Our first article on agile leadership was written on 5 September 2016. That’s almost three years before the phrase “agile leadership” became a familiar business buzzword. Today, we hear and read about agile leaders, agile managers, agile employees, and agile organisations all the time. While reading through that blog, I feel that we were on the button with our comments, but would like to add some new wisdom and information.
Defining Agile Leadership
Let’s start by defining what an agile leader is, and how it differs from previous names such as authentic, transformational, democratic, or autocratic leader. An agile leader can lead a wide range of complex and diverse circumstances, and is able, in a crisis situation, to realign human resources where most needed. In the current VUCA (vulnerable, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) business world, agile leaders are nimble and light on their feet; able to adjust their decisions, focus, and attention on the spur of the moment, while innovating, inspiring and motivating their team to commit to the new strategy.
Characteristics of Agile Leaders
Leadership experts and researchers have identified that an agile leader demonstrates four core characteristics:
- A deep sense of purpose of why their team and organisation exists, and what they intend to achieve. This sense of purpose brings focus, clarity, meaning, a sense of belonging, and direction.
- Being comfortable with the complex unknown means having a vigilant eye for change and opportunities. Feeling confident, positive and familiar with the uncertainty and navigating through it.
- Experimenting and trying things out speaks directly to being open-minded, growing and learning. Being courageous and brave to charter unknown waters. Inspiring others to be creative and innovative.
- A lifelong student who never stops learning, exploring and growing. Conscientiously expanding their knowledge and competencies. And if they don’t know, then being streetwise enough to know where to go to nd the information.