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How to become an agile leader

How to become an agile leader

Leading styles in the 21st century are totally different from how they were 30 years ago. Business, economic and technological environments are continuously changing at a rapid rate and stable, predictive environments appear to be something of the past. New environments require leaders to be flexible, agile and continuously on their toes. To complicate the leadership role, solutions are no longer simple and straight forward and knowledge, skill and competency are often not enough to solve these intricate challenges. History can guide us, but we need to dig deep to find solutions. Old leadership methods are no longer enough and a new way is being discovered, designed and tested by leaders.

For the traditional and conventional leader this is extremely difficult to accept and even embrace. It challenges the assumptions that stability, hierarchical leadership and control are the core principles to managing an effective and profitable company. In addition, this type of leader believes that they should have the solutions to all challenges. This mindset is limiting for both the leader and the company and he/she will need a new mindset style.

These tips will be helpful to get you to adjust and learn to use the new leadership mindset.

  1. Expand your mental mindset so that everything that was static is now fluid. Companies are live eco-systems which are continuously (and I mean every hour) changing and moving. It’s like an outside eco-system where there is some noticeable movement and other movement is happening below the surface, invisible to the naked eye. The same applies in companies – things are changing all the time and that requires vigilance through hearing, feeling, seeing and sensing. Become curious and open-minded about what is happening in your eco-system. Become still and aware so that you can notice the changes.
  1. In the business world we juggle with both constraints and possibilities. These two things often feel like they are in opposition with one another; a continuum where one side wins and the other loses and where we have to give up something to gain something else. The new agile leadership mindset is comfortable with this tension and has the ability to hold two or more opposing thoughts in more complex, agile and adaptive ways. They are able to notice the tension, and find the conventional solution to fix the challenge and not to react. They can decide if the solution is the best one that addresses all of the aspects. It’s about finding a new unique solution and for that you need your people. Through collective sharing we learn and create unique solutions. Now we are including the entire eco-system.

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The new leadership mindset requires leaders to be agile in their thinking and their approach, and to be open to the vulnerability of not knowing the solutions; curious to learn together. Accepting that we won’t always learn to solve problems the first time around and that seeking solutions is an ongoing process of failing, learning and trying again. Agility is the new leadership skill that results in success and performance. Contact us for more information today.

Leadership advice: There is nothing fluffy about listening to your gut

You’re sitting in a team or leadership meeting where an important decision needs to be made but something just doesn’t feel right. The arguments presented appear sound and well-researched but still something feels off. It’s a hunch, a sense that you have, a gut feeling! Do you make it known to the other team members? And say what? “My gut tells me this isn’t the right decision but I can’t tell you why”. People might stare at you in disbelief, wondering about your mental well-being.

This has happened to all of us at some point in our lives. Sometimes we listen to our gut and at other times we don’t, but in hindsight we frequently wish we had. We’ve all heard of successful business owners and entrepreneurs who follow their gut feeling even when the logical, factual information says something else. Richard Branson is one of these people – he mostly makes gut decisions and his business success speaks for itself.

The gut is often referred to as our second brain; rational thinking occurs in the brain but insights arise from our gut. These two “brains” are connected through the spinal cord. Starting at our prefrontal cortex (just behind the forehead) down the brain stem at the back of our neck to our spine and our central neural system. Life experiences are stored in different areas of our body; it’s all neatly compartmentalised.

The nervous system is the high-speed fibre optic highway that connects these stored experiences in a flash and gives us this somatic gut feeling. It must be noted that as we age our intuitive sensory muscles become stronger. This is because with age we experience many rich life experiences, situations and events that make our brain gut repository so much deeper. Traditionally we used to label it “wisdom”.

Good leaders take their gut feelings seriously

The challenge comes when we don’t take our gut feeling seriously and ignore it as being some odd feeling or strange mood we’re in. Life can get loud and busy with so much going on, that the gut is often not heard. However, we should become more attuned to our gut because it picks up many subconscious clues that our logical brain doesn’t always notice. To tune into the gut, we need to start creating mental introspective pauses so that we can understand the subtle message our inner guiding compasses wishes to share with us. Like the brain, the gut is there to serve us with good intention and keep us protected.

Life is about using the brain and the gut to understand and assess situations based on past experiences and emotions. It isn’t a case of either or, but combined usage to make decisions that are good for our head and heart.

Contact us for more information about leadership training today.