Today’s organizations need agile leadership more than ever. In a high-speed business environment beset by change and disruption, leaders are being called upon to make difficult decisions almost every day. Between the rapid development of technology and the speed at which information can be distributed, managing a successful team is more challenging than ever. With all of these pressures, it’s hardly a surprise that leadership agility has emerged as one of the most qualities of successful leaders.
That’s why more and more organizations are implementing agile leadership development programs to identify high-potential employees with the characteristics needed to confront these challenges. These agile leaders distinguish themselves with their ability to connect with others, adapt to changing circumstances, and deliver results. While their interpersonal skills and flexibility are crucial, their ability to drive results in the face of disruption is what truly sets the most successful leaders apart from their peers.
How Leadership Agility Drives Results
Develop a Sense of Purpose
In order to deliver results that enhance stakeholder value, leaders must first be able to define a vision of what success looks like. Every organization needs a story that brings its business goals to life, something that goes beyond simply driving profits. Agile leaders excel at crafting that story, establishing objectives that employees understand and want to accomplish. This not only allows them to inspire people to work toward those goals, but also to create a mandate that drives engagement and reinforces the values of the company’s culture. By establishing this sense of purpose, agile leaders ensure that all of an organization’s efforts feed into that singular mission.
Cultivate High-Performing Teams
No matter how well leaders lay out a vision for success, without high-performing teams in place to make that vision a reality, they’re going to have a difficult time achieving their goals. Agile leaders excel at building these teams because they have the soft skills necessary to cultivate relationships based on trust. They understand how to empower team members so they feel invested in the outcomes of their work, which keeps them engaged and proactive. Agile leaders also take responsibility for helping people to reach their potential by identifying development opportunities and pushing their teams to take on new challenges and avoid falling into a performance plateau. By keeping their teams engaged and productive, leading agile keeps negative behaviors, disengagement, and turnover to a minimum, which enhances organizational stability over time.
Agile leaders are able to adapt to changing circumstances without losing sight of organizational goals. They are fundamentally future-oriented, which helps them to see the big picture, but this also helps them to lay out a road map for getting from one point to another. Agile leaders typically exhibit high levels of systems thinking and so are able to see the connections between tasks and objectives that often escape the notice of less agile thinkers. This allows them to prioritize tasks and goals in ways that ensure every action within the organization is working toward a set of long-term goals. Although they still recognize the need to balance those goals against the demands of day-to-day circumstances, they possess the organizational agility to do so without making critical sacrifices in one area of the other.
No matter how well a team is managed or how clearly goals are defined, every leader faces unexpected challenges and setbacks throughout the course of a project. When those obstacles present themselves, agile leaders must demonstrate resilience and help their teams bounce back from disappointments and frustrations. They see failure not as an endpoint, but as a learning opportunity that will eventually contribute to success. When things are going wrong, team members can easily become discouraged or frustrated. Agility in leadership helps leaders to keep everyone calm, analyze what changes need to be made, and rally their team to work toward their primary objectives once more.
Agile leaders know that promoting accountability has to start with leadership setting a tone for following through on commitments. They understand that failing to take responsibility for their own actions and behaviors is one of the fastest ways to convince their teams that no one needs to be accountable. Although agile leaders have the flexibility to change strategies and adopt new approaches to problems, they never lose sight of their obligations or ignore the commitments they’ve made along the way. This sets a strong example for team members, who not only depend on their leader for guidance but also on one another to make good on their responsibilities. When circumstances or expectations change, agile leaders go out of their way to make sure that their teams understand what needs to be done and why it needs to be done.
As business needs continue to change and develop in response to new information, leaders can no longer afford to sit back on their heels and wait for challenges to come to them. They must be far more proactive and possess enough flexibility to react to new circumstances. A leadership agility model emphasizes the characteristics needed to build strong relationships, adjust to changes, and continue to focus on key organizational objectives without being sidetracked or blindsided along the way. This allows them to consistently invest in the right accelerators to deliver results and enhance stakeholder value. By becoming agile leaders, they can meet the challenges of the present and prepare to face the unknown events waiting in the future.