Times of Uncertainty Demand It
Regardless of the amount of change and uncertainty we’ve been though, there are always some consistencies. And in terms of an organization, those consistencies rest with the attributes and behaviors of leadership. At their foundation, they are about the resilience, persistence, and ability to be agile. Only in these ways will we be able to make the organizational transformations needed for success.
The pandemic and its lingering aftershocks have transformed the workplace in countless ways. We are still experiencing high rates of absenteeism, adjustments to remote and hybrid workforces, massive supply chain issues from manufacturing to transportation to warehousing, historic inflation, and dangerously increasing instances of employee burnout and mental exhaustion. Many of us are getting through these challenging times, but others are not. So, exactly what separates them? Often, the distinguishing factor is the ability to be agile – and, as always, it starts with leadership.
What Defines an Agile Leader?
An agile leader is one who is continuously looking for new, creative, innovative solutions. One who finds ways to be more efficient by using experiments, feedback, and collaboration. Simply, an agile leader is empowered enough to empower the team, and by extension, the organization.
Agility in Problem Solving
While there is no doubt that the ability to problem solve is a key attribute for any leader, agile leaders take a different approach to their problem solving. Specifically, they rarely solve a problem behind closed doors, as many other leaders choose to do. Rather, they involve the team in seeking out feedback and collaborating with all involved.
Agile leaders are also more analytical in their problem solving. They focus on facts and metrics in collecting quantitative data to make data-driven decisions, while optimizing processes to increase efficiency. They also are not scared to try new things. In fact, they thrive on it. They use experimentation and encourage their teams to learn from mistakes when those experiments do not go as planned.
When an agile leader solves a problem, they are curious about its roots and ask more questions. When it’s time to make a change, they are capable of adapting quickly and innovating to find a new solution. They never accept the status quo or say, “This is how we’ve always done it.”
Agility in Culture
Agile leaders understand that a strong culture is the key to communication and collaboration. As such, they strive to create the most inspiring, adaptive, and open environments. They encourage employees to share ideas and feedback with the understanding that only in this way can they truly innovate as a team.
Agile leaders begin by changing their own behaviors so that they can lead by example. They neither put themselves above the team nor micromanage. Rather, they tend to work in the background and trust that they’ve put the right team in place to make the best decisions.
They are always listening and observing both internally and externally. They know what is going on with their employees, as much as what is going on with trends in the industry. In this way, they place value upon, and prioritize, the employee experience – a crucial factor in retention today.
Agility in Power Shifting
We’ve all been a part of more traditional operational systems and teams – ones where there are endless layers to reach those who hold the power, along with all the bureaucracy and red tape that goes with them. This type of system not only holds up decisions, but doesn’t allow for teams to evolve.
An agile leader will decentralize power so that it is spread more equitably throughout the team. This system creates empowered employees who are more apt to be accountable for their actions – both positive and negative. The strength of the team is prioritized over the strength and accolades of any one team member. It also helps remove the typical roadblocks to success by increasing efficiency and productivity.
Having an agile team that is resilient and ready to adapt has never been more important. But without an agile leader modeling this behavior and attitude, the team will not have the resources or tools it needs to succeed. Simply, it’s what the world needs now.
Remember, don’t do what you’ve always done because you’ll always get what you got. Let’s go get it. Let’s go win.
To hear more about this topic and others from Crystal Davis, go to https://pod.co/lead-lean