What is Agile Leadership All About?
Markets are to a large extent becoming more volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous which is the meaning of the abbreviation VUCA. Unpredictable events around the world can have a great effect; whether positive or negative on the outcome of the market and these will one way or the other affect organizations. You can learn more about this concept here.
With this unpredictability, organizational leaders find it more difficult to make decisions as they are not sure of the next event or what its effects on the market will be.
Traditional leadership traits and expertise are not enough in this unpredictability so there is a need for something more. How do you tell what will happen tomorrow or what effect something happening, maybe in Asia, will have on the rest of the world?
To combat this, agile leadership as a practice can be employed.
What is Agile Leadership?
This is the act of an organization creating an enabling environment for self-organization; an environment consisting of teams that collaborate and learn from each other while relying on quick feedbacks from users, focusing on quality and learning continuously.
The agile leader balances structure and disorder and does not micro-manage teams. Rather, they are allowed to independent but with a sense of responsibility to their company. This system allows teams to have the freedom of making their decisions and also respond to changes and opportunities faster.
An agile organization requires leaders and teams to organize and manage their work and also measure results. This requires that everyone in the organization be involved as it will bring about profound changes in the way work is done and also in the results that will be achieved as the teams pursue the defined goal.
Agile leadership is a derivative of the agile methodology in management.
What is Agile?
Agile is a process or set of values and principles used in project management that define how people in an organization interact and relate with each other. It is a practice in which teams break a project into a number of easily manageable chunks and stages. All through the project, they collaborate with stakeholders to continuously improve the project in a tactile manner.
Agile encourages that a project’s end goals and expectations be well defined while teams are tasked with working out ways to achieve these goals. This they do by planning, executing the plans and evaluating what they have done before moving on to other aspects of the project. The idea is to take small steps each time, review the steps, make adjustments and repeat the process till the whole project is done. This helps to eliminate or reduce errors, increase efficiency, and also manage time and resources properly.
As seen above, agile leadership can simply be defined as a leadership style that is based on the agile principle.
What are the Characteristics of An Agile Leader?
There are about three critical characteristics that must possess. Let’s quickly look at them below.
Easy to Connect
To be successful, leaders must learn and understand how to establish connections with teams in their organization. Being able to inspire and create a collaborative environment is what sets them apart and this is based on their ability to connect. One of the ways to do this is through leading by example.
Before a leader can connect, they have to be self-aware and understand themselves including their emotions. These help them to put themselves in check and when there is a need to empathize with a colleague, they can.
Another way they can connect is by being upright and acting with integrity, consistent and being committed to their team members and their welfare.
One interesting thing about business and life generally is that dynamics change from time to time. The ability to adjust in these times is what makes a successful leader. They must be aware of situational changes and how these will affect their organization and must provide strategic direction to adapt to these situations and in turn be able to inspire teams to follow them. Applying the same methods and strategies for every situation can be detrimental. Each situation will demand a new approach.
Also, they must recognize how systems work, how different parts of their company interact and how a change in a section may affect other areas. Understanding all these make for proper decision making for the health of the company.
This is very important as that is the end goal of everything. Leaders find ways to deliver results by driving performance. They know how to encourage and motivate teams to work optimally for greater productivity. This is also dependent on the previously discussed characteristics of connecting with teams and adapting to different situations as they appear.
Agile is about taking small steps so leaders must know and understand how to incrementally carry out steps towards achieving the larger goals. As they deal with the challenges of each day, keeping the big picture in mind, they use values such as persistence, time management, thoughtful planning, and patience to achieve whatever they need to.
Who can be an Agile Leader?
This can be any one in a leadership position in an organization. Whether middle level or senior management, anyone that can bring a positive change and inspire people in an organization.
Managers, CEOs, and most leaders of organizations can become agile leaders through proper agile training.
Agile Leadership Training
Agile leadership training teaches what it takes to lead in complex environments. However rapid the pace of change or however unpredictable situations may be, leaders can stay ahead of it all using less energy but yet effectively delivering results.
It teaches leaders to be democratic, inclusive andalso exhibit an openness to innovation and fresh ideas. They also learn how to effectively communicate a desired outcome or vision using both words and action.
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