The value of agile leadership

Agility is an organisational superpower – it allows teams to improve performance amid disruption.

Over the recent years, there has been a significant increase in organisations adopting agile ways of working in which the organisation empowers its people to optimise their performance and to do their best work. Leaders in these organisations operate in fundamentally different ways to more traditional leaders, listening to their teams and being curious about new ideas and possibilities, and continuously learning.

Maximising the people potential

The true value of a high-performing team and the agility of their leaders become even more significant during major disruptions such as the pandemic. These teams are characterised by their strategic resilience, their ability to pivot and bounce back, and their constant commitment to innovating their way out of challenges. Agile teams collaborate, learn from each other, get quick feedback, and are focused on quality and continuous learning.

Agile leadership is about being resilient and thriving in a time of frequent disruption, through self-awareness and empowering others. Leaders who create an agile culture maximise the potential of their biggest asset: their people, empowering them to be the best they can be and do the best they can do. This in return creates a high performing team culture which leads to improved customer service, creative problem solving, transparent communication and innovation. Agile leaders create a safe environment for empowering and nurturing these characteristics, setting a clear vision that teams can embrace and own, whilst they function autonomously within their set boundaries.

Adopting a growth mindset

Organisational cultures that reward risk-taking and accept failure move more quickly than those that don’t. When employees face criticism for failing, they are less likely to take risks – which, especially during a crisis can be fatal. Agile leaders understand that continual learning is critical to success. They recognise that to grow, they need to periodically unlearn and re-learn, and they do this by creating an empathetic, human-centred environment where everyone is valued and can contribute. This psychological safety is vital to learning as it provides the opportunity for everyone to share experiences and ideas.

Agile leaders understand the futility of predicting the unpredictable and instead build rapid feedback loops to ensure that initiatives stay on track, welcoming ideas from anyone, not just from those with the highest status. They view their job as helping team members to learn and to take responsibility, rather than telling every team member what to do and how to do it. The adoption of a mindset of continuous learning also requires a leader to take a step back, see a different path and refocus to overcome the challenges and failures they’re facing. As a result, successful leaders are resilient – they take on challenges where they can’t guarantee success and focus on rapid execution.

At Acumen, we pride ourselves in offering development that gives managers practical tools to help solve real-life challenges. We offer an extensive menu of courses, workshops and coaching programmes, ranging from communication skills through to executive leadership development. In most cases, we design the interventions specifically for each client, but we also offer a wide range of off-the-shelf programmes for those who prefer this approach. For more information about our programmes please contact Simon at