Typical methods for project management are very sequential. Follow one step and then the next and so on. This model is linear and straightforward for people to understand, and it’s fine to use when the user requirements and scope are fixed and everyone is on the same page. The booming software industry threw a wrench into this linear model, and now an agile method is required - one that can adjust to market conditions or a client’s needs immediately.
A VUCA world is one that is Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous. For businesses and leaders, this means technology is rapidly changing, consumer demand is all over the place, and economic conditions can go from icy cold to red hot in a matter of minutes. A leader without agility cannot hope to keep up when these situations exist.
Agile leaders must constantly assess and reassess what they are doing and determine if they have the skills required to meet the needs of the organisation. A modern workforce cannot be static and resistant, but instead should be flexible and ready to make changes.
“Learning agility means to learn, de-learn, and relearn all
Leaders who are agile are lifelong learners. The very notion of being agile means being able to quickly adjust the mindset to pursue a goal in a different manner, which often requires learning (or relearning) information. Individuals with high levels of agility are intelligent, spontaneous, and they don’t let the ego do all the talking.
FOUR WAYS TO INCREASE AGILITY
- Be more spontaneous. A brain on autopilot isn’t very engaged in the task at hand. While certain activities are fine for zoning out (think mowing the lawn or painting a wall), other activities need a brain ready to react and respond. Being spontaneous gives a leader the opportunity to listen to his or her intuition, which can be an invaluable asset.
- Increase your vocabulary. Imaging techniques can now show how the brain functions in real-time. A recent study found a positive correlation between intelligence and brain entropy, which defines how many different neural states a person’s brain can access. Higher entropy was linked to brains with higher intelligence in performance levels, including vocabulary.1 So, crack that dictionary and ameliorate your lexicon (improve your vocabulary).
- Be more aware of everything. Many leaders have no idea what goes on behind the scenes. As long as goals are met, some leaders don’t even care how tasks are completed. However, agile leaders must be aware of what is happening around them, and this includes being aware of their own mental state. So called “healthy” lifestyles are leaving leaders with brains that look diseased, resulting in decreased agility.
- Check your ego at the door. Doing something the same way over and over because you think it is the best method will eventually stifle agility and creativity. Being able to set aside the ego, and that sense of “I’m always right” will increase skills such as adaptability and innovation. If the leader is always doing all the talking, no one else can contribute new ideas and thoughts.
WHAT AGILITY CAN DO FOR AN ORGANISATION
Agility supports an entrepreneurial spirit and an environment that people like and trust more. People feel allowed to trust their instincts, and to be spontaneous and energetic. Increased agility can also positively impact the bottom line, as product development time decreases as innovation and agility increase. Workers who are happy translate into happy clients and customers.
Being more aware and stepping out of the limelight once in a while is key for agile leaders seeking to create an atmosphere of learning. Increasing the agility capacity of the brain is possible with an improved understanding of how the mind functions. An adaptable brain is a healthy brain, and a healthy brain is the foundation for effective leadership.
Saxe GN, Calderone D, Morales LJ. Brain entropy and human intelligence: A resting-state fMRI study. Stamatakis EA, ed. PLoS ONE. 2018;13(2):e0191582. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0191582.