This article originally appeared as a Council Post on Forbes here.
In a survey conducted by Deloitte on Industry 4.0 and readiness, executives reported that lack of vision on the part of leadership is one of the top three challenges to setting an Industry 4.0 strategy.
In my practice, I define agility as “the ability to be flexible and navigate through uncertainties and complexities while maintaining a sense of ease and authenticity.” This definition may be simple but is aligned to the quality we are all looking for in Leadership 4.0.
With mounting pressures and the incremental rate of change year after year, leaders need the foresight and resolve to set the right strategy swiftly when chaos hits. Through my interactions with hundreds of leaders championing change in their respective organizations, I have seen how little time it can take for them to shift into a mindset of agility.
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In Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, we learned that each of us plays multiple roles in our real lives. The method I’m introducing here is to nurture and give voice to five internal roles to increase and focus your self-talk in a deliberate way. This makes our heads think differently; hence, our hearts and hands start acting differently.
To help executives develop agility, let’s look at a leader’s five inner voices and hear what they might say.
“Captain of my soul, master of my destiny” is a common phrase many of us have heard before. When we determine how we see life and choose how to feel, we choose the life we want for ourselves.
Everyone has the Captain in them. Dr. Travis Bradberry, co-author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, has advocated that emotional intelligence should be the priority for every leader to develop in 2020. Changes often evoke emotional responses (sometimes nasty ones) and top executives need to master them first before they can lead the way.
When the Captain speaks in your mind, you will hear these questions:
• What do you want? Why do you want it?
• How aware are you of your emotions and are you in charge of them?
• How deliberate and intentional are you in your thoughts and actions?
In the Fourth Industrial Revolution, where boundaries are blurred, diverse teams can now converge and create massive change. The need for common ground and understanding becomes vital. Executives need to adopt a more open leadership style to foster trust, retain talent and allow teams to grow as one. The Developer will help you do that.
Hear the Developer by asking these questions:
• Whose value and contribution are you recognizing?
• Are you recognizing yourself too?
• Have you given constructive feedback that is crucial to your team’s performance?
• How have you developed yourself today?
Excellent leaders are usually highly proficient thinkers and strategists. Albert Einstein said: “If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions.”
In my practice, I have observed a direct relationship between the ability to understand and define problems accurately with the quality of the solutions. If you had proposed a solution that could only hold water for five minutes before it was busted in front of senior executives, then this is a hint that you need to strengthen the Strategist.
When you nurture the Strategist, you will:
• Be able to ask questions that elevate the quality of discussions and thinking
• Understand the problem and, therefore, the solution so thoroughly that you can tell it in various ways that make sense to different stakeholders
Use RADAR (results, approach, deployment, assessment and review), and be accurate at every part. In my experience, approach and deployment are usually the most problematic due to lack of alignment. That’s where the Visionary comes in — to bring people together by creating a vision so compelling that everyone wants to take part in it. There is self-actualization for every single person as they partake in the dream.
The Visionary will ask these questions:
• Who do you want to become?
• How does the vision help others become who they want to be?
My favorite is the Agilist. The Agilist is similar to the “black hat” in Edward de Bono’s “Six Thinking Hats,” always looking out for what could go wrong. The Agilist is pragmatic, non-romantic, and courageous. The Agilist takes a matter-of-fact approach to change: throw out what’s not working and try something else. Trying new things means forming new habits, which research has shown takes 66 days. The Agilist is going to be the one who keeps you moving forward and out of your comfort zone.
The Agilist will ask you these questions:
• What’s working and what’s not?
• What can you do differently?
The five voices together help a leader think differently and cultivate agility. You will be able to think swiftly, act with authenticity and make tough decisions easier to make. When the five roles work together seamlessly, your executive presence will skyrocket; your ability to influence and mobilize large groups of people, all striving toward the same cause, will be phenomenal. Only until then can you stay ahead and afloat during volatile times.
Download the companion leadership agility checklist here.
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