Agile Leadership an Introduction

Agile leadership an introduction, explains the context within which this fundamentally different approach to leadership sits. Agile leadership is part of a significant shift in how organisations thrive in environments of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. It is tempting to think of Agile Leadership as a new set of skills or practices to be learned and adopted. This is not entirely true. Whilst there are specific practices that are critical to Agile Leadership, equal importance is also given to the ‘human’ aspect of leadership at the individual level (including the leader themselves) and at the collective level.

The real challenge of Agile Leadership is not in learning the new ‘system’, it is un-doing the old habits and behaviours of the command and control school of leadership many of us have experienced since our first day at school. The ‘do as I say’ philosophy is no longer fit for purpose if organisations want to get the best out of their people, want to create amazing products and services quickly, want to react to market changes, want to delight the customer and want to be seen as ethical and honourable organisations to do business with, to buy from or to work for.

This learning pathway is chunked into nine main sections, so that you can easily consume the learning over time. These nine sections are what we believe to be the nine core principles of Agile Leadership.

They are:

  1. Actions speak louder than words 
  2. Improved quality of thinking leads to improved outcomes
  3. Organisations improve through effective feedback
  4. People require meaning and purpose to make work fulfilling
  5. Emotion is a foundation to enhanced creativity and innovation
  6. Leadership lives everywhere in the organisation
  7. Leaders devolve appropriate power and authority
  8. Collaborative communities achieve more than collections of individual
  9. Great ideas can come from anywhere in the Organisation

Agile Leadership vs Good Leadership

You may think that Agile Leadership is just “Good Leadership” and we have just added ”Agile”.  We believe that this is not the case and that Agile Leadership feels very different to, say, traditional leadership.  The differences are in leadership style and the willingness to expand capacity and extend capabilities to be more Agile.  This also feels very different to leadership where leaders are going through the motions of just doing Agile because of some wider directive.

We believe Agile Leadership is more than just “good leadership”; we would argue that it is “Great Leadership” that gets better!  Consider the following:

Agile Leadership as a Continuum

An Agile mindset does not see things in a polarised view i.e. Agile or not.  Agility is not an all or nothing quality but instead should be considered on a continuum.   The Agile Leader is one who adapts, yet there are many good leaders in organisations who rarely adapt.  Some leaders have a command and control style of leadership, but that is not to say they are bad leaders.  However, many of these leaders find it harder than others to adapt because of their mindset (See Principle 1).  Agile Leadership is something that varies and improves over time.  We feel these principles go some way to describing what we consider Agile Leadership.  We have tested these principles with a wide audience of leaders and practitioners and they have assured us that while considered to be an evolving set of principles, they are a useful start for any senior executive or manager engaging in the work of transforming their organisation into an Agile one.

So, start your journey here

Download our easy to use two page quick reference guide, click on the image below: