- Dr. Sheen Akkara
Amazon’s Founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos in a recent interview declared that it had achieved ‘an interesting milestone’. The online retailing giant, ubiquitously associated with books, music, and video, now has more than 20 million products in stock, a majority of which are nonmedia goods. Amazon’s transformation from an online bookstore to a retailer as well as a business services provider showcases, how one of the world’s original internet bonanzas have evolved and created a success story time and again. A major contributor to this has been Bezos’s ability to lead his business to adapt its offering to suit its customer ever-changing requirements. Amazon has been counted among the most innovative companies year after year. While its technology and product offerings certainly contribute to this, a key factor in Amazon’s success is its founder and CEO – Jeff Bezos’s agile leadership.
Almost every other day, new technology is unveiled, giving way to unprecedented shifts and disruptions in the market, that prove to be challenging for businesses. Given this rapid pace of technological transformation, especially within the Indian financial sector, agile leadership is being emphasized by industry experts to allow businesses to evolve and succeed.
As per Global Leadership Forecast 2018 by Development Dimensions International (DDI) and Ernst & Young (EY) states that team led by an agile leadership help companies to be better prepared to anticipate trends, respond to competitive forces and adjust to changing customer needs. This calls for those at the helm to strategically tweak their leadership style allowing greater flexibility and adaptability to enable their organizations to navigate and respond to emerging demands and opportunities.
So why is agility such an important quality to cultivate? For one, it is leadership for the future while staring at the present in its face!
Adapting and Moving Quickly
Speed is essential to business success and agility is the ability to move and adapt fast. The faster an organization responds to a problem, a need and adapts to business curveballs, the higher the chances of its survival and success. This includes its leadership being aware of global trends, its impact on the industry as well as the challenges that lay within the landscape, thus allowing for quick decision making and actions that give necessary thrust to the business.
Gaining Insights from the Present Moment
Agile leaders are known to lead their teams in the present moment. They are those who can look at the big picture, are flexible to break it down into smaller chunks and execute. They also demonstrate the ability to mould their management style to maximize the team’s productivity. They observe keenly, listen deeply, ask frequent questions to gain insights to help meet organisational goals.
Agile leadership can inspire employees to be creative and innovative. They engage and re-engage with their teams to incorporate necessary changes in the way work gets done. They focus on the needs of others, acknowledging their perspectives, support them to meet their work and personal goals, involving them in decisions where appropriate, while building a sense of community within teams. The result is higher engagement, greater trust, and stronger relationships with team members.
They are also able to perceive and educate their team about current market conditions and inspire them to be more open to new ideas and innovations. Agility is also led by aspiration, when everyone knows what they are working towards, then employees become more creative to accomplish the vision.
Being flexible, open to change and growth is essential for businesses to maintain competitiveness. A leader’s resilience and adaptability towards their approach is the need of the hour in today’s dynamic business landscape. Agile leaders are also intuitive, communicate and motivate as they navigate new waters to chart new successes. They can thrive in the face of change and uncertainty by driving progressive changes in order to create business value for all stakeholders.
Listening, Learning and Adapting
The world today is fast-paced and chaotic with only a few constants. While the firm may appear strong, a certain degree of versatility and malleability makes for strength that can withstand storms of time. This is key for agile leadership. The ability to listen, learn and adapt is a valuable skill that requires vulnerability and confidence. An agile leader is forever learning, be it through seniors, peers, and even their juniors. They also have an open mind to analyse different perspectives to gain real insight. This can mean questioning some of their own assumptions and expertise.
Looking at the bigger picture, the success of leadership lies in its ability to manage teams by inculcating a strong sense of ownership and promoting ‘entrepreneurial’ qualities in the team. Building closely-knit teams that function like family by being supportive and collaborative on the collective goal of the organization is of utmost importance. With a contextual setting for business constantly changing, carefully crafted strategies and a nurturing environment where people feel supported and enthused to learn will be mutually beneficial to the business and employees. This in today’s business scenarios, becomes a leader’s most important responsibility.
The author is Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) at CMS Info Systems. Views expressed are the author’s personal.