Read more about the article Three agile leader practices that drive superior business performance
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Three agile leader practices that drive superior business performance

In my last post, I described four competencies that differentiate leaders who are highly effective in transforming their organisations in response to significant change.

Identified in a research study at the Global Center for Digital Business Transformation, the HAVE competencies (Humility, Adaptability, Visionary and Engaged) are signature skills of agile leaders.

The study also found three behavioural practices that shape the impact agile leaders have on the way their organisations deliver results in disruptive business environments.

In combination with the competencies, these practices reinforce the openness and responsiveness that leaders and their organisations need to thrive.

Hyperawareness

Hyperawareness, the first practice, refers to constantly scanning the internal and external environment for opportunities or threats to the business and using multiple lenses to view what needs to be addressed.

Hyperaware leaders stay up to date with industry movements and detect new trends as they emerge. With a wide-screen view of the world, they look for new insights into how their organisation should position itself in the market. They are ready to guide others through a strong vision for the future.

Reflection Question: Do you have a good balance between expanding your perspective on the big picture and getting things done?

Informed decision making

The second practice is about using information to make evidence-based decisions. It has three components, well-directed information gathering, practical analysis and informed judgment. Each one is critical in moving an organisation forward in uncertain times.

However, leaders may sometimes lack sufficient data and information and must draw on experience and intuition. Whilst some may enjoy exercising personal expertise, there is a risk that they may miss creative solutions and create a ‘good enough’ culture in their organisation.

Reflection Question: What is your preferred decision-making approach, getting the facts or using your intuition? What impact does this have on your leadership style?

Fast execution

The willingness to act quickly completes the trio of practices; the positive impacts of hyperawareness and informed decision-making are magnified if leaders emphasise fast execution.

A survey by McKinsey reported that the need for speed is paramount for organisations responding to market changes in the post-covid era, with many leaders rating speed more important than reducing costs, increasing productivity, or engaging more effectively with customers.

Despite this, many things get in the way, such as behavioural norms, organisational silos, and lack of strategic clarity. Agile leaders focus on removing barriers by devolving responsibility and simultaneously encouraging autonomy.

Reflection question: Have you allowed processes or obstacles to get in the way of getting things done? What could you do differently to focus your people on achieving a goal?

Summary

In the Agile Leader model of four competencies and three practices, we have a powerful package of skills to drive business results and sustainability. For example, we recently helped a senior leadership team analyse their capability against the Agile Leader and the results clearly illustrated how and why the team became ‘stuck’ in resolving some of the problems they faced.

This information gives team members deep insight into their collective strengths and weaknesses from which they can develop an action plan to leverage the capabilities of all to achieve their business strategy and goals.

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Read more about the article What critical leadership skills do you need for success in 2022?
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What critical leadership skills do you need for success in 2022?

The demands on leaders continue to evolve as we adjust to the ongoing impact of the global virus pandemic.

Early in 2020 business leaders moved into crisis mode to keep their businesses running and their people safe. For many, it was a hard road to travel that created high levels of anxiety and fatigue.

Two years on, the challenges continue as we reorient ourselves to new ways of working.

So, what does it mean for you and your organisation?

First, the essence of great leadership hasn’t changed. Integrity, judgment, courage, strategic thinking, and the ability to deliver results are still crucially important.

However, a new set of skills has become significant in the face of ongoing disruption. A more collaborative, engaging, and agile approach is called for to guide a business forward and empower individuals and teams.

Critical elements of this approach include:

  • Maintaining personal flexibility to meet the needs of the moment
  • Seeking out views and ideas from internal and external sources, and
  • Inspiring commitment and energy from others to shared goals.

A useful model to illustrate the practical implications of what is required has emerged from research at IMD Business School.

It was found that leaders who were highly effective in transforming their organisations in the face of business disruption demonstrated agility through four differentiating competencies.

Humility

Humility is evident when leaders recognise that knowing what you don’t know can be as valuable as knowing what you do. Is this acknowledged as a leadership requirement in your business? If not, it’s time to think about what it means and why it matters.

Humble leaders recognise that one person cannot know everything needed to make critical decisions, so they seek and input from diverse sources. They see value in assembling the right team for better decision making. Their approach conveys respect for people and builds trust.

Reflection question: Does your level of expertise sometimes prevent you from learning and growing?

Adaptability

The ability to adapt is essential in complex and changing environments. However, focused adaptability based on gathering new information is a significant component of agile leadership.

Agile leaders adapt their behaviour in the short-term based on their ability to make evidence-based decisions. They are prepared to change their minds if new data comes to light, and they see this as a strength rather than a weakness.

Reflection question: When did you last change your behaviour in response to the dynamics of those around you? Was it comfortable to do?

Visionary

It has always been important for a leader to have a clear vision for the future of their organisation. However, in times of rapid change, it’s essential to discern which opportunities to pursue to support the longer-term direction of the business.

Visionary leaders have a well-defined idea of where their organisation needs to go, even if they don’t know precisely how they will get there. They know that sharing their vision is a key to motivating others to action and commitment to purpose.

Reflection question: Do you have a game plan for creating and communicating your vision? 

Engaged

Articulating a clear vision for the future and making appropriate course corrections along the way is fundamental. Communication of these factors through constant interaction with stakeholders is vital.

Agile Leaders continually engage with others, both inside and outside their organisation. They are on the lookout for new information that could reveal opportunities and threats to the business. They are curious and have a strong desire to explore, discover, learn, and discuss possibilities with others.

Reflection question: Would you benefit from putting less effort into convincing others and more into inviting their ideas?

Summary

These four competencies define the brand of agile leadership that is necessary for today and our short-term future. Look out for our next post, in which we describe how they inform the business-focused practices of highly effective leaders.

Continue ReadingWhat critical leadership skills do you need for success in 2022?