The Agile Leader Book Summary By Simon Hayward

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The Agile Leader is a must-read for anyone in the corporate world.

Released in 2018, this book explores how leaders can drive popular organizations forward in the ever-changing digital world.

It goes into detail about agile working and how corporate teams can use this method to stay ahead of the competition, particularly start-ups, as well as keeping up with customer expectations that are constantly changing.

All these different elements are explored within the text so readers have a better grasp of how to work with and within an agile environment.

The Agile Leader Book

Book Name: The Agile Leader (How to Create an Agile Business in the Digital Age)

Author(s): Simon Hayward

Rating: 4.4/5

Reading Time: 21 Minutes

Categories: Management & Leadership

Author Bio

The Agile Leader, written by Dr Simon Hayward, is definitely a well-respected read.

That's because Dr Hayward himself is a well-respected man.

He holds a doctorate in Business Administration from Alliance Manchester Business School, plus he's a fellow of the Chartered Management Institute and a member of the British Academy of Management.

In addition to The Agile Leader, Dr Hayward has written several other books on the subject of business administration.

His first book, Connected Leadership: How to Build a More Agile, Customer-Driven Business was even named WHSmith Business Book of the Month back in January 2016!

With such a wealth of knowledge and expertise behind him, you know that reading The Agile Leader will offer you great insights into how to become an effective leader.

Why Agile Business Leadership Is The Key To Success In A Digital World

Business Leadership

The Agile Leader Book Summary provides an invaluable guide for any business leader wanting to transform their company, team, and leadership style quickly.

Traditional companies currently face the daunting task of needing to keep up with a rapidly changing digital world with lightning speed, and this guide will show you how.

In these concise sections, you’ll find practical advice on how businesses can become agile and acquire laser-like focus, using lessons from well-known organizations.

You’ll be shown why senior leaders need to make fewer decisions; how start-ups think differently than traditional companies; and what sports players can teach business leaders about agility.

To turn your organization into an agile powerhouse that stays connected with customers at all times, trust the advice in The Agile Leader – it will help your business achieve maximum success, fast!

Agile Leaders Need To Foster A Sense Of Disruption And Connection To Succeed In The Vuca World

Agile leaders must be able to embrace change and respond to rapidly shifting realities in order to succeed.

This is especially true in a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) business environment where technological advancements are being made at a rapid pace and trends change constantly.

The Agile Leader needs to foster both disruption and connection if they wish to survive.

Disruption involves pioneering new methods of doing things that break the traditional rulebook and can lead to big risks but also big rewards.

Connection refers to building relationships with customers and understanding their needs so as to remain relevant in their industry.

Examples of agile organizations succeeding at both disruption and connection include Uber who revolutionized city travel through their innovative app, and Airbnb which disrupts the hotel industry while also fostering an online community of hosts and travelers across 200 countries worldwide.

It is only by mastering the art of disruption AND connection at the same time that agile leaders will be able stay afloat in this ever-evolving business environment.

Agile Leaders Must Constantly Seek Learning Opportunities And Honest Feedback For Lasting Success

Agile leadership means seeking out learning opportunities and getting feedback from everybody involved.

Agile leaders are curious and eager to learn, looking for positive feedback to gauge their progress while making sure they keep up with the most current technology in their industry.

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Moreover, agile leaders use mentorship not only as an opportunity to learn from their teams but also so that their teams gain knowledge from them.

Mentorships should be mutually beneficial and offer both sides something valuable to take away – whether it’s gaining digital literacy or reaping feel-good hormones released when honest feedback is framed positively.

Ultimately, agile leaders must have the skills needed both mentally and physically (akin to an athlete’s agility) in order to truly succeed.

How Businesses Can Embrace Agility By Putting Clarity And Customers First

Customers First

It’s no secret that agility is key to success in the business world.

And for businesses looking to become agile, one primary focus should be on having everyone understand their roles, purpose, and the company’s strategic vision.

That way, it can ensure that all employees are making decisions that support the organization’s objectives.

An agile business also puts customers at the core of everything it does.

Unfortunately, many larger corporations often struggle with this as they become inwardly focused on bureaucratic processes and past successes rather than staying in tune with what customers demand at present.

In order to make customer satisfaction top priority, companies must strive to get closer to their target audience and constantly test new ideas on them – even if those tests have a degree of risk associated with them.

By doing so, they can better understand how they can add value to customer lives while still keeping control.

Ultimately, successful companies know that agility starts by having clarity within – which means understanding goals, roles and brand vision – while also keeping a close eye on what customers want now and in the future.

Ruthless Prioritization Is Key For Achieving Business Goals And Increasing Agility

Achieving agility in your business requires you to have clear and defined goals.

But it also requires that you prioritize these goals, so that you can streamline your activities and focus on what matters the most.

By stripping away anything that is not relevant to your top priorities, you and everyone in your company will be able to focus their efforts on what really matters.

For example, when Mark Zuckerberg decided he wanted Facebook to be mobile in 2011, he ruthlessly focused on that task until it was achieved – a mere two years later.

This ruthless prioritization has proved time and time again that focusing on a few key things gets results much faster than trying to juggle several tasks at once.

Even if there are certain procedures or regulations in place already within an organisation, as must have been the case with British Airways when Alex Cruz took over, these need not be left untouched.

If they don’t help achieve the company’s prime goal then they should be abandoned for simpler and more direct solutions, with customer experience always kept front of mind.

Ruthless prioritization is at the heart of the most agile companies around today; agility requires clear business goals and a relentless focus on priorities.

Building Effective And Agile Teams: The Role Of Shared Goals, Team Behaviour, And The Right Size

It’s a common mistake to assume that the composition of an effective and agile team is made up of talented individuals.

But the truth is, there is more to creating a successful team than that.

Take the example of a competitive rowing team – some rowers must be strong and powerful, while others need technique and rhythm; but all of them, along with a coxswain who has strategic thinking skills, must come together in order to win the race.

What this example shows us is that a great team isn’t simply made up of talented individuals but rather, it’s more about how they work together as one unit and achieve their shared goal.

Research has also shown that individual talent is not really the biggest factor when it comes to teams and achieving success- it’s how these people behave towards each other that plays an important role.

A group of talented people can still lose if they compete with each other instead of cooperatively working towards one goal- leading to mediocre results at best.

So for maximum business output or efficiency, teamwork should not be underrated- having real teamwork in your organization will ensure higher productivity levels from everyone involved.

In agile teams where no senior managers are present, individuals should be given freedom to make decisions then empowered with enough information so they can use their expertise effectively.

Senior managers should act as coaches for their teams instead of making all decisions themselves (micromanage) which gives agility to teams!

Finally size plays an important role too- around 7 members on board are ideal for better results!

Leaders Need To Balance Intuitive And Rational Thinking For Decision-Making Success

Decision-Making Success

When it comes to making good decisions, it’s important to understand what system of thinking you should use.

According to Daniel Kahneman in his book Thinking Fast and Slow, there are two different systems that we all use while decision-making – System One which is instinctive and quick, and System Two which takes a bit more time and utilizes logical reasoning.

Leaders need to know when to rely on each one for accurate decisions.

For example, consider a champion fencer – skilled at analyzing their opponent and outsmarting them through logical thinking (System Two), but also able to move their body quickly in order to avoid blows from the opponent (System One).

We might trust System One thinking too much since it can make decisions very quickly, but evidence suggests that slowing down can be beneficial for leaders when making decisions – taking into account data and advice from experts helps arrive at more rational decisions.

Even in hectic situations where quick action is needed, leaders must take into account both types of thinking in order to make better decisions – this was demonstrated with the New Zealand rugby team as they practiced physical cues such as foot stamping to switch between “Red head” (agitated/panicked) or “Blue head” (tranquil) mental states in order to act with accuracy under intense pressure.

But it’s also possible for leaders to become too focused on analysis paralysis – spending too much time collecting data and considering all possibilities until they forget about experimenting or taking risks.

That’s why it’s important that leaders understand both types of systems before diving into any kind of decision-making process.

How To Encourage Your Team To Embrace Agility

If you’d like to nudge your organization toward agility, then it’s important that you encourage your staff to take the plunge.

Much of the success of an agility initiative relies on the buy-in from team members, and research suggests that around 75 percent of change initiatives fail because staff don’t feel engaged or included in the process.

To get people onboard, it’s important for you to explain the opportunities for them that come with switching to an agile method.

Remind them that they’ll become decision makers, and that their teams will be much more productive.

Make sure to emphasize how agility will empower them–people are usually motivated by a promising possibility.

It is also necessary for senior managers in traditional companies who are used to rigid hierarchies and linear timelines to give agility a chance.

These can often be challenging individuals as they have learnt throughout their careers not to make mistakes nor trust others; Becoming agile requires releasing control and delegating more than ever before which goes against their core beliefs.

To help ease this transition a formal training program is useful where safe spaces can be created in order for managers to work through mental blocks.

The best way to get everyone else involved is if you take the lead yourself and become a model of agility by not being afraid of making mistakes (your openness will let others know it isn’t wrong) and actively seeking feedback from your colleagues on how well-received your push for agility has been so far.

Wrap Up

The information in The Agile Leader has presented a clear message: companies must transform themselves into agile, start-up thinking organizations to remain competitive.

To achieve this transformation, they should strip away the bureaucracy of their business and empower employees to make more decisions.

This vision needs to be set by strong leaders and matched with shortening planning cycles to enable quick decision-making.

It is only then that the organization can swiftly move and adjust direction whenever it needs to.

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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