Is the year 2021 a blessing or a curse for the business environment? A taxman would say: "it depends on the support measures decided by the government". A macro-economist would say: "it depends on the approach of deficits and investments". An entrepreneur would say: "it depends on the agility of companies to transform digitally, to launch new products or services and to enter new markets".
Each separately and altogether is right. The link between these answers is leadership. The speed and volume of change require unprecedented agility in thinking and action, a subtle blend of strategic calm to focus on long-term vision, and tactical energy to face reality and act.
The challenge of agile leadership
By adapting to changing priorities, agile leaders focus on the 20% of challenges, which provide 80% of the results. They are courageous in the face of uncertainty and transfer responsibilities to others, building a culture of learning in which mistakes are accepted as bridges to success.
Agile companies depend on leaders at every level - even those to whom no one reports but who need the leadership mentality and skills for their role. In a Valoria survey, leaders identify the agile attributes of the initiative and communication skills as key differentiating factors they look for when considering company development in a dynamic environment.
Given the amount of change, uncertainty, and expectations of current employees, leaders need to be able to use a set of tools with functionality appropriate to the task at hand. The more I understand the distinctions between the different aspects of the leader's role, the greater the ability to implement the right functionality at the right time.
For the rapid application in any operational situation of the agile management model, it is important to understand the situation, share the point of view by the decision-maker, and delegate. In other words, strategic thinking, tactical coordination, and pragmatic operationalization matter.
Agility by flexing the leadership style
For the recalibration situation in which most of the companies find themselves, it is necessary to create exceptional roles. Instead of mobilizing all the assets of a company to deal with a single subject, it is necessary to distribute the roles as follows:
1. The established leader gives autonomy to a selected team/person - strategic level
2. It outlines the strategic direction for a facilitator who - tactical level
3. Interpret together with other colleagues the operationalization of solutions - operational level
By contrast, agility is a practical philosophy that determines the shape of the management structure applied to deal with any operational situation. This means that the form always remains the same, but different people can enter and exit each of the levels and simply take on the title relevant to that role.
It is important to note that the titles do not express seniority or rank, but describe the functions performed by certain people or sometimes by a group led by a certain person on any of the 3 levels.
There is a high level of subsidiarity, which means that decisions taken at the lowest level must be aligned with each level. For example, a coordinator at the operational level tasked with a defined purpose may have to make quick decisions to achieve it if the situation on the ground changes suddenly. He may call for additional tactical support, if necessary, or conversely, the tactical coordinator, with broader oversight, may move resources between operational ones without the strategist's permission to help achieve the broader tactical goal.
Leadership style can be flexed at each level as needed. Where any situation is dynamic rather than predictable, leadership style should match the specific situation. That is, to focus on the agility of the leader to adapt his style according to (1) the needs of the team and (2) the requirements of the situation.
The short answer to the opening question is the following: 2021 can be a blessing for those who are agile in running the business, diversify their options for answering unpredictable situations, train their people. But leaders who choose to remain stuck in a rigid mindset will have a year that challenges them on all levels.
The benefits of agile leadership are:
• More initiative and responsiveness at all levels.
• More energy for the most important activities.
• Better communication between and within teams.
• Fewer conflicts. More confidence.
• More motivated and involved employees.
About Constantin Magdalina
ConstantinMagdalina has 15 years of working experience, while he performed in multinationals both in Romania and abroad. Constantin has a master’s degree in Marketing and Business Communication from the Academy of Economic Studies Bucharest. He is certified in Lean Six Sigma and ITIL which provide him a good understanding of processes and transformations within organizations. The Chartered Institute of Marketing certification furthered complemented his expertise and knowledge in business. In those over 4 years of working activity in a Big4 company, he initiated and conducted studies that analyzed different aspects related to the business environment in Romania such as the economic growth predictions of companies in 2013-2016, knowledge management, the buying experience in the age of digital consumers, social media 2013-2015, the utilization of mobile devices in Romania. He is the author of numerous articles on topics related to innovation, the efficiency of business processes, social media, the consumers’ buying experience in the age of digital, trends, and emergent technologies. He is invited as a speaker at numerous events and business conferences.