The evolution of digital technology and the increasing globalization of markets have driven change in the business world at an incredible pace. To survive and thrive, businesses need to adapt to these changing markets. Indeed, the most successful companies are those that rewrite the rules and innovate to meet the needs of consumers.
Over the past few years, “agility” has become an important buzzword in business, with leaders recognizing the need for both speed and adaptability. Some tips that could help improve agility among today’s business leaders include the following:
Learn to trust your intuition.
While great leaders need to be analytical and weigh the pros and cons of a decision, they also do not always have the time to spend on research and deep thought. When push comes to shove, they need to go with their intuition. Successful leaders hone their intuition over the course of their career, trusting their gut when it tells them that something is not right or they need to take quick action.
As a business leader, you may want to apply the 80/20 principle to your decision-making. This principle states that 80 percent of information is acquired in the first 20 percent of time dedicated to research. Spending more time on the issue is unlikely to uncover information that will change a decision. This principle explains why experienced leaders have such a good intuition. If they have been paying attention, they already have the information they need to make an informed decision.
Change your thinking to match the situation.
The best business leaders know that not every task requires the same consideration and response; they change how they think depending on the situation. Of course, changing approaches depends on having thought about responses to potential issues before they arise. This means taking the opportunity to step back for a second and think about the ideal approach rather than just rushing to respond using a stock framework that may not work for the situation. Leaders need to remember that they are least likely to change when they encounter a high-pressure situation, so it is important to do the work before a split-second decision is needed. In other words, agility is more about adequate preparation than people generally realize. The hard work happens before the crisis.
Understand individual thinking styles.
Just as the range of leadership styles varies, people can think in several different modalities. When we take the time to understand how we think, we can start to appreciate our specific strengths and weaknesses.
For example, analytical thinkers tend to be driven by logic and numbers, which means that they can fumble when they need to react quickly. On the other hand, practical thinkers, who are driven by tasks and organization, may not think enough about the potential consequences of a decision. Rarely does a leader fall into one category of thinking. As such, taking the time to critically consider how we process information can help us realize when we might encounter problems. This foresight can help us to avoid common pitfalls.
Continue to seek knowledge.
The best way to develop agility in business is to seek out new information and approaches continuously, which can help leaders establish ways to respond to an unexpected event quickly and effectively. Flexibility as a leader means looking at problems from different points of view and having conversations with individuals who have a different outlook on life and business. Simply by observing the people around them, we can learn a great deal about how to respond to a crisis situation. Family members, professional speakers, ministers, and even other people in the office can serve as role models for how to adapt. When questions arise, it is critical to ask them and pay attention to the answer to gain a deeper understanding of other’s positions and learn from them.
Build a trustworthy support team.
Leaders must understand that they are not alone when it comes to making a quick decision—when they need help, they should know exactly where to turn. In the office setting, leaders need to build teams that will complement their own strengths and weaknesses. For example, leaders who know that they are more relational than logical should find trustworthy people who have an analytical approach to life. Then, when a quick decision needs to be made, the leader can lean on these individuals to provide another look at the issue. Creating this type of support team helps to ensure that no critical point of view is overlooked, which, in turn, means that adaptive measures are more likely to succeed. Leaders who act on their own take on much more risk than those who have a team on which they rely.