5 Competencies of Agile Leadership

5 Competencies of Agile Leadership

Experts and fake experts have written volumes on the qualities that distinguish superior leaders from the rest of us.

Through my work with the top and most successful multinational companies I’ve realized that it all is all about agility, or the extent to which an executive is capable of balancing many options and challenges at once. A flexible and agile leader has the ability to keep a business running smoothly , by effectively navigating effective process, employees and innovations. A focus on one aspect can derail the performance of other. For example, a desire to be obsessed to be efficient can cause an organization to eliminate all activities that don’t directly contribute to the operation, for instance, training for leaders and R&D.

Through my experiences of studying and developing leaders that meet this criteria I’ve identified five key skills, or traits that all agile and flexible leaders share. Below is a quick overview of each one of them.

1. Situational Awareness

Situational awareness is a way of understanding the way that events both internal and external such as mergers, market competitions, or other mergers could affect a company’s efficiency. It is about understanding the needs and emotions of those who are affected by the events, and the effect on the operations.

For example, leaders who have excellent situational awareness know the impact of a merger on the morale of employees and their performance. They will try their best to keep employees calm and keep them up to date on the most recent developments.

2. Systems Thinking

Complex issues often are caused by multiple factors, and could include actions taken prior to address other issues. In large corporations each action may produce multiple results, and possibly unintended effects. For instance, cutting employees to save money while maintaining the same amount of production could lead to more overtime or outsourcing, which can be costly enough to cancel out the savings envisioned.

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3. Ability to prioritize

Many leaders begin their year by making a checklist with key goals-the big-picture ones which are best accomplished in small increments at each time. But, the most important goals tend to be swept aside by more pressing “fires” which need to be spelled out regularly. They have to balance long-term goals with demands and requirements for the short-term and never lose the view of what is truly essential.
This skill requires a lot of planning, time management , and patience. Even the most skilled leaders aren’t able to do this done at times.

4. Keep Self-Aware

Although situational awareness is a requirement for leaders to have an knowledge of what’s happening within their organization, self-awareness is the ability of leaders to recognize their own motives and emotions.

Being aware of their own behavior helps managers keep their internal biases at bay. They can also make better choices, while adjusting their actions to the context.

A leader whose main motivation is to gain the respect and respect of the people around him or her will have a hard time making difficult decisions unless he recognizes this behavior and controls it. A leader who is motivated primarily by money might make choices which cause them to lose respect, or breach the ethical code.

5. Personal Integrity

A leader who is not honest will not be able to maintain respect, trust and support of the people whom cooperation is vital. Integrity is the quality of a person who is ethical, honest and trustworthy. Some of the indicators of integrity are:

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Honoring promises and keeping commitments
It is a behavior that is consistent with values consistently expressed to others
Accepting responsibility for the actions and decisions of one’s self

An absence of integrity in the leadership can have negative effects on individual leaders as well as the entire organization. Research conducted by the Center for Creative Leadership found those with integrity were more likely to have better careers and were more successful. However, in general, lack of integrity was prevalent in managers who had their careers ruined following an initial period of rapid progress.

These five skills aren’t inherent traits or abilities given to leaders after they have reached a certain point. Instead, they’re skills you can develop through education and work knowledge.

For a more detailed look at these skills and how organizations can support their leaders to develop their skills, read my new book Flexible leadership: Balancing the Multiple Choices and Challenges. Download a chapter preview for no cost now.



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