Leaders can no longer rely on the ways of the past. Command and control belongs to the dinosaurs, and tomorrow’s leaders must not only catch up with the current velocity but embrace the wild uncertainty of the future. Long-term potential is now identified by more than an individual’s skill-set – the spotlight from here on in shines on leaders who are able to listen to feedback, change their perspective to accommodate others and learn new skills. The focus is on agile learners.

What is agility in leadership?

Agile leaders are open, honest, and strongly communicate vision and values to make sure awareness lays foundations through their organisations and trust can be firmly built. As organisations grow flatter, wider and more diverse, leadership becomes a mindful group process – collective leadership (a group of people working together and committing to making big things happen) is integral to this new one-click world. Effective leadership now comprises of building this from the ground up and understanding the nature of your people – individual needs, strengths, goals and passions – and their perception about the organisation, as are key.

Focusing on the needs of their people as individuals as well as a whole, agile leaders listen , include and involve where possible as they understand that employees who feel invested in and important work to their highest potential. Collaborative and collective leadership involves people in decision-making. Attentive team-working, over time, eradicates competition and negative conflict whilst simultaneously increasing engagement and healthy conflict in a trusting and empathetic environment.

Adaptability in the workplace

Organisations proactive to the changing business climate recognise and develop these key qualities to ensure their leaders become growth-minded change agents within their organisation. Adaptability is a crucial skill that leaders must both embody and impart. Leaders capable of letting go of skills, mindsets and ideas that are outdated, nostalgic, or even comfortable, in the pursuit of new ones, will be the ones to triumph.

The attributes associated with Agile Leadership, (from Iacocca & Witney’s ‘Where have all the leaders gone?’ and Wilkinson’s ‘The Ambiguity Advantage: what great leaders are great at’), are:

  1. Ambiguity tolerance – the ability to be at ease with uncertainty
  2. Conviction – to appear solid, positive and create an environment of certainty
  3. Courage – to have the guts to step forward and take some risks
  4. Creativity – to be innovative alongside your problem-solving
  5. Critical thinking – the ability to think clearly and rationally, understanding the logical connection between ideas
  6. Curiosity – to know and practice the importance of questioning the apparent norm
  7. Emotional resilience – the capacity to bounce back in the face of stress, adversity or change
  8. Flexibility – the ability to maintain productivity during transitions or periods of chaos
  9. Vision – the ability to imagine and plan the future

How many can you identify with?

In conclusion, Lencioni’s “teamwork remains the ultimate competitive advantage” might begin to feel outdated right about now. When the world is up in arms and certainty is hard to come by, some might say that the only competitive advantage organisations have is their leader’s ability to learn faster than their competitors. Agility, it seems, is key.

Read up on resilience , effective leadership , engagement , trust , the socially aware leader and conflict as opportunity.

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