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What Does It Mean to Be “Agile?”

Posted by Tasnim Ahmed

November 19, 2020

Businesses across local and global landscapes are increasingly adopting new technology and innovative models to function. With this continuous advancement, it’s crucial to act fast; to be "Agile."

“Agile” is a term used to describe the ideal leadership model, and “agile leadership” is about clarity, foresight, nurturing a collaborative work culture, responding quickly to new market changes, creating business goals, and planning strategically. People and organizations that are agile can handle alterations and the uncertainty of business, allowing them to pivot naturally when necessary.

Agility starts from the top of an organization. An agile mindset enables business leaders to more critically analyze situations, know which concept, idea or process isn’t working, adapt to changes, and even capitalize on failures. Agile leaders inspire the other members of the organization and help them reach their highest potential at work.

Listed below are a few traits of agile leaders.

Maintaining Clarity

Highs and lows, profits and losses, successes and failures, uncertainties and challenges are part of any business. In the face of complexity, an agile leader will have the mental clarity to distinguish when and how situations are fluctuating. They have the ability to arrive at a decision from their experience, and can apply their intelligence and prudence to solve problems and achieve growth.

An agile mindset means you are self-aware and understand your greatest strengths, fears and weaknesses, paired with constant reflection and awareness of market and customer needs. Through this, you're better positioned to identify risk and whether a change or innovation is necessary for the business to flourish. Clarity will help solve problems and inspire others to believe in a vision and work as a team to achieve it.

Believing in Growth

Agile leaders aren’t disappointed with failures and blunders. They typically have a positive attitude instead of viewing setbacks as dead-ends. It helps them learn, evolve and apply new strategies for business growth in the long term. This kind of mindset enhances innovation, creativity and productivity, helping entrepreneurs overcome roadblocks on their business journeys.

Collaborating with Others

Agile leaders possess the skills to adapt to circumstances that suit evolving business and customer expectations. They understand the needs and concerns of consumers and employees, and the value they bring to the business. In everyday situations, they can read and respond to each member of the team and relate to them. Their clarity of mind and emotional intelligence make them well-equipped to take risks and lead efficiently. They believe that by being active listeners and empowering others to find solutions, they can deliver results, perform their best during uncertainties, and build stronger relationships with stakeholders. Motivation plays a key role in their way of managing people, while fostering a positive workplace environment.

Practicing Flexibility

Leaders with an agile nature tend to make decisions promptly and without a second thought. This comes in handy when decisive actions are necessary. Sometimes, when you go through a decision, you need to pause, rethink and restrategize your plan of action. A leader with plans set in stone could face issues in today’s scenario when market dynamics change by the minute. So, to execute strategic plans, it’s necessary to keep a certain amount of flexibility in your execution. Every idea needs to be tweaked occasionally, or the business is at risk of failing in real-world situations. Thus, flexibility facilitates strategic execution.

Inspiring and Cultivating Creativity

A leader who wants to get the best out of their workforce will always keep tabs on how they feel, and react to the stimuli of work and the accompanying pressure. An agile leader will always encourage creativity among colleagues and inspire others by their own example. It’s no secret that fostering creativity among your workers will always result in benefits to you, your business or work environment. Many companies have initiated programs to encourage their people to come forward with ideas on how to better their work environments.

Taking Risks

Sometimes, risk is necessary to achieve greater results. However, do you jump headlong into every risk that is presented to take your case further? The answer should be a resounding “no.” Calculated risks should be the norm, wherein contingency plans are frequently discussed and implemented. As a leader who has their finger on the pulse of the market, at times you will not be able to escape a risky situation. However, planning ahead is the key.

Agility is the new norm in today’s business and industry world. However, it might have some drawbacks as it can be a little difficult at first to implement. Most agility plans will have to be implemented from end to end. You cannot follow certain processes in one part of your business and using archaic programs in another. There will be no cohesion among your departments, resulting in greater friction among the team.

You should also remember that the same formula doesn’t apply everywhere. You cannot just lift plans and processes from one project to another. To be a fully capable agile organization, you have to be agile from top to bottom. Agility across the organization can be achieved only when leaders have a growth mindset as well as an attitude of flexibility.


Tasnim Ahmed
Tasnim Ahmed

Tasnim Ahmed is a content writer at Escalon Business Services who enjoys writing on a multitude of subjects that include finops, peopleops, risk management, entrepreneurship, VC and startup culture. Based in Delhi NCR, she previously contributed to ANI, Qatar Tribune, Marhaba, Havas Worldwide, and curated content for top-notch brands in the PR sphere. On weekends, she loves to explore the city on a motorcycle and binge watch new OTT releases with a plateful of piping hot dumplings!

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