Being “Agile” in your leadership style can directly translate to agility in your business or corporation. History is littered with very successful companies with leadership that did not adapt to changing conditions in the marketplace. The last Blockbuster store in the world is in Oregon. Think of the thousands of stores that existed just a couple of decades ago! Blockbuster and its leadership were not agile enough to recognize and change with the advent of streaming video.
Here are some ideas to help you adapt your leadership style to be more Agile.
1. Look to the Military
The United State Armed Forces are a great resource to learn about how to adopt agility in your company and leadership style. Too often military doctrine was mired in dogma in past conflicts. A great example is in WW II with the Army Air Corps and the daylight bombing campaign in Europe. The thinking at the time was that a heavily armed bomber aircraft could get through anything to bomb its target. These “Flying Fortresses” grouped together in formations and flew at high altitudes until reaching their targets. Unfortunately, the Axis powers had other ideas and shot down many of these bombers with fighters and Ground to Air weapons. Thousands of American lives were lost and hundreds of airplanes until the dogma that the bomber by itself would always get through was scrapped.
Today’s military is much more agile. Military thinking has adopted a cycle of Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act (the OODA loop) that allows it to rapidly respond to sudden external threats. The same principles can be applied in your organization to respond to market threats with greater agility.
2. Read, Research and then Read Some More
Leaders often bemoan “I don’t know what I don’t know.” Close that gap by spending time reading and researching every day what is happening in your business sector and market. Devote team members to this or build a task force to analyze market factors on a routine basis. Know what is going to bite you and your company next. Another old saying – “forwarned is forarmed.”
3. Gaming Can Help
Again, the military can teach you lessons on gaming. Military campaigns are gamed over and over again with starting assumptions changed about the enemy, unexpected threats identified, and analyzing the likeliness of certain key events and outcomes. You can game in the same way for your business
• What are your assumptions about your competitors?
• What are your current capabilities?
• What threats are there in the market for the next 6 months/year?
• What are the wildcards out there? (Think major technology changes)
• What is my goal(s).
• What is the likeliness of identified threats affecting my strategic plan?
• What is the least risky course of action?
• What is the most likely course of action?
4. Set the Agility Culture and Lead by Example
The enemy of agility is risk aversion. Another enemy is “We have always done it this way” (Dogma). Examine your corporate culture and take a good look in the mirror. Do you see any of these enemies? Setting a culture where innovation is rewarded, initiative is encouraged, and mistakes are not career ending will help your organization achieve the agility you want.
5. Speed is important, but “Slow is Smooth, Smooth is Fast”
In keeping with our military theme today, being agile does not mean making changes at warp speed. Think back to the OODA loop. Often, being deliberately slow with change will keep the “troops” from being spooked and allow the organization to assimilate the change you want smoother. If you have a great plan in mind to change to a culture of agility, keep it smooth and you will be amazed at the speed your company can adapt.
Being agile in both your leadership and company culture will keep you from going the way of Blockbuster. Thinking about these agility ideas as the leader in your company and executing them well, is a sure recipe for success, growth, business longevity and an incredibly agile company.
In LX Council, we consistently talk about leadership ideas and strategies. Being around the table with other business leaders, listening to their concerns and challenges, along with solutions and best practices can help you take your business and leadership skills to the next level.
Our business leader members regularly bring powerful ideas to share in our meetings, including but not limited to: best practices, business processes, employment practices, as well as useful productivity tools and apps. If you’re ready to take your business and leadership skills to the next level, and if you think your business could benefit from more insights like what’s offered in this article, let’s start a conversation. LXCouncil may be the perfect next step!
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