“Agility” has become one of the hot buzzwords of the workplace today. As we settle in to a reality of rapid changes, continual uncertainty and new circumstances that have very little precedent and no clear-cut answers, everyone is feeling the pressure to adapt, to flex, to shift on a dime.
In many organizations, it’s the managers and emerging leaders who are on the front lines of this pressure. As Tom Davenport of Towers Watson put it, "Creating a resilient workplace that can deal with trauma and come out engaged on the other end is not a senior executive's role. It's a line manager's job."
Ultimately, managers are the ones responsible for bridging strategy and performance, for taking the organization from Point A to Point B faster and more effectively, even when it seems as though there’s always too much work and never enough time or resources to get it done.
A recent Forbes article describes agile leaders as those who can “handle any curve ball thrown their way. Leading through this new business environment requires the capability to sense and respond to changes in the business environment with actions that are focused, fast and flexible.”
The question is, are your managers up to the task? Between putting out fires and managing the daily workflow, getting people to bring their best thinking to work while optimizing communication time and managing relationships up, down and across the company, it takes a whole new level of intensity and skill to keep up.
Thinking is the catalyst for greater manager agility.
In essence, where agile managers outshine all the others is in their ability to successfully deconstruct today’s complexities to take advantage of the right resources for the job, and by doing so, get better results faster.
Our research has shown that the way people prefer to think impacts how they approach interactions, decisions, problems and every other aspect of work and management. By understanding and then optimizing their thinking for the situation, managers can increase their agility and overall effectiveness exponentially across the board.
Here are just a few questions to consider as you look at your management development activities in the context of building thinking agility.
- Do your managers know how to stretch beyond their thinking preferences when necessary to execute where you need to go?
- Do they know how to leverage their own brainpower and the brainpower around them in the most efficient, optimal ways?
- Do they understand how to best manage and allocate the thinking resources on a project or initiative?
- Do they know how to optimize and shorten communication time, regardless of whom they are interacting with?
- Can they quickly adapt to the communication needs of others?
- Much of management’s focus in the past has been on individuals, but effective collaboration is becoming more important for better, faster and more innovative results. Do your managers know how to encourage collaboration, bring together the best cognitive resources for the task at hand, and participate in a collaborative way to make sure objectives are achieved?
What about you? Have you seen a need for greater agility in your own role? Is it impacting the way you approach the job?