Why Agility Should Be Your Secret Weapon

There’s no doubt that business today is volatile – requiring leaders to sense and respond to change in a way that is focused, fast and flexible.

Tackling this challenge requires a secret weapon in your leadership toolkit – agility. The more flexible and adaptable you are, the more successful you will be, and it’s becoming more apparent across any industry.

Watching my children play the other day, my 3-year-old painted herself, me and her brother, which for her, symbolised family security and safety. In contrast my 5-year-old son had a ninja thingy which he morphed into other things to win the battle he was creating. They both chose to focus on what they valued in the moment (safety vs flexibility): like when Kodak choose the status quo, while Apple choose to be highly agile, and the rest as they say is history.

Where do you think you sit on the keeping the same vs creating different spectrum for what’s required in your role?

Agile leaders win

  • Leadership agility has emerged to be the strongest predictor for how well leader candidates will do working at a level above their current role¹.
  • Individuals with high learning agility are promoted twice as fast as individuals with low learning agility. ²
  • Companies with highly agile executives have 25% higher profit margins than their peer group. ²
  • Executives with high levels of learning agility, tolerance for ambiguity, empathy and social fluidity are five times more likely to be highly engaged. ²

So being agile counts. Yet it’s thought that only about 10% of today’s employees have the appropriate levels of leadership agility needed. ³ The reality is that many leaders are operating within bureaucratic siloed environments where short-term financial goals, low appetite for risk, and slow out-dated internal processes make being agile challenging.

Learn to become an agile leader

Here are 5 ways to build your leadership agility regardless of your environment:

  1. Bring an attitude that is open, curious and willing to learn.
  2. See the big picture and the layers that exist between that and the detail. Be able to manoeuvre between the layers to make decisions quickly.
  3. Be willing to take risks when you don’t have the detail and choose not to get bogged down into it when you do.
  4. Be able to think critically to see the gaps and think creatively to join the dots to view different solutions to the same problem. Learn to love solving problems.
  5. Be able to create certainty for others with empathy and confidence. Be okay with leading the way when you don’t know how things will pan out.

In summary, learning agility is your ability to learn, adapt, and apply yourself in constantly changing conditions. Playing your big game involves being able to change your game within the game confidently, depending on what happens around you – especially as you climb the seniority ladder. How you think about change, adapt to it and create it, will make or break what you achieve.

How are you going to become more agile?

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