the organisation’s culture. As the program continues to be implemented, its positive impact on leadership and organisational effectiveness is expected to grow.

This program is now offered publicly as a Certified Agile Leadership – Level 2 certification program under Scrum Alliance. Read more here.

(Note: The text of this case study is based on the presentation: “To become a leader is to become yourself – easy and challenging at the same time!” by Mette Bjerrekær, Grundfos and Bent Myllerup, Better Change, delivered at the Global Scrum Gathering in Lisbon, October 19. 2023.)