Agile Leadership: What It’s About and Why It’s of Importance

The sense of leadership might seem pretty clear. At the same time, though, leadership criteria change and evolve over time to match the changing business conditions and environment and deliver to modern companies’ ongoing needs.

A good leader is a team’s driving force and a reliable contributor to business growth and development. Today, it’s an agile leader since agility, flexibility, adaptivity, and resilience are the name of the modern business game.

What is agile leadership? How does it work? What does it offer to organizations? How to become an agile leader? Let’s look into the answers to these and other questions together.

Agile Leadership Basics

With its roots in agile software, agile leadership is a contemporary management style that popped up as a response to uncertainties and complexities modern organizations face daily.

While traditional companies rely on a static organizational model, a siloed department hierarchy, and linear planning, agile companies are rather dynamic systems meant to easily adapt to volatile and ambiguous business realia.

Agile organizations are less vulnerable to fast-paced alterations and some unexpected circumstances (such as pandemics) that expose ventures of all types to serious problems.

In the agile leadership formula, the word “agile” stands not only for speed and responsiveness but also for awareness, focus, and adaptivity. Meanwhile, “leadership” is rather about leading and guiding than controlling and governing.

As a result, this management style embraces the ability to:

  • Resist the pressure of problematic situations and difficulties;
  • Swiftly and efficiently react to unexpected alterations and business moves;
  • Eagerly consider alternative solutions;
  • Keep the team engaged and involved in the working process, whatever the circumstances.

Agile Leadership Principles

This leadership style is about placing people in the center of attention rather than prioritizing processes. Agile leaders are neither bossy nor pushy. They create teams with a focus on autonomy and freedom. By outlining the goals and objectives, they don’t restrict employee initiatives and help them reveal their problem-solving potential.

Internal business systems, organizational frameworks, and management approaches need to be modified for the companies to catch up with current business rules and succeed in a chameleonic business world. Thus, contemporary organizations widely shift from strict control and mentorship to communication and collaboration concepts in management.

Taking those general tendencies into account, agile leadership is built around 9 basic principles.

1. Development

The active leadership style is not only about assimilating the change but also about changing. In other words, development and positive transformations are not possible without actions. Agile leaders motivate employees by developing themselves. They are an example and inspiration to their teams, not a supervisor.

2. Progressive Thinking

Dynamic leaders are capable of analyzing the problem to let specialists from different areas ponder over it and generate different ideas and solutions. This allows for prioritizing the issues and providing sufficient time to think them over.

3. Learning

Agile leaders learn from their colleagues and employees. They welcome feedback, suggestions, and shared experience. At the same time, they take time to respond and show that they care and respect their colleagues’ efforts.

4. Inspiration

To realize changes and move to success, team members should have a clear understanding of the purpose. An agile leader will unify the team around a goal they need to achieve and get employees hooked by detecting their values and converting their interests into action.

5. Engagement

To make people involved in work and committed to results, agile leaders give them an emotional impetus by encouraging and inspiring them. By being open and accessible to their workers, such leaders make them feel confident and meaningful and help them unleash their creative potential to the full.

6. Unification

Agile leadership is not bound to titles and positions. Traditionally, companies tend to appoint high performers to leading positions. However, the idea behind this management style is that a leader should be able to quickly match the changes, make quick decisions, be open to innovation, and be communicative.

So, people with appropriate qualities could be promoted to become leaders, and they will make their teams thrive in turn.

7. Empowerment

Steering away from strict governance and monitoring, agile leaders recognize the necessity for providing opportunities to their employees to make them feel valued and enabled. Not only does this help build relations of trust but also it stimulates the team members to work with effort and diligence.

8. Collaborative Work

Teamwork brings better results in a faster manner. The role of an agile leader is to create a group of fellow thinkers and set up a healthy working environment inside the group to encourage development and ensure engagement.

At the same time, though, an agile leader provides a certain degree of autonomy to a workgroup within their function. This fosters dedication to the goal and striving for success.

9. Innovation

Innovation and game-changing solutions enabling improvement can come from anywhere. Hence, agile leaders are open to ideas from anyone in the company. They listen to everyone, no matter the status, to accumulate info and choose the best options and suggestions.

Agile Leadership Benefits

Becoming a new operational standard, agile leadership can change the way you do business, bringing the company management to a different quality level. Sometimes, you don’t feel like changing and are forced to change to stay on top of your business growth and development.

Here are several advantages the agile leadership style will offer to your business:

  • Increased communication: Open themselves, agile leaders foster communicative culture across the company to boost productivity and ensure better working transparency;
  • Enhanced employee motivation: By getting more freedom and autonomy, employees feel more motivated to efficiently complete the task and treat their work with more commitment and responsibility;
  • Upgrading problem-solving skills: Motivated, encouraged, and inspired employees eagerly articulate their thoughts and ideas and share their insights with the team and other colleagues. They naturally generate solutions, recommendations, and instructions;
  • Consistent leeway for improvement: Inspiration and freedom in decision-making drives creativity and innovation, which drive improvement and upscale in their turn. Agile teams are open to experiments to apply non-standard approaches and methods to find the most efficient solutions.

Agile Leadership Characteristics

There are 5 major features or skills that characterize an agile leader and make them confidently stand out:

  1. Situational vision: Dynamic leaders know how the company works from within and how its operations and effectiveness can be impacted by external and internal circumstances, situations, and events. They also understand how those will affect employees’ performance;
  2. Operational mindset: Understanding how things influence one another in organizations helps active leaders envisage the outcomes of certain actions and the consequences they might have at different levels;
  3. Prioritizing skill: An efficient agile leader is a perfect planner capable of setting long-term goals and defining short-term objectives to achieve them. Balancing between immediate business needs and requests with an eye on bigger results is a difficult task not all managers can embrace;
  4. Self-awareness: Good leaders should be able to read the emotions and behaviors of others, yet, never lose themselves in that. It’s vital for a leader to know their own motives, inspirations, and challenges to keep the ability to stay unprejudiced and adapt to different situations;
  5. Individual integrity: Being unable to live up to their promises, show consistent behavior patterns, and stay responsible for their actions, a leader will fail to gain the trust and loyalty of colleagues. Personal integrity is crucial both for an individual leader’s career and for the performance of a whole organization.

So, an efficient agile leader

  • is democratic, caring, empathetic, responsive, and communicative;
  • can balance multiple choices, alternatives, challenges, and issues;
  • motivates and guides their team to tackle situations and generate solutions;
  • fosters the culture of self-organizing teams capable of functioning both autonomously and in collab with other teams;
  • keeps an eye on the bigger picture while perfectly planning intermediate tasks.

Summing Up

Agile leadership steps away from traditional approaches and methods of leadership and gravitates to a more democratic style of management that breaks the barriers between team members and a leader to set up a relationship of trust and mutual support.

Based on a new way of thinking, it’s a next-generation leadership concept aimed at helping companies quickly accommodate changes and smoothly head to success through innovation and improvement while keeping employee potential and adaptivity high.