The Olympics are on, finally, a year later than planned and minus a physical audience. It is an amazing spectacle. I am not exactly glued to the television, but do enjoy seeing the highlights of the various athletes achievements as they compete for medals in the Olympic Games. Many years of training reach their peak as these athletes line up to compete against other nations. Being agile is key. One thing is certain it will not have been a straight path to get to this point. The attitude of both athlete and coach will be one of constant adjustment, trying new things and being agile enough to take advantage of or create ways in which success can be achieved. In my experience it is the same in leadership, the world in which we now operate needs agile leadership.
How can you be agile in your leadership?
A VUCA World
In the 1990’s as the US Army was getting to grips with the theatre of operations in Afghanistan, they coined an acronym to describe the situation; VUCA. This stands for Volatile, Uncertain, complex and ambiguous. If the last few months have taught us anything then it is how appropriate this acronym is in the world in general. If you are to navigate it successfully then being agile in your approach will give you an advantage.
In the research for my book ‘I See You’ (final proof being reviewed as I write this!) it was clear that the way leadership has been done is not necessarily fit for purpose in the 21st Century. If I was to name one thing that agile leadership requires it would be self-awareness. The agile leader has to lead from the inside out. If the outside world is becoming more complex and uncertain then the certainty has to come from within. The foundation is the onboard values and principles that a leader operates from by which they create a culture of trust and authenticity around them.
A World of Discovery
When you are aware of your tendencies, your strengths, the things that don’t always have positive consequences, you can then choose not to default to your tendency and show up differently. Becoming aware of who you are so that you can be a better, more agile leader gives you the freedom to empower the people you lead to bring the best version of themselves. The environment needed in teams to meet the challenges being encountered now, is one of safety where the team is collaborating together without fear or favour, towards a common goal.
To do the hard work associated with self-awareness you will need courage. An agile leader must work on the inside so that they can lead with bravery and authenticity. Agility comes from understanding that new things must be tried if we are to achieve a different outcome, be it a new way of working, or meeting customer needs. It is a posture of discovery and learning. The new normal that is emerging needs agile leaders who are secure enough in themselves to create an environment that is creative, innovative and safe to try and suggest new things. In short, “an agile leader creates an environment where people feel safe and belong, where human ability is nurtured, valued and unleashed.” (article in NRG HR)
The great thing to realise is how much help is available to support you as a leader to make this transition. To clearly understand your foundational leadership voice is a liberating experience for you and those you lead.
Agile leadership is best described for me in this quote from Brené Brown:
‘To scale daring leadership and build courage in teams and organizations, we have to cultivate a culture in which brave work, tough conversations, and whole hearts are the expectation, and armour is not necessary or rewarded. We have to be vigilant about creating a culture in which people feel safe, seen, heard, and respected.’
I offer a free assessment to discover your foundational leadership voice. To take advantage click this link, fill in your details reference 5 Voices and move to increase your agility in this VUCA world.
Photo by Peter Simmons from Pexels