Agility In Leadership
“Speed will follow when the mechanism of the movements is more assured.”
In an increasingly complex and fast-paced leadership world, what does the Agile Leader obsess about?
Three things. Just three and they are:
The agile leader focuses on these things and the benefits of them follow. Typically we are tempted to focus on the benefits and be frustrated when they don’t actualize quite the way we had hoped. The agile leader focuses on the inputs, the development spaces, the steps forward and the most ‘value added’ behaviours for their team and mission.
So the agile leader focuses on these three elements while asking these five questions.
How do I become more?
Originally inspired by a distant mentor of mine Jim Rohn would say “If you want to have more then you need to become more.” Jim was also prone to suggesting people should make it a goal to become a millionaire not so much because of what they got by it but because of what they BECAME as a result of aiming high.
Becoming more comes from a place of stewardship and gratitude. Making good use of the talents and capabilities you have for the benefit of most people. Becoming more is based on the conviction that an increase in capacity can benefit more people more of the time. Becoming more means creating the ability to more quickly reach your potential and more effectively contribute to others lives.
What will bridge the gap between expertise and agile leadership?
The HBR Article Seven Transformations of Leadership indicates that leadership CAN be developed and cultivated. Being an expert in your field is never a bad thing. In fact, it’s to be encouraged. However, there are levels above expertise that can begin to harness the expertise of groups, movements even. There are skills that gather thinkers and doers together and imagine what a radically transformed future could look like.
Agile leaders look beyond expertise. In fact, being really really good at what you do is not an end but a beginning for the agile leader. Learning to harness the power of gathered expertise to create a preferred future! That’s agile leadership.
How does problem-solving and people development become second nature?
On all levels of leadership development spaces, the questions that are consistently being asked are “How can we solve bigger problems at a faster rate with better outcomes?” We, in fact, hold to a mantra that says WE MAKE THE PROBLEMS THAT WON’T GO AWAY, GO AWAY! Life and leadership aren’t about looking for problems, but it sure is about solving them.
In an I.T team I used to lead back in Zimbabwe, we had a saying that helped us make sense of any challenge that came our way. We simply said, “we can make sense of or solve most problems in 24 hours”. Einstein said, “If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.” Our strategy gave us perspective, energy and a game plan to tackle even what we considered to be the most insurmountable problems. On most occasions, it worked too, kudos to Lloyd and Simba!
How do I help others maximise their potential?
What you have is NOT for you. Truly. You benefit from your skills and abilities but over time keeping the benefit of them just for you is plain selfish. This is a paradox of leadership and more said than done. The agile leader invests significant time and resources into ensuring the people around them enjoy profound levels of development, recognition and productivity.
As I increasingly lean into this area I find the disciplines around focusing on and developing people need to become a priority over most other activities except the ones that only I can do. Most functional areas of leadership can be delegated, people can be hired, trained and equipped. Those few areas of contribution that you have and the responsibility of increasing the quality and quantity of leaders in your organisation fall to you and you alone.
How can I prepare and position myself for more responsibility?
Agile leaders are always asking themselves three really important developmental questions. The first is “Where next?” This deals with direction. What is the new horizon to steer the ship towards? The second is “What’s next?” This focuses on activity. The third and perhaps even more important is “Who’s next?” Knowing who is advancing and becoming increasingly capable of leadership is a key to organisational health and growth.
In addition, agile leaders are positioning themselves for new opportunities and growth. The privilege of helping someone get ready for a future opportunity is a key characteristic of the Fifteen Percent Leader.
Grow as a leader, develop people and solve problems. This is what an agile leader looks like.