How To Become an Agile Leader | The Secret to Growing Your Business
Traditional leadership practices are outdated and ineffective in today’s workplace. With the introduction of the internet, email, and smart phones, business has changed. Leaders and organisations who refuse to evolve are finding themselves ineffectively trying to engage a disengaged workforce.
What is Agile Business?
True Agile Leaders are inclusive, democratic leaders who exhibit a greater openness to ideas and innovations. With a passion for learning, a focus on developing people, and a strong ability to define and communicate a desired vision, they possess all of the tools necessary to successfully inspire others and become an agent for change within any organisation.
Agile leaders focus on the needs of others. They acknowledge other people’s perspectives, give them the care they need to meet their work and personal goals, involve them in decisions where appropriate, and build a sense of community within their teams.
This leads to higher engagement, more trust, and stronger relationships with team members and other stakeholders.
How Do You Become an Agile Leader?
True Agile Leaders…
- Embrace every aspect of agility
- Set a clear vision that their team can embrace and own
- Believe in their mission and live it on a daily basis
- Build a culture of self-organising and self-managing teams
- Focus on what really matters- delivering value
- Help their team members take care of the customers
How Do I Make My Business More Agile?
Agile isn’t just for tech businesses, any business can use agility to springboard their growth. Companies with an agile culture that embraces and adapts to change, can turn uncertainty into opportunity, and flourish when other businesses fail.
Here are ten ways your business can become more agile today by adopting agile thinking:
- Ensure that a balance is maintained between running the day-to-day activities of the business and making time for continuous improvement and development
- Cut Yourself Some Slack for Growth and Improvement
- Gain Clarity and Visibility
- Find the 20% of Your Work That Delivers 80% of the Value
- Make Sure Your Metrics Do More Than Just Look Good.
- Think Big – Act Small
- Run Sprints Not Marathons
- Have a Morning Team Meeting
- Regularly Reflect and Review Progress
- Empower Your Teams
What Defines an Agile Leader?
Based on extensive observation, research and practice around leadership it has been determined that Agile Leaders—those who exemplify what it means to be a leader—exhibit eight key behaviours. This framework can be used to identify, support and develop agility in your own leaders:
- Agile leaders set direction. Never afraid to stand up and take charge, agile leaders have a clear sense of direction and communicate it with ease. They understand how organisations, teams and other constituents can respond to a changing industry.
- They see the big-picture vision and the path to getting there. Agile leaders will continuously clarify the direction for others and empower people to achieve the organisation’s vision. Agile leaders execute and follow through with calculated speed. When critical business opportunities or project challenges arise, agile leaders know how to balance quick decisions with careful planning and organising in order to maximize results.
- They know how to communicate effectively to drive buy-in among key stakeholders as well as push accountability among team members. Because agility requires speed, clear communication is essential for the agile leader. Teams working with agile leaders understand their roles, know what results they are accountable for, and are empowered to get there.
- They know how to effectively align resources. Tight budgets and a lack of resources aren’t a problem for agile leaders. Rather than complaining or allowing these challenges to stop them, leaders who show agility can leverage those around them to address even the smallest items.
- They understand how everyone fits into the big picture and how team members will be integrated into an operational change or the adoption of a new game-changing strategy. They are inclusive and understand the power of utilising resources effectively. They also spot hurdles on the horizon and know how to get those obstacles out of the way so that their people can move swiftly in the right direction.
- Agile leaders inspire others to achieve seemingly impossible goals. The best leaders can effectively infuse their passion into others and help employees achieve their own goals. In some cases, agile leaders can even help others tackle achievements that seemed impossible at the outset. The agile leader also values all types of learning and can spot applications to their roles, teams and organisations. Famously, the agile leader is a role model; he or she is an example of adaptability and commitment to self-growth.
- They also motivate others to be early adopters to new strategies or procedures, even when change seems difficult. Agile leaders move others from what they’ve always done to a new way of being, all while factoring in their team members’ individual perspectives.
- They put the spotlight on others. Agile leaders possess strong emotional intelligence: They know how to focus on the needs and emotions of others and respond appropriately.
So, while agile leaders embrace change, they also understand that change can trigger emotions like fear and uncertainty, and they provide their team members with positive energy and a sense of confidence. Agile leaders help others move from feeling fearful to accepting a challenge for change.
In their quest to find answers and underlying truths, agile leaders know how to ask the tough questions, and they don’t settle for surface responses. They spot how an operational change might negatively impact another part of the business, for example, and then quickly address the issue. They know when to utilise intuition and gut instinct, but they also know when to dive deeper into the data to make the best possible decisions for their organisations.
They understand the talent development process. Agile leaders have the humility and foresight to know that they can’t tackle the organisation’s problems alone, so they inspire others to grow along with them. They spot individuals who are excited about learning and then they provide them with the opportunities for development.
Perhaps most importantly, agile leaders aren’t afraid of challenges or failure. They view mistakes as learning opportunities. They are kind to themselves and balance a push for self-excellence with an understanding that fumbles are part of leadership development. They understand their own strengths and weaknesses and set clear goals for self-development.
Some leaders are inherently more agile than others, but research shows that this trait can be fostered and developed. The pivotal mistake many firms make is assuming that promotions, new assignments and ladder climbing provide their leaders the “experience” to be successful. However, time and technical training do not guarantee that your leaders will develop the skills they need to lead your business.
If you adopt agile leadership in your business or if you have any comments about this guide, we’d love to read them below.