Leadership development and agility

June 6, 2018 by Wally Bock

Leadership development is changing to catch up with the changes in the world and the workplaces. One of the buzzwords of the day is “agility.” That sounds good, even if we don’t seem to have clear and consistent agreement on what agility is, why it’s good or how it’s different. Many pundits are content to say that agility is good, without bothering to actually define it.

The Agile Business Consortium has a working definition of agile business that we can use to discuss agile leadership development. Here’s what they say.

“Business Agility is the ability of an organisation to: Adapt quickly to market changes – internally and externally; Respond rapidly and flexibly to customer demands; adapt and lead change in a productive and cost-effective way without compromising quality.”

Sounds good. The problem is that if you want to adapt quickly and respond rapidly, you may have to change the way you do business.

Leadership development and agility

You can say that you want agile leadership development, but until and unless you change some things you do, that will be just hope. Julie Winkle Giulioni gets to the heart of the matter in her excellent article, “Three Break-Through Practices for Agile L&D.” Here’s the money quote.

“It turns out that ‘agile’ flies in the face of many time-tested and well-accepted practices that have become familiar parts of the learning function. As a result, it might be time for learning professionals to let go of old best practices in favor of better break-through practices that facilitate more flexible and nimble responses to changing business conditions and needs.”

Julie’s article describes three practices that should change. That’s part of the challenge. The bigger challenge is that leadership development pros must change. We must be willing to give up control, and that’s a very, very hard thing for human beings to do.

Wally Bock is a coach, a writer and President of Three Star Leadership.

Posted in Leadership Development

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