How powerful is your “pivot and flex”? Can you shift gears and make critical decisions when the unexpected leaves other leaders in a state of paralysis?
Your agility as a leader is paramount to meeting the future well.
How do you develop this ability so you can anticipate and get ahead?
David had risen through the ranks of Parkside Products’ early days. Having served as CEO for more than 10 years, he expanded the company’s footprint to represent in all 50 states. Because of his leadership, the business world recognized Parkside for quality and value.
Then, crisis hit.
And Parkside wasn’t ready.
COVID conditions slowed production significantly. And although David was heartened on one hand that they were still able to operate, he was extremely worried about fulfilling commitments.
Unless David could approach the business differently, Parkside would go under.
“I’ve thought for some time that I should brush up on how I lead this company,” David shared with me. “And I’m sorry it took such a crisis for me to act on it by calling you for help. What can I do?”
“David, you aren’t alone,” I said. “And you are right – it’s time to act.”
“Where do I begin?” David asked. “There is no end to good information and advice from experts in my industry. It’s that I’m not sure who to listen to, or how to plot the course. I’ve never led in a crisis.”
“It begins with your mindset,” I responded. “And you have an open one. That’s what it takes to step into new and more complex situations.”
Over the day, David and I worked together to assess how he approached decision-making and taking action on critical matters. I noted that he had good self-awareness on several fronts, but that he didn’t realize that, when he convened his team, he tended to dominate the space. As a result, his talented team was not speaking up. This meant that they were missing out on serious brainstorming and the sharing of new ideas.
“David,” I shared later, “we need to develop your self-awareness about how you make space for the team to contribute ideas and participate in decision-making.”
I went on to explain what I had seen, and he received the feedback well. This was just the first step, however. Here are the three steps we worked on to develop greater agility in David’s leadership:
Key Steps in Developing Leadership Agility
In order to develop the ability to meet today’s complexity, a leader must first recognize his or her growth opportunities. This is not always easy to identify, and outside observation or a targeted assessment is often helpful.
Experimenting with new behaviors
Once the leader has identified where he/she can benefit from greater agility, new behaviors to support this must be identified and put to practice. Careful monitoring on a regular basis to assess the effectiveness of these behaviors is necessary.
As the leader practices the new behaviors that will support greater agility, seeking feedback to see what’s working helps to fast-track success. Seeking this from one’s executive team or with the people one works with most, will be highly effective.
Where could greater agility serve you as leader?
- Is it in learning how to bring people along to meet the vision?
- Does it create a shift in the way you make decisions, so they are even more effective?
I challenge you to seek feedback from those closest to you and to consider making the changes that will allow you to meet the future, now.
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Patti Cotton helps executives optimize their effectiveness in leading self, others, and the enterprise. Her areas of focus include confidence, leadership style, executive presence, effective communication, succession planning, and masterful execution. With over 25 years of leadership experience, both stateside and abroad, Patti works with individuals, teams, and organizations across industries, providing executive consulting, leadership development, succession planning, change management, and conflict resolution. She is also an experienced Fortune 500 speaker. For more information on how Patti Cotton can help you and your organization, click here.