• Monday, December 04, 2023
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The case for leadership agility


Dr. Jamal was in a huge predicament. It was not that long ago that he had inherited the company from his parents. He had been running it just like his parents did back in the 1980s and 1990s. Although they were a small company, they had resources that made them a target of some of the more prominent corporations out there. There had been offers for mergers and acquisitions, but Dr. Jamal had refused to sell his birthright.

As the company expanded in numbers, it became much harder to run its affairs, with more conflicts. Many of the employees were no longer content with the way things were. Dr. Jamal’s father had managed the company with a heavy hand; he oversaw everything. Everyone at the company was expected to stay in their lane.

However, this was 2018; the world was changing around Dr. Jamal. Many of the companies that had been contemporaries had long since packed up. Things could not remain the same; what could Dr. Jamal do?

Read Also: How to eliminate toxic leadership in your organization

Agility measures how quickly you can adapt to situations that arise. When it comes to this skill of acting swiftly, there are different levels, depending on where the leader is. How agile a leader determines how they manage crisis. When a leader cannot be quick on their feet, disputes may drag on longer than necessary, putting the organization at risk of losing employees, profit, and even credibility in the marketplace.

According to Krupp,”a crisis can bring out our best and worst instincts.” This means that it is up to us to handle our emotions and proceed to hand the situation at hand. Sadly, during crises, many people’s first instinct is to start laying blames at other people’s feet, failing to realize how much time is lost when we choose to play the blame game.

By playing the blame game, we open a can of worms as we shift our focus from looking for solutions. As Krupp says, “a blame culture leads to fear of mistakes, risk aversion, putting your head in the sand, and inaction. It undermines transparency, erodes empowerment, stalls innovation, and stifles learning. It slows the fast, focused, and flexible response we need.”

Often at times, many leaders feel super comfortable operating from the sphere of the blame game. They fail to realize that they are undermining efforts to find solutions. Instead, they are infusing the environment with negative energy. Soon this energy trickles down to others, as people begin to blame each other, further escalating the situation instead of diffusing it.

Leaders in today’s competitive and unpredictable environment cannot be complacent. With environmental issues, pandemics, ever-changing political and socio-economic changes, one cannot rest on their laurels or past achievements. Leaders need to continuously keep their eyes on the ball so as not to get caught unawares and eventually drop the ball.

These complex issues we face in today’s world make leadership a challenging task, but leaders need to rise to the task. This is not the time for leaders to get bogged down by traditions that have failed in the past. Instead, leaders need to step fully into their roles of being models for collaboration, transparency, and accountability. A leader must be at the forefront, motivating and encouraging their people to learn and adapt fast, and see the urgency in getting their work done. The most agile leaders display four unique traits: adaptability, learning, resilience, and foresight.

Adaptability – This is your ability as a leader to quickly adjust or shift your priorities due to the rapid changes taking place both internally and externally. An adaptive leader does not necessarily have all the answers, but they are courageous enough to step above the fray. It takes a self-aware leader not to get entangled by all the chaos happening around them. Instead, they are quick to realize that things in the organization have shifted either through internal or external issues. To find solutions, they are not constricted by traditions. Instead, they are willing to break out of the old mindsets, launch new ideas, and be innovative.

Resilience – This is your ability as a leader to stay strong through challenges and bounce back when there are setbacks. Resilience comes with a powerful mindset. As a resilient leader, you also must prepare for setbacks. One way to prepare for complications is to have a positive mindset that sees and looks out for opportunities even when the skies are grey. Another way to prepare for setbacks is to establish a trusting relationship with the people you work with so that when setbacks occur, you can band together and come up with innovative ideas to get you back on track.

Learning – This is your ability to test assumptions and scenarios, fail fast, and continue the learning process without losing track. The Agile leader is aware and acknowledges what they donot know going into a conflict or crisis. This awareness and acknowledgments free up their mind to learn what they must, at a faster rate.

Foresight – This is your ability to anticipate and be prepared to turn when changes occur within your organization or industry quickly. If you want foresight, read about others who have shown foresight in their work as innovators and entrepreneurs by looking at their ideas and thinking behind their decisions. You will be equipping yourself with a rich resource on thinking and acting as a leader with foresight.