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'Agile Leadership': 13 Definitions Of A Successful Professional

Originally Published on Forbes

Written By: Expert Panel, Forbes Coaches Council

It’s hard to be a leader in the business world and not hear the buzzword “agile leadership” a time or two. But what does this industry term really mean for everyday business professionals? As a leader, do you possess agility in your decision-making skills, or are you agile in your ability to manage your team?

No matter your skill level or experience, being an agile leader can make a big difference in your flexibility as a manager, as well as your ability to adapt to the business world around you. To better define what “agile leadership” really means, we asked members of Forbes Coaches Council to share their definition of an agile leader and why it is an important goal professionals should strive for. Here’s what they had to say:

1. Flexibility And Stability In One

Pace of change in the market is as slow as it is going to get for the rest of our lives. For organizations to be successful in the disruptive environment, agile leadership needs to span across every department and industry. An agile leader is one that is flexible and stable at the same time—able to keep a steady eye on the intermediate goal and another eye on all the possible ways to get there. - Marina Cvetkovic, The Peak Alliance

2. Enhanced Self-Awareness

For cultures that have embraced "agile leadership," supporting leaders to serve teams, it is important to emphasize a leader's ability to be self-aware. To be able to serve the organization, a leader must be aware of the impact their skills, abilities and personality have on others. A leader needs self-awareness to communicate a vision and direction through complexity. - Cindy Stack, Whole-Life Leader

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3. Anchoring In The ‘Why’

All too often, we get anchored in "what" and "how." "We've always done it this way." Being an agile leader requires you to anchor in the "why." The "how" and "what" will change with new technologies, new competition, marketplace shifts. If they are your anchors, you will be slow to change. Anchor in the "why." If giving into that is what connects you, you will be able to shift "what" and "how" more quickly. - Brian Gorman, TransformingLives.Coach

4. A Variety Of Leadership Styles

I use the term "agile leadership" to mean a variety of leadership styles: a more directive or authoritarian style in some instances, a more facilitative style in others and a more coaching style, to name a few. We need a number of styles, and then the discernment to identify which style to use in which situation. - Lesly Higgins, Lesly Higgins

5. Collaborative Community Building

Agile leaders build high-trust, respectful communities with meaningful working relationships that they then empower to create balance between the organizational needs and their tensions. This results in the encouragement of development and learning, as well as the continuous flow of creativity. Collaborative communities can achieve much more than individuals can. - Peter Jansen, Radio Latino Inc

6. Thriving In The Chaos

Agile leaders have both the ability to create something out of nothing and to capitalize on opportunity arising from instability. In today's world, we have economic, geopolitical and environmental turbulence that leaders need to be able to maneuver successfully. Continuous learning, multigenerational/multicultural feedback and innovative problem-solving will allow leaders to stay ahead. - Lisa Rangel, Chameleon Resumes LLC

7. A Safe Environment For Educated Risks

Agile leaders promote cross-team collaboration and a culture that functions during times of ambiguity and still remains customer focused. The most important quality of an agile leader is their ability to promote a safe environment for taking educated risks through clarity of direction, transparency and role modeling appropriate behaviors. - Brad Federman, F&H Solutions Group

8. Continuously Editing Your Rule Book

Agile leaders know that using a "this is how we've always done it" approach doesn't enable them or their organization to succeed in our ever-changing marketplace. Be open to new approaches and flexible to other ways of thinking. Ask your team to present solutions, even if you think their ideas are crazy. The tried and true approach doesn't always work now. Be open to new solutions to thrive. - Loren Margolis, Training & Leadership Success LLC

9. Being Comfortable With Uncertainty

Agile leaders are comfortable with uncertainty and understand that creativity and resourcefulness are important to being agile. Successful leaders adapt their thinking, their organizations and their execution techniques to the situation they face. Agile leaders realize there will be times with high levels of ambiguity and that concrete answers or perfect solutions to challenges rarely emerge. - Jonathan Silk, Bridge 3 LLC

10. Preparing To Drive Change

Agility is the ability to flex and pivot with market or business climate changes. Demographics, technology and changes in the workforce require flexible leadership ready to shift strategies to compete. Keeping your eye on trends and the needs of your ideal target clients and team members can help you anticipate and prepare to drive change in your organization. - Jennifer Wilson, ConvergenceCoaching, LLC

11. Learning And Not Reacting

Agility should never be confused with reaction to the world around you. If you are purely reactive, you are letting other people dictate the terms of your success. Take care in creating feedback loops that allow you to learn from your customers, market conditions, competitors and your team. If you use those feedback loops to make informed decisions and change direction, you are an agile leader. - Jim Vaselopulos, Rafti Advisors, LLC

12. Purpose And People For Bold Results

Being an agile leader starts with clarity of purpose and a relentless focus on people and what they need to deliver bold results. It requires four commitments in how we lead: to be fully present in each interaction, to be an expert novice, to listen to learn and to care. These four habits create capacity for the situational intelligence we need to navigate ambiguity and complexity effectively. - Cyndee Blockinger Lake, Blank Page

13. A More Dynamic And Holistic Approach

Agile leadership is a more dynamic and holistic approach to leadership. This approach leads to richer results for your business and a lot more enjoyment along the way for you and your team. Considering employees' needs and desires personally and professionally helps them feel more invested, engaged, connected and happier. These qualities can lead to optimizing your business and goals too. - Rosie Guagliardo, InnerBrilliance Coaching

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