Business always changes. Today, we live in the Information Age, surrounded by massive technological advances. Who knows what business will look like soon?
Company leaders who want to thrive for a long time should embrace and adapt to change. Some leadership styles apply those, and one currently on the rise is agile leadership.
What is agility, and why is it important for entrepreneurs? Read more to learn more about it, along with the basics of demonstrating agility.
What is Agile Leadership?
Merriam-Webster defined “agile” as the quality of “having a quick, resourceful and adaptable character,” which is what this leadership style advocates. It’s a practical skill that encourages creative adaptation to change and empowers the team through distributed responsibility. Besides putting customers on the highest priority, an agile leader understands the company system dynamics on the side and becomes part of it.
Agile leadership drives business agility, another concept that embraces changes flexibly. Fluctuating customer demands and market situations today, for instance, bring many uncertainties. Companies employ business agility and tackle those conditions by considering their options to reach decisions and act fast.
This doesn’t mean agile companies don’t favour stability. Business agility is also about finding a balance between that and dynamics. While it’s important to be agile when faced with change, it’s also not a bad idea to sit back, re-evaluate, and scale the company’s current practices. Agile organisations can be both dynamic and stable.
Why Is Agile Leadership Important in Business?
As an entrepreneur who leads your company and becomes the person your employees look up to, your leadership style influences. With various types of leadership out there, agile leadership is among the most commonly adopted by business owners. It’s a journey that significantly revamps the corporate culture but is also tricky to sustain because the mindset must be rooted deep in the culture.
Managing a business means being ready to step out of your comfort zone and face uncertainties. Moreover, a brand flourishes in the hands of people who genuinely care and work together for it.
Agile business leaders realise all these situations and work to build agile management with a non-hierarchical network. This type of organisational structure comes with fewer management layers, bringing more benefits when paired with agile leadership:
Improved Inclusive Culture
Every member of your company comes with different qualifications. Regardless of your business size, promoting an inclusive culture where everyone feels they belong and is appreciated is crucial. It doesn’t tolerate indifference and disrespect.
By enforcing this work environment, you also set an example for your employees to apply the same principles. You can’t work alone in creating a positive agile workplace culture! (Foster an even more positive startup culture with our curated tips.)
Everyone works together to build the characteristics cherished by agile organisations. It includes questioning the status quo, acknowledging mistakes, and fixing those mistakes.
Employees who don’t have any voice in a company feel disempowered. When they feel this way, they’re less involved and probably only come to the company to do their job and go home again. There’s no contribution or growth for them, you, and the company.
Agile organisations work against this because empowered employees bring so much value to the company. Its non-hierarchical structure reduces the chain of command and approval, putting employees on the same level. The communications are pretty straightforward and speed up decision-making. Employees gain authority and responsibility for their work, encouraging creativity and productivity.
Heightened Critical Thinking Ability
As an agile leader, you constantly observe the surrounding situation to be prepared for changes and risks. Over time, this affects critical thinking skills because you’re challenged to anticipate crises with sound solutions. It’s even more important because people rely on your decisions and judgments.
Your openness to new ideas and possibilities is also one of many qualities of agile leaders. However, you’re still realistic when accepting feedback because not everything works. Your problem-solving ability is also tested here because you’ll consider many aspects. There’s a system of evaluation to adjust the ideas to fit your business ideals.
How Can an Entrepreneur Demonstrate Agile Leadership?
Big companies like Cisco, LEGO, and FitBit have adopted this leadership style. This proves that even large-scale businesses can thrive with agile practices. If you decide to adopt this leadership style for your business, here are some basics to bear in mind:
Empowered employees are one key benefit of agile leadership. It won’t happen when you dictate to your employees and tell them how to do their job.
Micromanaging is still a massive issue at work. A survey in this Forbes article points out that micromanagement hampered 71% of respondents’ job performance and led to 69% contemplating resignation.
Regardless of their status and experience, hiring somebody to support your brand means you trust their qualifications and skills. However, it doesn’t mean that you abandon and leave them on their own. Agile leaders help others realise and prioritise their obligations, guiding them and providing support.
Encourage Feedback Exchange
Because you trust your employees to finish their tasks on time, encourage them to find the most efficient methods and workflow. In a way, you encourage them to think critically and make decisions that impact the result of their tasks.
From this, obtain feedback from time to time to keep up with their progress and find room for improvement. Their thoughts are essential information in agile companies. Someone’s growth can show how different they are today from two months ago.
Be prepared for negative feedback, and don’t punish them for voicing such thoughts. Consider opportunities to improve, and appreciate them for bringing it to your attention.
Open to Necessary Adjustments
Acknowledging and accepting feedback isn’t the end; it’s time to decide what to do with the new information.
Remember: agile leaders embrace change and don’t feel threatened. Even when it means questioning the status quo and addressing the flaw, don’t back out and stick with the familiars.
Find the root problems and fix them right there promptly. Don’t be pressured to complete them as quickly as possible. Putting considerable time, effort, and budget into those adjustments generates more effective results anyway.
Facilitate the Space
To grow a plant, you need to find a space for a plant to grow, right? It’s also the same for business.
You already have people taking care of the brand. Whether physical or online business, it’s your duty to provide an atmosphere for everyone to collaborate, learn, and interact. Stability’s still there because everyone comes to that space for work, and dynamics happen because they still have room to “wiggle.”
Ensure your space also gives employees some degree of emotional comfort. Everyone’s day is different, but work goes on, and someone has to be there. Instead of monitoring their mobility hour by hour, focus on facilitating an ideal space where employees can still thrive in what they’re doing.
As mentioned before, agile leadership is tricky to sustain. Changes can be harsh, and adjusting oneself doesn’t always guarantee positive outcomes.
Practising resilience in business is crucial, especially in the entrepreneurial world. Startups grow fast, and no one can predict what happens next. Instead of fearing it, embrace and be resilient toward changes that you consider beneficial for your success.
Don’t forget to step back once in a while to recharge and re-evaluate current progress. Being agile doesn’t mean to keep running! Agile leaders navigate their pace flexibly whenever needed. They don’t have all the answers, but they feel prepared.
Adopting a particular leadership style means focusing on specific characteristics and qualities. Agile leadership, for instance, celebrates being resourceful and adaptable in every situation. It’s a component that drives business agility, a concept where a brand navigates flexibly between stability and dynamics.
Agile organisations reap lots of benefits because of such practices. It’s one of the most commonly adopted leadership styles but also among the trickiest to sustain. If you decide to go with it, expect an improved inclusive culture over time. Other perks include empowered employees and heightened critical thinking skills.
To demonstrate agile leadership, focus on fundamental practices like minimising micromanaging and maximising feedback exchange. Be ready to create adjustments as needed while facilitating the safe space. During this entire process, be resilient and control your actions thoughtfully.