Five Rad Tips For Agile Leadership

In this post, I offer five radical tips for improving leadership agility. These tips come from my new book, Future-Ready Leadership: Strategies for the Fourth Industrial Revolution published by Praeger

I think these tips are "rad" because they provide leaders with a language and tools for talking about dealing with the pace of change around them. The speed of everything at work is increasing. Computers crunch data faster than they did last year, employees want to learn and get promoted faster, and customers want more features and lower prices than they did a year ago. This means that leaders and organizations need to be more agile.

And, yes, some of these tips were inspired when I was long boarding, jet skiing, and snow skiing--hence the cover picture. You can learn a lot about agility when you are engaged in activities that require balance and speed. 

"Agile" is a term to describe leadership characteristics and behaviors, not just a software development methodology. Agile is a mindset that future-ready leaders have. It's a culture that future-ready organizations exhibit in their ability to make decisions, act, and get results. 


Here are five rad tips for improving your leadership agility from Chapter 2 of my book. 

  1. Master Direction: No one can predict the future, so "directing" others in the age of uncertainty is futile. That said, followers still have a need for a sense of direction--are we going North or East? Help your followers with direction by listening to their ideas, creating a shared vision with them, and anchoring your organization's activities to your purpose--your "why" and reason for existing.
  2. Monitor, Modify, and Maintain Speed: I call these the three M's of agile leadership. Speed control is a radical concept. It's easy to get caught up in the "faster is better" mindset, but you have to know when to modulate and modify your speed when leading an agile organization. This is where being a competent change leader comes in. Have the right kind of meetings. Set clear priorities. And get rid of stuff that doesn't work. Changing direction or "pivoting" requires slowing down. If you forget to slow down from time to time, you might crash and burn.
  3. Know Thy Self: Agility requires a self-aware leader and a self-aware leadership team. Future-Ready Leadership has more than 25 original tools and assessments to help build individual and team self-awareness. One of my favorites is called the "High-Velocity Leadership Self-Assessment." This assessment and scoring guide will help you and your team to align on your agility strengths and weaknesses. 
  4. Know Thy Organization: Agile leaders go to where the action is. They spend time with customers, employees, and constituents. They build relationships, trust, and get a sense of how vision and behavioral expectations are translating to the "real work." My "High-Velocity Organizational Readiness Assessment" in the book provides leaders with a guide for determining their organizations' readiness for agile change.
  5. Accelerate: Once you've mastered the art of setting direction in the age of uncertainty, the 3Ms of agile leadership, and you've determined your readiness (self, team, and organization), step on the gas! Remember, breaks to slow, gears to go. Jam on it! Speed is necessary for stability whether you're on a skateboard, a jet ski, a bicycle, or riding the next wave of innovation. Rip it! 

If you're interested in getting the leaders in your organization future-ready, check out my new book: Future-Ready Leadership: Strategies for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. This book has more than 25 original assessments, tools, and templates for leaders, HR professionals, and coaches.

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Chris Groscurth, Ph.D.

Chris Groscurth, Ph.D., is author of Future-Ready Leadership: Strategies for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. For the past 20 years he has worked as a researcher and strategic advisor to leaders across healthcare, finance, manufacturing, government and education. In addition to his consulting work, Chris addresses thousands of leaders annually through speaking engagements and workshops. Throughout his career, he has held leadership positions with Gallup, the University of Michigan, and Trinity Health. Chris currently leads Stryker's global learning design and development team, shaping the future of leadership in a high-growth medical technology company. Chris received his doctorate in human communication processes from the University of Georgia and has bachelor's and master's degrees in human communication studies from Western Michigan University.

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