When we think of special forces teams in the military, we often think of agile teams ready to quickly address issues to ensure a successful mission. However, these highly trained units typically include cross-functional experts and no officers. These teams make on-the-ground decisions to adapt and evolve as circumstances dictate. The development of employees who have multiple skill sets, similar to individuals in special forces, is critical for success in a workplace rife with change and turmoil.
We define agility in Leadership is Upside Down as the capacity to read changing conditions in our environment and the ability to adjust to them rapidly. Success in today’s business environment, where product lifecycles now last months rather than years, depends on developing high levels of agility in our people. An agile team will accomplish more in a shorter time frame because its members see opportunities and create plans, constantly adapting as needed.1
HOW DO WE DEVELOP AGILITY IN OUR PEOPLE?
To develop agility, we must first step back and look at what influences agility. The ability to think fast and make decisions on the fly is nothing new, but we need a fundamental shift to truly address how to develop high levels of agility.
Intuition, or the gut feelings we experience, often leads us to make better decisions. Honing our intuitive abilities will also increase our agility, as we will be able to plan and re-prioritise as new realities arise. Developing agility reduces costs, increases profitability and increases customer satisfaction and loyalty. We can encourage an entrepreneurial spirit and promote a “fail quickly and try again” mindset.2
So, how do we build intuition to improve agility? Consider incorporating these tips:
Cultivate the art of being spontaneous. Learn to live a little and go with the moment. Wear funky socks, take a new way to work or leave your phone behind and go on a hike.
Pay attention to your inner voice. You usually won’t steer yourself wrong. Instead of squashing this voice, learn to help it grow.
Take your hunches into account. Have a feeling about someone, or a business deal? Give yourself some time to consider it.
Learn to meditate. Meditation can contribute to positive psychology. A leader is only as strong as the parts making them up, so creating a strong, healthy brain is essential.
Keep your gut clean. A healthy gut is the first step to maintaining a healthier brain. Learn more about the interactions between your brain and gut by reading: “The Neurobiology of Intuition-Becoming an Agile Leader”.
THE FUTURE OF LEADERSHIP IN A ROBOTIC WORLD
Uncertainty can be mind-numbing--literally! Understanding the natural reactions our brain has to uncertainty and the fight-or-flight response can help us to combat these reflexes. Our brains have an enormous capacity to change, and knowing our brains are capable should give us confidence that we can lead people through their (and our own) inherent resistance to change.
Perhaps the biggest test of change in the future of leadership and world will be artificial intelligence. Despite what people fear, a report by ManpowerGroup found many employers feel automation will actually increase the number of jobs, although some positions are safer than others. Leaders who can quickly adapt to these new technologies will forge the future of leadership. People with certain skill sets will be increasingly in demand, while those who refuse to embrace new methods will experience stagnating wages and job insecurity.3
“There’s a never-ending ocean of techniques out there.”
The key to remaining agile in a workforce shared with AI is to become a lifelong learner. It’s more than what we know in the Imagination Age; we must also consider what we can learn.
Having the proper mindset to embrace growth and change will increase engagement, improving agility and how we interact with others (including robots!). We should expect to transition to other roles as the situation demands, and people who can successfully do so will lead the way into a new era of work.4
Leaders who wish to stay relevant in today’s workplace must increase agility, and you can explore how the brain can grow and transform to meet these challenges in the film, Make Me A Leader.
While it can be difficult to stifle fear and the sense of being afraid of such rapid changes, we can learn how to reset our brains to welcome new experiences, instead of freezing or even running away from them.
The i4 Neuroleader Model can help you improve the elements underlying agility if you are serious about your personal development. Unlocking agility in ourselves and our teams is a great way to create a culture of excitement, one that is inclusive and open to new possibilities.
1. Damiano S, Cubeiro JC, de Haas T. Leadership is Upside Down: The i4 Neuroleader Revolution. About my Brain Institute. 2014.
2. McLennan K. Building Leaders for the Imagination Age: The Case for the i4 Neuroleader Model. About my Brain Institute. 2016;1.
3. Skills Revolution 2.0. Robots Need Not Apply: Human Solutions for the Skills Revolution, US Data Edition. ManpowerGroup. 2018.
4. Hobson M. Human Skills & Technical Know-How for the Future of Work. International Youth Foundation. 2018.