Don't you wish you created the iPad, Uber, AirBnB or any of these disruptive businesses?
Not for the money (well, that would be great) but for being part of making enormous positive change to the lives of people around the world.
Or, maybe not. Maybe you prefer the status quo?
I consider myself to be an 'Uber' type of person - I was an early adopter to the iPad, I've had my family home on AirBnB for five years and I work for myself helping people lead others into a more effective and productive future.
I came across this 'Uber Moments' term when I decided to learn more about Agile and Agile Leadership. If you're interested to learn more yourself, I highly recommend the following two books which I discuss in this blog.
HOW TO CREATE UBER MOMENTS
The expectation of our leaders today is becoming a challenge to define.
We have businesses, communities and societies operating at different speeds, some behaving as if it’s still 1980 and those who are prepared to travel to Mars in 2030.
Whether you like it not, we are being disrupted every day; we might not know it, we might be ignorant, but we are living in an era which is seeing norms being challenged, competitors changing rules and the rise of a generation who are seeking flexible and evolving ways of working.
Gone are the days of waiting patiently – we can almost guarantee if we don’t keep up with people’s expectations, we’ll be out of business whilst the competitor pivots and responds quickly to fresh ‘uber moments’ threats.
So, here’s something to consider: if you don’t speed up your leadership, and be what is expected of you, you will become a redundant leader. The language we are speaking about is the requirement of being Agile; an Agile Leader.
Whilst the term Agile isn’t new (it’s a teenager), the need and demand for ‘agile leadership’ is becoming more common. Given the shenanigans in Australian politics these past two weeks, I wonder if we could consider that our politicians need to be agile (Oh my Lord, this is an oxymoron – an agile politician!!!)
I’ve taken my curiosity to a few books, TED Talks and Podcasts to explore how Agile Leadership fits into and expand my breadth of Leadership Intelligence. I wanted to determine if it’s a new term or just a synonym; is it a phase which easily replaces what we’re currently doing, or should we be on high alert to another reason or need to change, the need to feel uncomfortable, take our socks off and speed up our action.
Agile is and will be a mindset change for many. And to be an Agile Leader, it’s a mindset flip. A flip! The question is, “How do you flip if you’re flexibility is limited?”
This is the perfect opportunity for the digital natives out there to take the lead and show us folk representing other ‘generational ages’, what it means to work agile-ish and how they lead people in the amazing new businesses in this busy complex world.
Lynne Cazaly, author of Agile-ish – How to create a culture of agility has been working with people in the Agile space for years and in her easy-to-read book, she has served us the entrée to the meal of being Agile. Easy does it, not too much, just the right amount of information to determine if we could apply for the jobs which want: Agile Leaders.
In our fast-paced world with changing contexts, transformation is the new norm. However, we are stubborn social beings and often believe we don’t need to change. Sorry to tell you, you do. Well, actually, Lynne tells you that you do need to change and one of her processes will swiftly get you into gear: ask, listen, talk, think, practise and change again. That’s your newly created daily mantra to be a worthwhile contributor to this agile movement.
I love the simplicity of this message from Lynne and I don’t think we follow this process. Lynne’s agile-ish model includes four phases. So, this is a good start to determining how agile you might already be:
Involve – you need to start thinking about the customer, empathize how they feel and think, want and need, to get your mindset right – it is all about them, not you!
Ideate – when you know what your customer values, you then need to come up with ideas, not just you, the team that you involve as we know that more heads are better than one.
Implement – now here is where the rubber hits the road, start doing stuff with the ideas, create activity and test it out with the customer, quickly – is it what they want or not? Gone are the days of waiting a year for the finished prototype or product – you’ve got to do this super speedy and then …
Iterate – have another go at producing what you thought the customer wanted, change it up, it’s OK if you stuffed up the first batch. As Lynne says, are you tinkering or transforming … the latter is your goal.
By experimenting with this approach, you are demonstrating the behaviour which creates the culture of agility. Unless you are a start-up, it’s highly likely that you’ll need to work on your culture which fosters this linkage to the customer and speed to being of more immediate value to them.
Simon Hayward, author of Connected Leadership (2016) – How to build a more agile, customer-driven business forewarned us that we must be more agile to lead businesses in this complex world. He produced a model with five distinctive spheres which his PhD research identified, with one sphere being agility. I have used Simon’s connected leadership model with many clients to transform how they were leading their businesses/teams.
Simon has taken this Agile component to the next level and produced, hot off the press, The Agile Leader – How to create an agile business in the digital age, to explore this practice as a style of leadership.
In his ‘main meal’ offering, Simon promises to differentiate the leadership required of leaders who’ve been in the game for a few years.
The first clear distinction which kept me reading was the untraditional focus on Trust. I am a huge advocate for Trust and I suppose I naturally gravitated to the mere mention of a leader needing to ‘give trust’ opposed to someone earning their trust. (Read that again please.)
We have a society of bright well-educated individuals who need to be given the opportunity to run with ‘that project’. It’s rather easy for them and more likely challenging for you to ‘let go’. Having an agile foundation, giving trust, checking in daily briefly, is the start of being an Agile Leader.
The ‘command & control’ style of leader, who still populate our world, will struggle to imagine how this can operate given the risks and governance which squeeze the life out of people. It probably makes sense why so many ‘start ups’ start up – they want to cut the bureaucracy out of the plan and get direct to the customer quickly.
The agile leader behaves like this:
· Clearly articulates the main thing done as a business – one-page vision, mission, strategy
· Hosts daily huddle meetings to: check progress, give support if necessary
· Proactively understands digital – seeking out digital natives to ‘get it’
· Has a Learning Mindset continually reviewing progress and doing it better
· Thoughtful decisiveness by pausing before decisions are made
At the heart of this Agile Leadership is the Agile Paradox - helping people collaborate and be involved yet at the same time disrupting them to think and operate differently. Simon emphasises that to lead agilely, you need to enable and disrupt at the same time.
Another aspect of agile leadership stood out for me, ‘put people over processes and tools’ which is the first of several Rules of Agile. With what would appear as a ‘management style of working’, this refreshing statement is paramount to be a leader, well before the Agile Leader description was coined.
What kept me reading, were the many case studies Simon shared. These stories brought the whole Agile Leadership alive. These included: Zara, AirBnB, CDL (UK), Three (UK), Facebook, and a little closer to home, The All Blacks. Probably the most famous rugby team, the All Blacks team were analysed for their agile approach. Two strategies were identified which they employed which set them apart from other rugby (sports) teams – they win and work as a team.
Firstly, Double Gaze with its Japanese Samurai heritage, taught the members of the All Blacks to: keep one eye on the individual situation and one on the bigger picture. Or as one of Simon’s clients put it, ‘the ability to look around corners’. This capability enables them to thoughtfully make great decisions, at the coal face, which impacts the success of the whole team (and organisation.)
And the other notable practice is their ability to self-manage as a team. Having the skills and confidence to define together how to deliver the outcomes for the next ‘sprint’ oozes responsibility for their performance. They have transparent tough discussions about individual and collective performance which is anchored by respect and trust to enable them to continually ask: How can we do what we do better?” This is an enabler (leadership) and a disruptor (agile) – challenging behaviours and not settling for a comfortable level of co-operation.
This is all about choice. I have gathered so many insights after reading these two agile books and I have made a choice to share this information with you and several of my clients. I highly recommend you choose to learn more about agile leadership or share your agile practices with your clients, colleagues and dare I say, competitors. It’s for the greater good and who wants to be left behind – let’s design together, how to see around corners!