Agile leadership: How agile are you?

Marianne Slotboom
Dec 16, 2021

As it comes to Tech companies, the old-fashioned style of top-down leadership is way out of sight. Agility is the main course for inspirational leadership that maximizes your team’s potential and make them stay. After all, we are talking about leading autonomous, cross-functional teams of professionals.

What makes you an agile leader?

Agile Leaders are inclusive, democratic leaders who exhibit a greater openness to ideas and innovations. They have a passion for learning and focus on developing people and inspiring others. In general, they are a reference for change and progress.

Which are the important skills that agile leaders possess?

Based on a review of the literature and the latest research, we can define the following skills and characteristics that are important for agile leadership.

1.  Communicating vision

Agile leaders have the ability to define and communicate a strong, desired vision. They communicate the WHY of the team’s contributions in the light of the organizational mission and objectives. They possess the capacity to be the compass for successful change.

2.  Building the team

Agile leaders know how to increase mutual trust among team members, to foster knowledge sharing and productive collaboration. They manage differences in a constructive way and make diversity within the team to their advantage by fostering listening skills and exploring new ideas with curiosity.

3.  Developing people

Agile leaders focus on the needs of others. They acknowledge other people’s perspectives, give them the care they need to meet their work and personal goals, involve them in decisions where appropriate and help them grow. This leads to higher engagement, more perspective, and stronger relationships with team members and other stakeholders.

 4.  Stimulating innovation

Agile leaders challenge the status quo. Theydon't do this just to be difficult, however--they have their own original ideas and ways of doing things. They are not afraid of creating new experiences and take risks, which provides a broader perspective and a bigger knowledge base.

5. Outperforming through challenges

Learning from experience occurs most often when overcoming an unfamiliar challenge. Agile leaders – despite the difficulties they might encounter - remain present and engaged, handle the stress brought on by ambiguity, and adapt quickly in order to perform. They observe and process data, and have the ability to acquire new skills to tackle the situation. This type of leader doesn't only seek new experiences but also learns from them.

Soft skills for Tech

6. Reflecting on experience through feedback.

A major aspect of being learning agile is to continually seek feedback and process it. Leaders who take in feedback will have more insight into their own shortcomings and blind spots. Some investigations found (Flaum and Winkler, 2017) that self-awareness was found to be "the single highest predictor of success across C-suite roles".

7. Taking good risks.

Agile leaders are pioneering risk-takers. They venture into unknown territory and put themselves 'out there' to try new things. No thrill-seeking, but progressive risks, that lead to opportunities. They volunteer for jobs and roles where success is not guaranteed, where failure is a possibility. They stretch themselves outside their comfort zones and accept that failure is part of the game.

Marianne Slotboom
The author
Marianne Slotboom

Marianne is a strategic partner and practical developer of human behavior that helps leaders, teams and organizations become more focused and effective, elevating their value to customers. In 2015, Marianne founded Yellow Training to answer the call for more inspirational and creative leadership in the modern workplace.

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