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What is Agile Leadership?

10 May 2016

Author: Richard Young 

Agile Leadership allows you to anticipate and adapt to unpredictable circumstances or environments in ways that will benefit yourself and others. While not everyone can exhibit the same levels of leadership agility, agile leaders are undoubtedly more effective leaders. 

According to research conducted by Korn/Ferry International, who assessed about one million executives, the higher up you go on the executive ladder, the more you need to become comfortable with sudden change and uncertainty. Leaders should have the capability to make sense of apparently unrelated pieces of information and ideas and be able to find solutions from them.

An agile leader would be able to make decisions on the spot even in the absence of compelling data.

In the words of Hallenbeck, Swisher and Orr, July 2011“People who are learning agile: Seek out experiences to learn from; enjoy complex problems and challenges associated with new experiences because they have an interest in making sense of them; perform better because they incorporate new skills into their repertoire. A person who is learning agile has more lessons, more tools, and more solutions to draw on when faced with new business challenges.”

According to J.P. Flaum and Becky Winkler of organisational consulting firm Green Peak Partners“a relatively new leadership quality, which researchers at Columbia University's Teacher's College call "learning agility," deserves more of a company's focus.”
Writing in the Harvard Business Review, they state that learning agility refers to a set of characteristics that help a leader"stay flexible, grow from mistakes, and rise to a diverse array of challenges." 

Agile leaders are more able to:


In the words of Flaum and Winkler, learning-agile leaders are extroverted, take charge, and challenge the status quo, but may have been described as “difficult to manage”. They have original ideas and ways of getting things done. "Learning-agile individuals generate new ideas through their ability to view issues from multiple angles."

Outperform in challenges

According to the duo, an individual must remain present and engaged to handle the stress brought on by ambiguity and be able to adapt to the situation quickly in order to perform. Pulling this off would require skill at observation and processing data and the ability to acquire new skills to tackle a situation when data has been revealed.

Reflect on experience

An agile leader seeks continual feedback and learns from previous experiences. He is aware of his own shortcomings and blind spots and uses feedback to his advantage. According to a Green Peak Partners study, self-awareness is the single highest predictor of success.

Take risks

Learning-agile leaders, according to Flaum and Winkler, are pioneering risk-takers. They are resilient and are calm in stressful situations. They are likely to volunteer for jobs where success is not guaranteed and failure may be a possibility because they like to stretch themselves outside their comfort zone.

Agile people excel at absorbing information from their experience and using it to navigate an unfamiliar situation. Agile leadership is now closely related to VUCA in the respect that Agility is considered to help counteract Ambiguity. Being Agile you will: ‘Be prepared to adapt and shift course rapidly’ and ‘Reverse potential threats into opportunities’.

At ProfitAbility we design and deliver customised business simulations for some of the world’s leading companies. The business simulations are designed specifically to change behaviour, and to deliver measurably improved business outcomes.

Agile Leadership is a new simulation designed to highlight how Agility can benefit  businesses in a VUCA world. This topic is one of the most popular subjects requested by companies looking to engage with us and some of our Business School partners.
We guarantee that our business simulations will make a difference to your organisation. That is the ProfitAbility promise. Get in touch with us, and let us help you experience a more profitable business future.


This article was originally posted on www.profitability.com


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