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What Does It Mean To Be An Agile Leader?

Expert Panel, Forbes Coaches Council

Forbes Source:

In the modern business world, many leaders emphasize the importance of being "agile." Borrowed from the software world's concept of agile development, this management style requires a leader to be flexible, adaptable and fast in their decision-making.

What does it take to put agile leadership into practice? We asked a panel of Forbes Coaches Council members to share what agility means to them as leaders, and why it's such an important quality to cultivate. Their best answers are below.

1. Being Present To Gain Insights

Be agile by being more present. While being strategic is critical to success, it is just as important, if not more, to lead effectively in the present moment. Being present creates greater awareness in addressing the right challenges facing your team. Listen deeply and ask powerful questions to gain insights and makes the right decision to help your organization move forward through every problem. - Alan Trivedi, MBA PCC, Trivedi Coaching & Consulting Group

2. Inspiring Creativity And Innovation In Your Employees

Agile is both a way of working and a way of being. To foster an agile culture in an organization, it's not enough to establish methods of automation and develop a cadence of project planning and review so work is constantly improved upon. Leaders must inspire creativity and innovation within employees so that, as the organization propels forward, employees are directly contributing. - Lizabeth Czepiel, Lizabeth Czepiel, LLC

3. Moving Quickly

Agile means to be able to move fast. Speed is essential to business success. The company that moves faster to solve a problem, create a product or respond to a need will be the business that wins. Agility is often more available when actions are led by aspiration. When everyone knows what they are working toward, then people become more creative to accomplish the vision. - Ken Gosnell, CEO Experience

4. Adapting To Any Situation As It Happens

Being agile means you are able to quickly adapt to situations as they come along. Every day brings new challenges to leaders, and you cannot always rely on what worked yesterday to solve tomorrow's problems. Leaders should always use their experience as a tool but not rely on it solely to solve problems. - LaKesha Womack, Womack Consulting Group

5. Having The Flexibility To Take Quick But Sure Actions

Leaders should be agile in their decision making and actions. Leaders who can look at the big picture, break it down into smaller chunks, then execute are simply more productive than those who don't share this flexibility. By implementing smaller portions of the plan, one can easily determine where adjustments should be made to prevent resource drains and develop more efficient systems. - Niquenya Collins, Building Bridges Consulting

6. Being Resilient And Creative

Agility is a sign that someone is flexible, open to change and to growth. Companies need to be adaptable and flexible in their approach to maintaining competitiveness. Agile leaders don't get stuck in what change means to them and their ego; instead, they take pride in being resilient and creative in their approach. - Jean Ali Muhlbauer, The Muhlbauer Companies, LLC

7. Navigating New Waters And Charting New Successes

Agile leaders use their intuition to read the room, the person in front of them and the people who energize their quest for a great workplace experience. They know their assets for leadership and implement them daily. They ask defining questions and listen actively to determine the next priority. Agile leaders communicate and motivate as they navigate new waters to chart new successes. - Gayle Draper, Intentional Careers and Human Resources

8. Continuously Learning And Embodying A Growth Mindset

Agile leaders are those who can adapt to an ever-changing and uncertain environment. When you set out to be a continuous learner and have a growth mindset, you are always looking for ways to improve your product, your services and yourself as a manager and leader. Learning from every opportunity prepares you to handle whatever happens and makes you an excellent role model for others. - Christine Allen, Ph.D, Insight Business Works

9. Embracing Change By Driving Value

Agile leaders thrive in the face of uncertainty and rapid change. They do this by creating an environment where stakeholders push change forward by driving adoption through frequent, incremental changes that constantly produce value. - Laura Berger, Berdeo Group

10. Letting Go Of What Doesn't Work

Being agile means being willing to quickly let go of what is not working and try something else. As I was taught, the problem with our beliefs is we tend to believe them. Once accepted, beliefs can become a reality that is hard to alter. Agile leaders constantly challenge their beliefs and assumptions so they can meet the needs of the moment versus clinging to a cause that is perhaps already lost. - Gary Bradt, Bradt Leadership, Inc.

11. Listening, Learning And Adapting

We live in a world where leaders are expected to be consistent, firm and resolute. However, we also live in a fast-paced and chaotic environment with few constants. Leaders who are firm may appear strong, but they often fail to adapt. The ability to listen, learn and adapt one's position is a valuable skill that requires vulnerability, confidence and psychological safety. Agile leaders get this. - Jim Vaselopulos, Rafti Advisors, Inc.

12. Connecting The Dots

Agility isn't an excuse for chaos, continual pivoting without strategy or indecision on your team. In tech development, it's a defined approach. In leadership, agility implies a desire for speed, commitment to change, the capability to iterate and communication skills to navigate ambiguity while remaining connected daily. It promotes connecting the dots and operating as one. - Joanne Markow, GreenMason

13. Shifting Your Management Style To Match Your Employees

There are many ways in business to be agile, but one of the most powerful ways is demonstrating agility with your employees. People like to be communicated with and recognized differently. It is never one-size-fits-all. Show how much you value your team's contribution by understanding and being what they need. Productivity and engagement will benefit tremendously. - Lesha Reese, Lesha Reese, LLC

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