— October 24, 2018
Today’s ideal leadership candidates are not necessarily employees with the most experience or expertise. One of the key differentiators among top leaders is leadership agility, or the ability to balance multiple challenges. Agile leaders help companies foster connections, help people achieve peak performance, and encourage both innovation and change.
Impactful leaders tend to possess three critical capabilities that allow them to excel and provide significant value to their teams. By learning to connect, adapt, and deliver, they develop the flexibility that true agile leadership demands.
Agile leaders must first understand how to establish meaningful connections in the workplace before they can make an impact. Their ability to inspire, influence, and foster a collaborative environment is what helps to set them apart from their peers. They exhibit leadership behaviors that set the tone for organizational alignment, which contributes to employee and stakeholder buy-in. Leading by example is one of the best ways for agile leaders to establish the credibility that allows them to use influencing strategies more effectively.
Part of what allows agile leaders to connect so effectively is their ability to maintain self awareness. They understand their own emotions and motives, which makes it easier for them to learn to keep their own personal biases in check and empathize with team members. Although many agile leaders naturally possess high emotional intelligence, they can greatly benefit from development programs that incorporate strategies to improve adaptability and agile leadership principles.
Demonstrating personal integrity is also critically important for agile leaders. By acting with consistency, honoring commitments, and taking responsibility for actions and decisions, they take gradual steps toward building trust and support among their team members. When leaders are perceived to lack integrity, they will find it much more difficult to influence others and establish productive connections.
An effective agile leader has the ability to recognize changing dynamics and adjust rapidly to overcome challenges, reimagine strategic direction, and propel transformation and innovation. Situational awareness is a key competency in this area because it helps leaders to understand how external and internal events can impact a company’s effectiveness as well as affect the people involved at various levels of the organization. Agile leaders know that applying the same strategies repeatedly without making adjustments based on the situation can severely undermine performance.
Systems thinking also helps agile leaders to recognize how different elements of an organization interact with one another, which allows them to anticipate how changes in one area may impact others. This is especially important in large organizations, where any action might produce various consequences in other departments, many of them unintended.
Understanding both contextual situations and organizational structures helps agile leaders make decisions that minimize trade-offs and account for both short and long-term goals. They learn to strike a balance between efficiency and innovation, often without complete or perfect information.
While it’s important for leaders to be able to connect with others and adapt to changing circumstances, they must ultimately be able to deliver positive results for their organizations. Effective agile leaders find ways to drive performance and generate consistent and reliable results by investing in the right accelerators, and cultivating high-performance teams committed to customer and shareholder value creation. In many ways, the ability to deliver is dependent on the other agile leadership competencies. The ability to connect and adapt puts them in a position to deliver, but unless they can follow through, their teams will have difficulty accomplishing their goals.
Agile leaders tend to excel at prioritizing. They identify big-picture goals and understand how to take gradual steps toward achieving them. While they are effective at dealing with day to day challenges, they never lose sight of the organization’s overarching mission. Through careful planning, time management, and patience, agile leaders continuously adjust their efforts to keep their teams productive, efficient, and engaged.
From change situations to everyday conflict management, agile leaders continuously work to overcome challenges and deliver results. But far from following an established blueprint, they understand that every situation is different. In some instances, they may have to reallocate resources or delegate tasks to people they trust. In addition, without their ability to connect and adapt, they would not be able to build the trust and credibility to guide their teams through difficulties.
In today’s fast-moving business environment, agile leaders are more valuable than ever. Whether shaping work cultures, building consensus, or inspiring team members to keep them engaged, these leaders deliver positive results for their organizations. It’s crucial, then, for companies to invest in assessment and development programs that help build leadership agility.