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How To Develop The Characteristics of An Agile Leader

  • POSTED ON JULY 13, 2022
Agile Leadership

Most people agree that Albert Einstein was an agile thinker, philosopher, and genius, so we can give some weight to his words and thoughts. While not recognized as a towering business entrepreneur, Einstein understood life and logic and offered this sound advice that every agile leader should take to heart:

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.”

Of all the characteristics of an agile leader, learning from past experiences is a core characteristic. But where lies the difference between someone with some agile leadership characteristics and a truly agile leader?

Learning: The Core of Agile Leadership

We live in a rapidly evolving and growing world. The demand for reliable and inspiring, agile leadership is perhaps greater than ever; agile leaders consider this period in history as one of opportunity, not of overwhelming challenges. Perhaps the most inspiring component of leadership in this era is the recognition that team members are no longer seen as a single block called “followers” constantly in awe of the one “leader” of the organization or structure.

Now that team members are becoming actualized as crucial elements of a successful operation, agile leaders of today and tomorrow are challenged to not just acknowledge but also learn how to tap into the endless potential seething within their pool of talent for maximal results. Just as a conductor coordinates and integrates the individual talents of each member of the orchestra, so too does the agile leader looks to each team player to bring their best performance to the stage of business.

While the end result of an impressive and memorable performance earns the conductor praise, it requires the individual talents of the group working together to deliver such complex and cohesive work. The agile leader understands the necessity of maintaining enough control to keep the team functioning as a unit while relinquishing enough freedom for each player to perform at their own peak level.

And this points to the necessity of instilling the characteristics of an agile leader within each member of the team.

Developing Agile Team Players

A successful agile leader creates a culture where every team member develops the same agile leadership attributes within themselves, once more emphasizing learning as the core component of effective agile leadership. Neither is an agile leader threatened by the idea of helping every player develop their own agile leadership skills, finding the process motivating, and usually yielding new ideas, energy, and synergy to strengthen and encourage the entire team.

In such cases, agile leadership finds a deeper bond with and greater respect from each team member, with the team itself creating deeper roots and connections. There is something magical when a team learns to trust each individual player to bring their best to the table, with the end result of unexpected outcomes and shattered goals. While some of this “magic” will be attributed to agile leadership, respectfully and fairly spreading the success across the entire team is yet another one of those important characteristics of an agile leader.

The Co-Active Leadership Experience: Upping Your Agile Leadership Game

Top agile leaders across multiple industries are discovering the immeasurable value of participating in the Co-Active Leadership Experience, discovering immediate positive benefits and results from this three-day experiential workshop. Not only do you connect with the latest techniques designed to elevate the leadership and performance of every player on your team, but you will also be connecting with many other influential agility leaders where you often develop new and strong connections lasting beyond this experience, benefiting you personally and as an agile leader.

During the three-day workshop, you will be exposed to and immersed in each of the five dimensions that make up the Co-Active dimensional leadership model. This opens up the opportunity for you to discover your strengths and weaknesses in each arena, as well as obtain the tools and skills necessary to master each area and continue growing in every dimension of this valuable model.

Here is a brief introduction to each dimension you will encounter during the workshop:

Leader Within: Self-Acceptance and Self-Authority

We all recognize change begins inside ourselves, but it’s easy to forget this basic premise during the intensity of our regular workdays. Agile leadership starts with being a Leader Within: revisiting the basic truth that you are not broken (meaning there’s nothing to fix) and you are free to release your energy, imagination, creativity, and intelligence. In return, you find your world expanding and growing, finding fulfillment in more everyday experiences.

Leader in Front: Connection and Direction

Instead of taking firm control and hurling demands upon the masses, the Leader in Front first turns and faces the team, sharing their vision and inspiration. Once agreement and motivation are set in place, the Leader in Front then faces forward and leads the march towards success. This is the perfect opportunity to finally shed any last vestiges of that old, ineffective iron-fist management style and embrace a dimension that produces results.

Leader Behind: Serving and Coaching

An agile leader understands the satisfaction of being in the limelight, getting all the kudos and praise for their accomplishments. It is precisely for this reason that a successful agile leader committed to the success of the entire team also knows the importance of standing behind the scenes when appropriate, creating spotlights for other players to shine.

Leader Beside: Partnership and Synergy

In agile leadership, you need to know when to co-lead and collaborate with others. Leading an initiative with a partner has many benefits. You can count on each other to fully inspire the team with a clear vision, and together you can maintain the course. Leading in collaboration with another skilled leader is as energizing for the leadership team as it is for those you are leading. There is something special about being in the fray together with everyone else, all with sleeves rolled up and minds focused on the task at hand: it’s called synergy, and you can’t talk about it; you have to do it. As is often the case, during some of the most intense situations and challenges, you will be impressed at what your team members can and will deliver.

Leader in the Field: Intuition and Innovation

It’s not even possible to imagine an agile leadership oblivious to their surroundings or certain energy floating in the air. Intuition is often the catalyst that spearheads a new innovation, so agile leaders are encouraged to develop an increased awareness of their surroundings, the feelings and attitudes between people, and their own inner balance. Being able to create calm within a maelstrom is an enviable trait that your team members can learn to emulate once they see their own leader regularly practicing it and getting positive results. Most importantly, your own imagination, intuition, and insights rise gently and clearly to the surface, like bubbles of realization and inspiration, creating fertile grounds for new concepts, directions, and goals.

Agile leadership is a process, not a static state. Consequently, developing and honing positive characteristics of an agile leader is a way of being, not an item to tick off an “agile leadership success checklist.” How well do you know your leadership style? You can find out with this informative and revealing quiz.

Experiencing Co-Active Agile Leadership

The Co-Active Leadership Experience is an ideal and integral step in developing this way of living and working. Most attendees have seen major changes in their leadership style and their own fulfillment level, both personally and within their careers.

Can’t wait to get started? We don’t blame you, which is why we offer you this sneak peek chapter of the book Co-Active Leadership explaining Five Ways to Lead.

Another great agile mind, Stephen Hawking, also has an idea or two about learning and leadership, so here is an appropriate closing thought for all you agile leaders out there:

“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and what makes the universe exist. Be curious.”


What does agile leadership mean to you? Do you believe yourself to be an agile leader? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!
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Co-Active Training Institute (CTI)

Since 1992, CTI has been working with coaches and leaders around the world, helping them navigate toward stronger relationships, integral solutions, and creating meaningful impact in the world. The work we do goes beyond training. Through ground-breaking teaching methods and a global network of world-class faculty and partners, the Co-Active difference delivers contextually relevant and experiential learning that ignites transformation and a life-long journey developing the deepest expression of leadership in each human being.

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