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3 Traits of Successful Agile Leaders

by Aware

What does successful agile leadership look like? We explore three traits of top leaders that keep them ahead in the evolving future of work. 

In today's rapidly changing business landscape, agile leadership is critical to an organization's ability to weather challenges and upheaval. Agile leaders can adapt on the fly and lead their teams through uncertain times while maintaining a strategic focus. They are able to respond to adversity, make adjustments to strategy, complement themselves, and overcome resistance to change. They are essential to their organization’s longevity and success.  

Trait 1: Agile leaders respond to adversity before it becomes a crisis 

Adversity is an inescapable part of life that can — and should — be trained for on a daily basis. In the same way a sports team drills to become the best they can be and overcome the challenges of an opponent or course, so business units should prepare for the everyday adversity they may face. Adversity is hard, but when you’ve assembled the right team and you’re all playing to your strengths, adversity helps you maximize your function. 

This is different to a crisis, which is a situation where you have to take extraordinary risks in order to survive. A climber facing a tough ascent is tackling adversity — they can predict the challenges it presents and train for it. But if they fall and become trapped, they’re now facing a crisis. They may have to take unprecedented steps to escape the situation. 

Adversity can become a crisis when it's not dealt with in a timely manner. Understanding the difference between adversity and a crisis is critical to responding appropriately and avoiding doing more damage to the company by under or overreacting.  

By responding early to adversity, agile leaders can identify potential issues and take action to address them before they become significant problems. This proactive approach saves time, money, and resources, and makes it more likely that the company will come out stronger on the other side. 

Trait 2: Agile leaders make the smallest possible adjustments to strategy 

Strategy is just another term for decision-making. Big adjustments to strategy are often difficult, expensive, and risky, and have a high potential to fail. Agile leaders understand that making small adjustments to strategy is more effective than making big changes. 

Small adjustments to strategy help large enterprises correct course effectively. They allow the company to pivot when necessary, without disrupting the entire organization. This approach helps companies stay focused on their long-term goals while also being able to respond to short-term changes in the business environment. 

Trait 3: Agile leaders complement, not replicate, themselves 

Mature leaders understand that their perspective is not the only one that matters. If everyone sounds like them and agrees with them, chances are high they are overlooking details that could be important. Great leaders look for people who can support their work by complementing what they do and covering their blind spots. 

Leadership is cooperative and requires different viewpoints. Agile leaders recognize this and build diverse teams with people who have different skills, experiences, and perspectives. This approach helps organizations avoid groupthink and promotes creative thinking and problem-solving. 

Bonus Trait: Agile leaders overcome resistance to change 

Big organizations often resist change because it’s easier to maintain the status quo. However, the world is changing, and businesses need to change with it to survive. Agile leaders understand this and are willing to take risks and overcome resistance to change. 

Agile leaders are required to steer their companies into the future and ensure their continued success. They create a culture of innovation and are always looking for ways to improve their processes and products. They understand that change is necessary for growth and success. 

Final thoughts 

Being an agile leader is critical to an organization's success in today's business world. Agile leaders respond to adversity before it becomes a crisis, make small adjustments to strategy, complement themselves, and overcome resistance to change. By adopting these traits, leaders can create a culture of innovation and lead their companies into the future. 

Download our free e-book on Thriving in the Future of Work to read real success stories of agile leaders in action.

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Topics:Employee Experience