How to improve leader agility

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According to new research by Development Dimensions International (DDI), the benefits of having agile leaders include shorter times to high performance among new leaders, faster company growth and improved financial performance.

However, the research has also shown that just 18% of leaders are high in agility.

Because of the importance of having agile leaders within today’s organizations, DDI have outlined precisely what makes an agile leader: the capability to meet VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) challenges, and critical skills.

The capability to meet VUCA challenges involves:
  • Anticipating and reacting to the nature and speed of change
  • Acting decisively without always having clear direction and certainty
  • Navigating through complexity, chaos and confusion
  • Maintaining effectiveness despite constant surprises and a lack of predictability
The critical skills that are required alongside these capabilities are:
  • Communicating and interacting with others
  • Managing and successfully introducing change
  • Inspiring others toward a challenging future vision
  • Fostering employee creativity and innovation
DDI also outlined some key tips for employers looking to improve their existing leaders’ agility.
  1. If agility is key to the future of your company, hire and promote leaders high in agility. Several validated assessment tools are available to help you do this. The term “learning agility” has come into vogue. A strong learning orientation is crucial to leadership agility, but it is more complex than a single factor.
  2. Avoid the agility mismatch; claiming to be agile but failing to back it up with decisive action and rapid decisions will push your most agility-capable leaders elsewhere.
  3. HR often plays a role in organisational design and process efficiency. While the term “reengineering” seems to have died, the tenet behind it is relevant. Simplify complex processes by reducing nonvalue-added steps and layers of approval. This capability, often found in people with organisation development (OD) skills, can have a big impact on your company’s agility.
  4. Some agility skills can be learned. One is learning how to introduce and manage constant change. Make sure your leaders are “change masters”.

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