4 tips to move from ‘old school’ to an agile framework
Today’s business leader must be adaptable. But shifting from a traditional leadership style—based on organizational charts and rigid processes—to an organic, out-of-the-box, customer-centric style doesn’t come naturally. Nevertheless, that’s exactly what modern leaders must do to inspire, motivate, and empower employees to greatness. The key is to embrace strategic and agile leadership.
4 Tenets of Agile Leadership
Background: Agile leadership spawned from the Manifesto for Agile Software Development, in which 17 software developers committed to four values:
- “Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
- Working software over comprehensive documentation
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
- Responding to change over following a plan”
Clearly, the underlying premise here is to remove obstacles and make connections.
While these four values initially applied to software development, the agile framework’s “directives are also about leadership—influencing culture and creating an organization where people can collaborate to meet the needs of their customers,” states Agile Connection.
Technology, societal inclusiveness, and a global business climate all play a role in today’s constantly evolving corporate culture. It would make sense, then, that leadership skills should be flexible as well.
“Flexibility, adaptability and resilience are qualities of leadership that any organization ought to value,” notes Harvard Business Review (HBR). After all, these qualities and attributes of “learning agility” are what allow an individual to stay flexible, grow from mistakes, and rise to a diverse array of challenges, suggests HBR.
Pitfall: That isn’t always the case though, as organizations tend to prefer qualities that are easy to measure and track in their employee development.
Perhaps that explains why people management skills have not evolved at the same rate as other business processes. For instance, while business technology has changed significantly over the last decade, “the principles and practices taught in business schools across the country have remained the same,” states Center For Agile Leadership.
That’s a problem, according to the organization, which notes that “[l]eaders and organizations who refuse to evolve are getting left behind.”
4 Tips For The Agile Leader
As you seek to develop agile leadership in your organization, keep these tips in mind:
- Go ahead and fail. That is, if you do it quickly. “Fail fast,” states Testing Excellence. “A good agile leader should ensure that teams have courage to try out new technologies and approaches.” The goal is to have the failures be small and happen early so big failures don’t strike at the end of a project, suggests Testing Excellence.
- Make communication an in-person affair. Communicate clearly, succinctly, and with minimal interference. In other words, opt for “face-to-face communication [that] minimizes the need for unnecessary documents, emails, and other forms of low-bandwidth communication,” suggests Testing Excellence. Frequent communications between different teams also promote a short feedback loop that reduces misunderstandings, suggests Testing Excellence.
- Jump on—and solve—problems. Today’s business environment is complex! “Leaders must be problem solvers who can make decisions under rapidly shifting circumstances,” notes Forbes. “Even before any definitive information is available, effective leaders must assess a situation’s complexity and choose appropriate courses of action.”
- Definitely take risks. Agile leaders must be willing to try something new. “An agile leader takes on roles where success is not a guarantee and where failure is very much a possibility,” states Entrepreneur. “They are constantly thinking outside the box and always learning about new ways of doing business that’ll eventually lead to success.”
Learn To Lead The Agile Way
While the best practices of traditional leadership remain important, leaders in the modern world must update their perspective and skillset to open up new avenues for advancement—both for their employees and their organizations as a whole.
Preparing for a strategic and agile leadership role and the responsibilities that go along with it requires additional learning beyond basic business-school training.
(This post first appeared in a ProfEd blog)
By Amy P on 26th December 2018