The Future is Agile. What Agile leadership means to me.


 Let us start with the C-word. Collaboration. Or should I say c-words; connectors, communicators and coaches are what is needed to lead us through the increasingly diverse organisations and dynamic times which lie ahead.

At this stage we can expect to spend at least some of our working lives doing jobs we have never done before. Some of these jobs do not exist yet. The rise of digital is transforming our workplace and there is no going back.

So what is involved in being agile, softening the impact of automation, and building capabilities to thrive in the future of work? People skills. Big time.

The #1 priority for talent development in 2018 is training for soft skills. Command and control manager led teams are out, and collaborative, self-organised teams are in.

‘Workers of the future will spend more time on activities that machines are less capable of, such as managing people, applying expertise, and communicating with others. The skills and capabilities required will also shift, requiring more social and emotional skills and more advanced cognitive capabilities, such as logical reasoning and creativity.’ McKinsey & Company

Here’s what Agile Leadership means to me

Collaboration: Collaborative leadership means everyone is on an equal footing and working together to solve a problem, create something new, or facilitate an initiative.

Innovation rarely happens in a vacuum. Better outcomes always come from everyone having an opportunity to contribute. Brainstorming and the synergy effect which brainstorming sessions bring gives us better ideas.

Coaching: Coaching is the process of moving from where you are to where you want to be. Coaching leadership helps build a more productive relationship between the company and its employees. It also creates better relationships between employees and customers.

Connectors: In his best-selling book The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell used the term “Connector” to describe people who link people, ideas, and resources from diverse social and business worlds. In successful businesses, connectors are critical facilitators of collaboration.

People who are connectors are the glue. They are the influencers and early adopters and when their passion aligns with your purpose they will help create trends, insights and build awesome relationships. Connectors are powerful career drivers for the Future of Work.

Connections: With regard to connections, I cannot stress the importance of nurturing healthy relationships. Whatever we do, we are people dealing with people.

Communicators: Without effective communication there can be misunderstanding, frustration or even disaster and nobody wants that. As leaders, it is our job to adapt to accommodate the communication styles of those around us.

Having a tool kit of communication styles to encourage effective dialogue and conflict resolution comes from having a deeper understanding of ourselves and our impact on others.

When we think about it, the more effectively our people can communicate the more impact they will make with their products and services and the more they will want to work with our organisations.

Clarity: Clarity makes comprehension easier because it demands the use of simple language that is easy to interpret. We cannot expect others to be clear about our message if we are unclear ourselves.

Clarity is critical in business communication, where messages are continuously conveyed across different media styles to diverse groups.

Curiosity: Curiosity makes your mind active, keen and observant and open to new ideas. This feels exciting.

Creativity: Creativity makes life interesting. Creativity is not just for artistic pursuits, it is for everyone. Today’s world calls for creative leaders. Being creative stimulates lateral thinking and drives innovation. I like to think of it as helping build the imagination economy.

Continuous improvement: We often think innovation is about big ideas that are transformative and game changing. But often it is the cumulative impact of lots of little changes that add up to make a big difference.

The benefit of smaller scale innovations are huge – not only do they happen more quickly with less fuss, they pave the way for bigger projects to follow.

Clean-up: Sometimes we make mistakes and not everything we try works out as intended. Never mind that. It just means we are human. There will always be opportunities to learn and if we are fearful of making mistakes we will never be innovators.

At IMNZ we will shortly be delivering the first of our Agile Leadership Programmes. We are working with Erika Barden, a thought leader in Agile Leadership.

Erika will be delivering her first Agile Leadership programme with IMNZ on the 10th of May in Wellington and the 29th of May in Auckland. Conducted over two days the programme will cover Agile Leadership as a framework for project delivery and success.

Erika says Agile is an attitude as much as an approach. I like the sound of that.

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