Leadership agility

Prasad Prabhakaran

I’m sure it’s a testing time for all businesses. How to ensure that priorities are correct and current strategies are still relevant to the context and fit with new ways of working. Having said that, this is a great opportunity to reflect, unlearn and be more agile.

One of the critical factors that influences a business’ agility is the way senior Leadership think, understand, identify and validate hidden assumptions in the key strategies that drive the organisation forward.
Most leaders understand the importance of agility, but few actually prioritise the development of this crucial skill.
A global survey and study conducted by a respected UK publication, The Economist came up with two findings especially worth noting:

‘While environmental turbulence makes it more difficult to compete and grow profits, companies with higher levels of agility have a distinct competitive advantage that leads to higher profitability.’

The study also found that organizational “resilience”, a related adaptive capacity, which correlates highly with agility, contributes significantly to business performance in turbulent environments. Resilience, as defined in this study, refers to an organization’s ability to resist, absorb, and respond to highly disruptive changes.

In an increasingly unpredictable world, one thing we can confidently predict is that the pace of change will be faster next year and even faster the year after. Agility is not simply about speeding up in response to rapid change. Whether applied to organisations, teams or individual leaders, it is the ability to take sustained effective action amid conditions of accelerating change and mounting complexity.

From our experience, one of the biggest barriers to increased agility is on the Leadership culture. We have repeatedly seen that businesses whose leaders operate at higher levels of agility are more agile as organisations.
Leadership agility is the ability to take ‘reflective action’ – to step back from one’s current focus, gain a broader, deeper perspective, and then refocus and take action that is informed by this larger perspective.

As leaders become more agile, their capacity for stepping back deepens and broadens, and the frequency with which they move through cycles of reflection and action increases. Agile leadership, then, is not just another tool for a manager’s tool kit. It is a core capacity, a ‘meta-competency’, if you will, that affects how leaders deploy all their other competencies.

How do we help our Leaders with this ‘meta-competence’? The core is to have a Leadership culture that embrace new ways of thinking – continuous reflection of riskiest assumptions in the strategies and the plan. Based on our research and experience, Red Team Thinking provides a structured approach to Leadership with the techniques that enable ‘Leadership agility’.
Bryce G. Hoffman, in his Book on *Red Team Thinking explains:

“Red Team Thinking gives individuals and organizations the tools they need to create winning strategies and make better decisions in today’s complex and rapidly changing world. Based on powerful techniques developed by the military and intelligence agencies, Red Team Thinking will help you and your team challenge your assumptions, pressure-test your plans, identify hidden threats, and uncover missed opportunities.”

Red teaming is a systematic way of making critical and contrarian thinking part of the strategic planning process of any organisation- core to Leadership agility. It provides a robust set of tools designed to challenge your assumptions, expose hidden threats, identify missed opportunities and stress-test plans and strategies.

Holley Holland has partnered with Red Team Thinking to help Leaders to gain their Leadership agility – ability to take “reflective action” – to step back from one’s current focus, gain a broader, deeper perspective, then refocus and take action that is informed by this larger perspective.

Contact us to know more about Leadership agility – Ways of Thinking and Ways of Working.

*Red teaming is a system developed by the U.S. military and intelligence agencies to make critical and contrarian thinking part of an organization’s strategic planning process. In 2015, Hoffman became the first civilian to graduate from the U.S. Army’s Red Team Leader Program at the University of Foreign Military and Cultural Studies at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.