According to research from Oxford Economics, if companies want to win in the digital economy they must streamline decision making and flatten their organisational structure (oxfordeconomics.com/publication/open/267392). Companies that prepare themselves for the digital economy by transforming their leadership modus operandi can not only achieve improved financial performance, but can also help develop the next generation of business leaders from within their own organisation. One of the most effective ways of improving your organisation is to adopt an agile leadership approach to business.
While business agile leadership seems to be the buzzword of the year, not all businesses are prepared for the change or understand the changes necessary to ensure agile leadership works for their company. If you are considering adopting an agile leadership approach to business within your company, following are 10 factors you should consider to substantially increase your odds of success.
1) Effective communication is critical for top-performing teams. Leaders must provide a frame of reference when organising and distributing project assignments if effective results are to be achieved. Agile leaders understand that the success of their teams is due in large part to cogent coaching throughout the process. You can’t expect team members to perform to the best of their abilities if they are being micro-managed or given incomplete information from the start.
2) Agile leaders improve their processes based on current learning. They value the lessons they learn throughout their careers and integrate new information into their leadership processes. Gone are the days of “we’ve always done it this way”. If a leader hopes to build a nimble organisation that can compete against incumbents and newcomers, they must be willing to hone their leadership approach over time.
3) Transparency is crucial for effective agile leadership in business. Team members must be able to trust the authority of their leaders and understand the processes by which decisions are made. If you are attempting to build an agile organisation that can grow significantly to achieve maximum market share, it is imperative you lead by example and offer complete transparency to your team. Anything less severely influences the effectiveness of your leadership.
4) Effective agile leaders understand the impact employee experience has on successful teams. You can’t expect your teams to perform at optimal levels if their work isn’t acknowledged/appreciated and if their overall experience with your organisation is less than satisfactory. Anything from employee benefit packages to open/closed office structures can influence employee satisfaction. If your company’s top priority is to build an agile organisation, understanding the key components of employee satisfaction and morale is key.
5) Conflict within an organisation is not necessarily a bad thing. Agile leaders understand the importance of open discussions within a team framework and ensure all team members feel their voices are being heard. It is through open discussions that breakthroughs are discovered and new developments can be integrated into existing (and future) projects. The old hierarchy ways will no longer work. Employees who feel they must ‘know their place’ aren’t going to be willing to speak up and contribute to group discussions. If you want to ensure your organisation thrives, help your employees to understand the value of their discussion contributions, even when those discussions involve heated debates.
6) Community is a core concept of effective agile leadership. Your role is not only to lead your organisation, but to instil a sense of self-leadership and community growth within your team. Employees who understand the value of presence within your community are more likely to make a concerted effort to ensure your entire community flourishes. Learn to foster a sense of community among your team and you will be amazed at the accomplishments your company can achieve.
7) If you want your team to flourish within an agile environment, it is crucial for you to not dictate how objectives are to be achieved. Agile leaders help their teams understand end goals and the reasoning for those goals, but they give their team members the ability to develop their own processes and procedures to achieve the desired objectives. Close-minded ‘my way or the highway’ management styles will not work if you truly want an agile atmosphere to flourish within your organisation. If you are doing nothing more than paying lip-service to agile leadership goals, your true character will shine through if you don’t allow your employees the opportunity to achieve end results in their own way.
8) One of the fastest ways to ensure your attempt at agile leadership fails is to do nothing to improve company culture. If employees work in a toxic culture or one that is less than supportive to all team members regardless of their job description, your attempts at agile leadership are doomed from the start. Company culture transitions can take time and may be met with disagreement, but for your organisation to flourish in an open and honest framework, you must ensure company culture is focused on lifting all team members up in an equal manner.
9) Powerlessness will kill an agile work environment. Employees who feel powerless to contribute to projects or discussions can quickly turn toxic. Your attempts at openness and inclusiveness will mean nothing if employees who feel a distinct lack of power start to corrupt your work environment. By building a framework that ensures equal power across your teams, you increase the odds your commitment to an agile workplace will succeed.
10) A pledge to ongoing development and improved customer progress is key in agile leadership. Not only must the customer journey process be improved based upon feedback, so too must the development of your team charged with customer success. It is only through the enhanced maturation of your team that your customer happiness results will improve and amplify over time.
A commitment to agile leadership is not to be taken lightly. Too many organisations attempt to adopt an agile mentality without doing the necessary work to change integral parts of their company’s structure and procedural framework. You can’t expect agile leadership to work for your business if you aren’t willing to take a long, hard look at everything from human resources on-boarding to management infrastructure. Integrate the above-listed agile leadership tips into your organisation and you stand a much better chance of achieving the results you desire.