The Agile Leader is the second book from Cirrus CEO Dr Simon Hayward. In the week before its launch, Simon considers why agile leadership has become so important.
One thing that we can be absolutely sure about in our uncertain world is that it’s impossible to predict the future. Technology is driving change at an unprecedented rate.
Agility has become a highly-prized leadership asset. Agile leaders can develop agile teams that in turn create agile businesses, able to adapt quickly to the ever-changing competitive conditions in our VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world. Agile businesses tend to be innovative, customer centred, and focused on achieving goals.
The VUCA world and the pace of technology are pushing us towards more agile ways of working. Technology, and what we do with it, is changing the way we behave. It has altered the way we collaborate and communicate with our colleagues and customers. The explosion of internet connectivity also raises questions about who, or what, is in control. For business leaders, many of whom want to feel ‘in control’, this can be quite a challenge. We need to create new ways of working that reflect the changing world outside and inside our organisations and enable us to respond to unexpected opportunities or challenges with speed and accuracy.
The danger of complacency
Even if you feel your business is stable and successful, it’s possible that someone may come along, disrupt your industry, and turn your world upside-down. In recent times we’ve witnessed the downfall of seemingly unassailable global leaders such as Kodak and BlackBerry, who simply weren’t agile enough to spot the threats to their businesses, or to react to these threats with innovations of their own.
In this fast-moving world, leaders need to learn to create an environment for our organisations to embrace uncertainty and flourish by changing how we operate. For some this may mean continual, incremental change in response to competitive forces. For others, it may demand wholesale reinvention.
The case for agile leadership
What great leaders do has changed. There is widespread agreement that being agile helps you to react more swiftly and decisively. There are opportunities around today we couldn’t have imagined in the past. Agility enables us to embrace these opportunities. It helps us to innovate, to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances, and to stay ahead of the competition. And what leader doesn’t want to do that?