Leadership Agility

Leadership Agility is an extremely hot concept we see, hear and read. In today’s volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world leaders are expected to handle anything and everything that is thrown their way.

Agile seems to be the remedy to navigate in this Sea of Uncertainty. But Agile is a radical change in a Company’s Culture. Organisations that have been undergoing business agility transformations have shown tangible better results such as increased revenue, faster turnaround times, and higher-quality offerings, according to the Business Agility Institute’s 2019 Business Agility Report.

The biggest challenge highlighted is a new leadership style. As a leader you need to model behavior exemplifying the agile mindset, you need to be at the forefront of that new way to operate. The role modelling of a leader would be an essential pre-requisite of the desired result. But as said, results have indicated that leaders have not always demonstrated agile leadership skills, buy-in, or support for an agile transformation.

In my opinion, leaders need to learn new dynamic principles that will guide their teams in an ever-changing reality, developing a new culture of cooperation, so they can effectively deal with their constantly shifting reality. Because if you don’t watch out, “Your” Agile may become a covering for your obsolete management practices that causes damages, just with an Agile label stamped on it.

An Agile Leader

Agile Leaders assess, react and implement strategies rapidly and with enough responsiveness to re-calibrate and re-navigate their efforts to each new circumstance. When presented with key moments of choice, agile leaders move quickly and responsively, and offer coping strategies for this unprecedented rate of change. Agile Leaders somewhat seem to have more choices. It seems that agile ways of leading and working would be allowing more mental agility, ruthlessly but also courageously prioritising, and delegating decision-making. Agile teams seem to flourish in this new uncertain world. On top, Agile Leadership is a key success factor in any enterprise’s agile transformation.

Leading Yourself to Agility

Authenticity Matters. Basically every leader, or person, has its unique personality, and each one has probably been providing the best of him- or herself when demonstrating his or her own authentic style, rather than trying to follow a prescribed set of guidelines, or, even worse, when trying to copy someone else. Leaders should seek clarity and focus for themselves, as the first and essential step to leading others well – is great self-leadership. You open a great chance to transform into a resilient leader to empower and motivate, and at the same time ensure the achievement of operational results. By being an Agile Leader for yourself.

Leading People vs. Managing People. Numerous leaders were promoted into leadership roles based on their expertise rather than their people or leadership skills. They have been decision-makers who assigned tasks and work to subordinates. With the pace of change ongoing, these traditional leaders holding their managers accountable in a traditional way will not create that desired result. Give yourself a chance and learn how to have short, impactful conversations with your people, and to develop the ability to assess where their team members may be blocked from moving forward themselves.

Leading Your Team to Agility

Your Common Values. You won’t create complete success unless you re-navigate the whole system. And practicing agility only within certain departments of your organisation isn’t as effective as practicing business agility throughout your whole organisation, and the very same applies to agile leadership within your whole organisation. Functional Agile teams work to identify the existing de facto values. New, courageous teams work to define desired values, “wannabe” values that are missing and you need to develop these for your team to progress. 

The Right Mindset. Universal for Agile are attributes like empowering others, giving maximum autonomy to staff, and involving them in the decision-making process at appropriate levels. There is no one-size-fits-all answer, even when it comes to a specific leadership style. But understanding and adopting an Agile Mindset forms the basis for your very own strong leadership. Agree on those and be honest to yourself how you behave and act accordingly.

Deeply and Strategically Navigate. Your Leadership Team must agree on your common values, create your practical vision of the future and develop the strategy and tactical plan to achieve it. Examine what’s holding you back as a Leadership Team, what is stopping your Organization, and what you can do to overcome your key barriers as a team. Evaluate, at best with a solid process, to identify areas where performance has broken down and where teams need to focus on. Focus on building greater effectiveness, enable to synchronise realities, objectives and motivations at a personal, interpersonal and organisational level.

There is no right or wrong, and that’s the challenge, and the chance. Because everything depends on your very own context. When you are dealing with your very own uncertainty and the change that impacts you, there’s no such thing as a leadership book you could pull out of the shelf that will tell you what to do in every situation. To create your own new success phase.

Your Next Steps

Bring in someone to sit beside you to help you navigate through these times of change. Training may help you learn concepts, but it won’t stick, and it isn’t appropriate for a new leadership style. Especially in these difficult times. You will need someone challenging you on your direction, you core values, your limiting beliefs and how you plan and execute. 

Be open. Start questioning the answers you are giving to yourself. 

I hope the above helps you to go your first steps. Good luck.

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