Agility: A Key Element That Spells Success


“Speed, agility, and responsiveness are the keys to future business success,” Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop noted years ago.


The message couldn’t be truer today. In 2021, agility is at the top of many a busy executive’s priority list. Savvy leaders know that having a Plan A, B, and C is essential. What practical steps can busy executives take today to promote this key element in their leadership success strategy?


What Agility Is…And Isn’t

According to the Agile Business Consortium, agility is defined by these four hallmarks:

1. Adapting quickly to changes in the market—both internally and externally

2. Responding to customer needs in a rapid and flexible manner

3. Leading change with an eye on both cost-effectiveness and high quality

4. Maintaining a strong competitive advantage


In a world that was turned upside down by COVID-19 and which is just starting to resume some semblance of normalcy, business leaders continue to strive to increase the agility of their teams. Executive leadership coaching helps CEOs and other leaders to succeed by increasing their agility first.


The term agility is often confused with efficiency. The two are not the same, however. While agility is defined by the four keys above, being efficient is about cutting back and making do with less. Dictionary.com defines efficiency in part as: “The ratio of the useful work performed by a machine or in a process to the total energy expended or heat taken in.”


The difference is that you’re leading people, not machines. Efficiency, while important in many ways, doesn’t capitalize on the unique gifts and talents that your team offers. And creating a culture dependent on efficiency means that creativity, innovation, and potentially more successful ways of doing things aren’t even considered.


“Success today requires the agility and drive to constantly rethink, reinvigorate, react, and reinvent.” –Bill Gates, Cofounder of Microsoft


Strengthening Your Agility Muscles

One obvious sign of a good leader is consistency. However, sometimes overly extended, and stressed executives fall into the trap of being too rigid in their approach. This can quickly lead to a “this is the way we’ve always done it,” mindset, squashing agility flat.


So, how can leaders strengthen their agility muscles in a new way without undoing the hard work they’ve done to date?


The answer is two-fold: first, go slowly and assess your results. Secondly, always be working on the areas where you are weaker. This article in Harvard Business Review points out the importance of complementing both sides of the agility/consistency coin.


If you’ve ever worked with a personal trainer, you know that the first step is an assessment of your current physical fitness level. From there, the trainer gives you exercises to perform to balance out your strong and weak areas.


It’s the same with consistency and agility. You want to keep the strong work ethic, focus, and drive you currently have while exploring opportunities to be more agile and think outside the box more frequently. Doing so will position you to exceed as a leader and maximize the ROI in your business.


Agility is a Marathon

If there is one thing the pandemic taught business leaders, it’s the importance of agility. Going forward, use the lessons taught to increase your company’s agile focus. Create an environment of flexibility, encouraging team members to strengthen these muscles right alongside you. Always remember that this—like so many key elements in business—is a marathon, not a sprint.

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Would your team describe you as an agile leader? If you want to strengthen these skills and be better able to respond to changes in the future of your business, why not get in touch with us today? A complimentary introductory call could be just what’s needed to make a significant improvement in your business.

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