The agile leadership paradox
What are the definitive traits of agile leaders? They are skilled at connecting people to perform better and also adept at disrupting the way people think, claims Simon Hayward. “So being an agile leader means being both an enabler and a disruptor at the same time,” he writes in this HR Magazine article. “This is the agile leadership paradox.” According to Hayward, enablers provide clarity of direction; build trust and show empathy; empower others; work together; and develop learning agility. “Agile leaders also need to help others embrace uncertainty and flourish by working in ways we hadn’t even heard of five years ago,” he writes. Disruptors do this by questioning the status quo; being bold and decisive; developing digital literacy; creating new ways of thinking; and staying close to customer trends. “For some this may mean incremental change in response to competitive forces,” he writes. “For others it may require wholesale reinvention.”
The race for an agile workforce speeds up
According to new HR research from the United Kingdom, organizations are under pressure to increase workforce agility to stay competitive. “The Race to an Agile Workforce” by Capita Resourcing found that an overwhelming majority (86 percent) of UK businesses believe they need to develop a fully agile workforce within two years to stay competitive. Without an established agile workforce within the next two years, nearly half (46 percent) of HR leaders surveyed said, the customer experience is likely to suffer. A similar number (43 percent) think they will face more difficulty attracting and recruiting high-quality talent into the organization, and three in 10 (31 percent) fear they will lose business to competitors and suffer financially. Most HR leaders quoted skills shortages (93 percent) and difficulties recruiting permanent staff (91 percent) as key drivers for a more agile workforce. “Workforce agility has been on the agenda for a number of years, but this research shows that the time for talking is over. Organizations are recognizing the need for bold thinking and fresh approaches to create a workforce that will enable them to compete in the coming years,” Geoff Smith, Executive Director at Capita Resourcing, told The Online Recruitment Resource. “There has to be a holistic approach—it’s simply not enough to skirt around the fringes with tactical measures such as flexible working policies or one-off investments in technology.”
Five tips to manage a flexible workforce
Innovative technology and an agile workforce mean an increasingly fluid working pattern, one that requires an effective flexible work policy. In this European CEO article, Sanj Mahal, CEO of AndCo, shares five tips to successfully manage a flexible workforce. 1. Identify suitable work locations and consider offering subscriptions to affordable co-working spaces. 2. Introduce clear policies for mobile device usage and expectations on email response times. 3. Track employees’ progress on specific tasks and projects with collaborative tools. 4. Establish a culture of support and trust by giving clear objectives and scheduling regular check-up meetings. 5. Use technology to support productivity and maintain contact with employees. “Being prepared and having the tools and policies in place to implement flexible working is important so that you can manage a growing number of workers away from the office, while maintaining a satisfied and efficient workforce,” Mahal concludes.
The valuable role of an agile coach
In this CIO article, Sarah K. White explains the valuable role that agile coaches play in organizational change by developing teams and facilitating the cultural change necessary for sustained agile success. “An agile coach will keep businesses on task while they embark on building internal agile development teams—which can help save time, money and resources. The coach serves as an objective party to help navigate common roadblocks and pain points in the adoption process,” she writes. Each company has diverse needs for agile adaptation, so there are three different types of agile coaches to serve their unique needs: technical coaches, process/management coaches and non-directive coaches. “Some businesses might want an agile coach with a strong technical background, while others might want someone who can get leadership to embrace the change. As businesses continue in their agile strategies, some will want to consult an agile coach for one-off issues or questions that arise,” White writes.
Building agile leaders
In this Business2Community blog post, Rick Lepsinger outlines the five competencies of agile leaders and how organizations can build these skills. 1. Develop situational awareness by using critical thinking skills and creating an extensive network of contacts. 2. Embrace systems thinking by acquiring a broad knowledge of the organization through experience in a variety of departments, functions and geographical locations. 3. Develop prioritization skills by balancing the urgency of tasks and goals with the resources at hand. 4. Develop and maintain self-awareness through a loop of feedback, self-assessments, coaching and practice. 5. Build personal integrity by demonstrating a set of attitudes and behaviors that enable others to trust a leader. “These tips and guidelines will be a deciding factor that separates great leadership from mediocrity,” Lepsinger writes.
Creating agile leaders the right way
“Agile leaders need to have a diverse array of both technical and soft skills, but leadership development programs are often stuck in old ideologies and methodologies,” writes Rick Lepsinger in this B2C post. In order to create leaders who can thrive in a modern setting, he suggests leadership development programs feature these key characteristics: Experiential learning; multiple types of learning content; content aligned to development needs; senior leaders who model effective leadership behaviors; faculty with a variety of skills, viewpoints and experiences; and portable lesson content that can be accessed anywhere. “To meet the demands of customers, it is imperative to have agile leaders who can balance people, processes, and innovation to keep the organization moving forward,” Lepsinger writes. “Developing leaders in your organization is a crucial part of ensuring continued success. Having strong leaders who can balance people, execution, and innovation can help people at all levels of your organization to succeed.”