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The Defining Features and Traits of an Agile Leader
“Leadership is a way of thinking, a way of acting, and most importantly, a way of communicating” – Simon Sinek
Regardless of the business background you are coming from, it is likely that you have heard of Agile. It is a term that’s used liberally in professional circles, to describe the ideal leadership model, one that puts collaboration, connection, creativity, tolerance and inclusivity at the forefront of organizational practices. It is also used to describe the ideal modus operandi for enterprises, the world over.
The former opinion is what we will be discussing in this article, since this perspective closely aligns with the Agile leader, as a model for executives and managers everywhere.
7 Defining Traits of an Agile Leader
To that end, following are the distinct traits that really make a leader Agile and effective, as proven over time.
Agile leaders who are also learners, have the ability to innovate by forming their own strategies which are free of ‘tried and tested’ methodologies. This means that an Agile leader will be found challenging the established methods and status quo outright, if their approach allows them to bring the new experiences and way of thinking, and mold it all into success. Additionally, Agile leaders have a knack for seeing things from multiple angles. This allows them to gauge the feasibility of a concept, as well as foresee all the potential pitfalls, in order to then avoid them actively.
Calm under Fire
This ability of the Agile leader is possibly the most well-known among the rest. It is also one of the trademark abilities that define a great leader, separating them from those who are quick to blame others when under stress, both due to internal and external factors. The Agile leader will adapt to any situation, and tackle the issue through an intelligent, strategic approach. In fact, their adaptive capabilities allow them to more than just persevere through adversity.
They are able to turn the hurdles they face, into learning opportunities, which further increase their ability to blaze their own unique trail.
One of the trademark qualities of an Agile leader is the knack for risk-taking, especially for the purpose of expansion and progress. While general problem-solving and some measure of organizational change also requires risk, the Agile leader is able to accomplish this with ease. It is during the major decisions that the daredevil nature of the Agile leader shines through!
It may seem unwise, but make no mistake, the risks are never taken without thorough calculation and premeditation, and it is the agility of the leader’s thought process, which allows for such quick and seemingly risky decisions.
Consumption of Criticism
Criticism is one of the most valuable assets for an Agile leader, since, for them, it is a treasure trove of knowledge and instruction which can then be used to improve their own leadership, and achieve or even surpass business goals.
Defensiveness and unnecessary aggression in terms of protecting their opinions and/or decisions is a crystal-clear sign of a weak mindset; a mindset which should never be in a leadership position. Agile leadership, fortunately, is the antithesis of such a mindset, and instead of defending an opinion, takes in constructive criticism in order to gauge the audience personas, and encompass them into all future decisions.
Feedback as Fuel
For the quintessential Agile leader, internal and external feedback is a resource just as important as finances. This is because their entire strategy is built the optimal approach towards success, of which feedback is a major part. What separates an Agile leader from a good leader though, it the ability to gain feedback both directly and through silent observation. What customers and colleagues are saying, as well as the general internal attitude towards a process, are both precious feedback which the Agile leader transforms into informed decisions and bottom line progress.
A good general trusts in his ability to lead his soldiers, but a great general empowers his soldiers with his own acquired knowledge and strategic prowess, along with better weapons, allowing them to make superior decisions on their own. The latter approach harnesses the strategic capacity of several minds instead of just one, and in the long run, yields better results for the team.
Needless to say, the latter is the Agile approach, which permanently increases teams’ ability to produce results. Even better, this is mostly an upwards trajectory, for as long as the Agile leader is in place.
Strength of Character
Organizational agility leads to benefits in the long and short term. This is positive for each and every member of the enterprise, regardless of their position. The Agile leader, at the head of the enterprise, is faced with all the individuals mentioned, which basically means that they are the symbol which the rest will aspire towards. As romantic as that sounds, it is absolutely true, especially when external stimuli can quickly dampen a weak character.
Integrity, honesty, positive energy and intelligence are all necessary for modern leadership, and are cornerstones of Agility.
If you too are looking to instill Agile leadership principles in yourself, Agile project management training is for you. Whether you are the founder of a startup, trying to get your company off the ground, or a candidate for a leadership position, or even an established leader looking to become better at your responsibilities, you can definitely benefit from Agile project management training.