The concept of “agile” work processes originated in the realization that far too often middle management was doing more to hold employees back than facilitate their success. The concept has since moved beyond scrum masters and the world of software development, to help employees in an array of professions and industries become more efficient, effective, and productive.
But what exactly is agile leadership? Why is it important for your organization? And what does it look like in practice?
Here’s how to identify the qualities of agile leadership and implement its principles at your company.
What is Agile Leadership?
Executives and team leaders who pursue a leadership style of agility prioritize collaboration over hierarchy and constant learning over safeguarding past decisions. These principles allow them to enable their teams and projects to take effective, innovative action in complex, rapidly changing conditions based on purpose and an open mindset towards change.
How does Agile Leadership benefit your business?
Agile leadership is a leadership style that strives to remove roadblocks to success so that employees can be more effective and productive while keeping engagement rates high and creating a sense of belonging with talents.
Since agile teams work together better, agile leadership drives better business outcomes with less wasted time and resources. By empowering teams, agile organizations can unleash the full power of their workforce.
In addition to the above, over the last two decades the abilities to adapting to fast-paced change, successfully navigating environments of increased uncertainties, being able to pivot and innovate have become increasingly important to secure the overall survival of business:
Since 2000, 52% of Fortune 500 companies no longer exist.
Currently, 75% of all VC-funded startups don’t survive, 33% of small businesses fail, and only about 30% of family-owned businesses make it into the second generation (Predictive Index).
Therefore, leadership as well as overall business agility are both essential in a constantly evolving world of work. Borrowing concepts from agile methodology enables companies to pivot more quickly in response to external factors. Adopting an agile mindset helps organizations visualize improvement on a granular level by allowing teams to experiment with improved products and processes.
Successful leadership today requires building relationships and driving results in the midst of rapid change and complexity.
Equipping your Leaders for Leadership in Agile Organizations
Before you can implement agile transformation across your workforce, you have to identify the qualities that define an agile leader.
Traditionally, leadership candidates have been selected because they’re high performers in their previous roles. But high performers in other positions don’t necessarily possess the qualities you need in an agile leader. Instead, seek to identify leadership candidates who are capable of adapting quickly to change, display curiosity, are open to innovation, show a solid foundation of self-awareness, an ability to reflect on opportunities, shift perspectives for the greater good, respond in ways that enhance relationships and can communicate effectively with their teams.
You can help individuals with potential become agile leaders. You’ve located candidates with the right leadership qualities, now provide the support to foster those traits. One of the best ways to develop agile leaders is by giving them time to learn on the job. Shadowing agile leaders in cross-functional training can help leadership candidates observe agile behaviors in action, which they can then put into practice themselves.
Agile leaders are more humane, democratic, and inclusive leaders. They give their teams the “why” and trust them to discover and deliver the “how.” They provide their teams with the autonomy to self-organize, create and do the work.
Analyzing and Growing with a Leadership Development Training
Understanding and creating an awareness for a leader’s current leadership mindset and behavior — and how they influence and impact others — is often the first, necessary step towards becoming a more effective leader.
The Boost2Rethink trainings help leaders identify and understand where they are and where they want to be. It makes it possible for them to chart a path to get there. These programs help heighten awareness, sharpen focus, improve connectedness, upskill on the necessary tools and increase influence as a leader.
Whether the leader or leadership team are first-line managers, executive leaders, or somewhere in between, our development programs provide inspiring and pragmatic techniques to increase leadership agility.
Written by Chantal Schmelz and Patrycja Pielaszek who are the co-founders of Boost2Rethink.
At Boost2Rethink, Patrycja Pielaszek and Chantal Schmelz catalyze the potential of leaders, empower people, and enable teams to lead change and elevate organizations to navigate uncertainty, learn, evolve, and innovate from idea to impact.
We facilitate processes with the help of agile methods and our experience as business advisors to create sustainable change with impactful results for your organization.