Leading in Uncertainty: Cultivating Agility

This quick reference tool provides tips for leaders on cultivating agility.

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The key to cultivating agility is to build engagement and resilience. Consider the following elements to strengthen both in your organization.

Engagement

  • Listening – To adapt to a rapidly changing environment and meet the needs of your teams and clients, you need to hear what they are telling you—and what they are not telling you.
    • Keep in mind
      • Active listening behaviours on your team will encourage engagement.
  • Autonomy – People need the space to make decisions and act quickly when opportunities arise. Autonomous proactive individuals enhance team agility.
  • Collaboration – Agile teams share knowledge, ideas and expertise. Promote doing the best work for the best outcome, rather than project ownership.
  • Clear communication – Communicating effectively in a challenging environment may require being more direct than usual. Do be considerate, but also be concise and use clear language to express proposals, opinions, feedback, action items and decisions.
  • Structure – Provide clear limits, guidelines, instructions, objectives and expectations. Let everyone know the parameters within which they have the latitude to experiment, take risks and make decisions.

Resilience

  • Ability to accept change and adapt – In unpredictable situations, it can be necessary to change course quickly.
    • Keep in mind
      • Each person's threshold for change and ability to adapt is different. Get to know the individuals on your teams and find out what they need to do their best work under the circumstances.
      • When circumstances change quickly, people need support and time to adjust. Listen, practise empathy, and be helpful.
      • In less-than-ideal circumstances, we all need to redefine what our "best" is. It may relate more to focus and effort than to outcomes.
  • Growth mindset – Adaptability means continually learning what's required when the circumstances, or our understanding of the circumstances, change. Encourage experimentation.
  • Risk tolerance – An agile work environment requires exploration and creativity, but experimentation necessarily involves failure. Early or rapid prototyping allows room for more failures on a small scale, building towards larger successes.

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