Become an Agile Leader in the New Year

The upcoming start of a new year is the perfect time for self-reflection and to set goals for yourself as a leader. Make one of your 2024 resolutions to become an agile leader by promoting adaptability, experimentation, and autonomy at work. 

What is Agile Leadership? 

While many of the qualities of agile leaders resemble those of adaptive leaders, agile leadership is unique. BetterWorks describes it as a leadership style that allows for failing fast and equips employees to improve their productivity and effectiveness. Modeled after agile software development, this method identifies barriers early, requires consistent communication between leaders and their reports, and empowers employees as they independently work toward a common goal.  

There are nine principles of agile leadership, according to Agile Business Consortium. These continually evolving values offer a starting point for leaders who want to improve their agility, covering concepts from letting your actions speak for themselves to building a shared purpose, making work fulfilling through purpose, and delegating.  

Agile Leadership in Action 

So, what does agile leadership look like day-to-day? It’s flexible and allows room for change and redirection. Decisions can be made quickly, teams are encouraged to try new tactics, and employees are motivated to give their best at work because they understand the purpose. The goal and definition of success is clear. Your employees have autonomy to experiment with various methods to achieve the set goals.  

This picture of agile leadership in the workplace doesn’t happen overnight. While leaders must move quickly, they also must invest in building trust. Agile leadership alone won’t lead to company success, especially without buy-in from your own team.  

Agile leadership is more about adopted characteristics than a learned skill set. A medley of traits from several leadership styles, agile leadership requires leaders to correctly choose which traits to practice in each situation. Approaching a delicate circumstance with a heavy hand or attempting to coach employees to find the answer at a time when directives are needed may be harmful.  

Evaluate Your Leadership  

Asking questions is one way to assess your level of agile leadership and identify areas for improvement, as suggested by Agile42. Examine if people follow you because they want to or because they must, if others share their vision for work with you, and whether you’re creating a sense of community within your company. 

Evaluate if you practice these values. Do you tell employees it’s okay to try something new even if they fail, then punish those who do? Do you encourage collaboration then interrupt conversations to get people back to their desks? Pay close attention to your interactions and how others respond as those seemingly insignificant interactions could be pivotal moments for someone else.  

A key tenet of agile leadership is allowing the opportunity to fail, and that includes making mistakes yourself. Set the example by taking accountability for your shortcomings and use what you learn from failure to adapt your approach next time. Agile leadership is ever evolving and there is always another opportunity for learning and growth.  

How will you practice being an agile leader in the new year? Let us know in the comments section! 

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