Being a good leader isn’t something you can memorise, or take lessons for then consider yourself an expert, afterwards. While skills and certain principles may be taught, it’s up to you to make a conscious effort to put them into action.

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John F Kennedy once wrote that “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” As the leader of an entire nation counting on him to steer them through delicate foreign relations, economic difficulties, racial discrimination and other domestic issues, this US President knew he couldn’t afford to let his leadership skills slide.

Being a good leader isn’t something you can memorise, or take lessons for then consider yourself an expert, afterwards. While skills and certain principles may be taught, it’s up to you to make a conscious effort to put them into action.

There’s no real substitute for the experience you gain in the field as you pay close and careful attention to the impact of your actions on those you lead. This doesn’t mean, however, that the skills that a good leader ought to have can’t be learned or imparted in the form of guidance or mentorship.


A Guide Designed for Those Who Guide

To help you and the leaders in your organisation evolve your leadership abilities, we’ve put together this compact reference as a guide that acts in much the same way as a lighthouse for ships on a turbulent sea. It can be easy to lose sight of your role’s meaning or purpose amid the frenetic activity of your day-to-day, and the uncertainties of today’s business environment.

With entire teams of people and their respective leaders clamouring for your attention and multiple responsibilities demanding to be fulfilled, it can be helpful to take a step back and remember

  1. What it means to be a leader
  2. What are the critical traits a leader needs to have
  3. What a leader needs to do to address internal issues within the organisation
  4. How can a leader rise to the occasion to meet external challenges

This “quick refresher course”, if you will, just might help you keep your leadership goals in sight and within reach, and keep you on the path toward achieving them.


What It Means To Be A Leader

There are many definitions of who a leader is and what he’s meant to be doing, but they all might be distilled into this basic concept: A leader is a leader not because of the title he has, but the role he has to fulfil—and that role is to serve those he leads, and not himself. This means putting the needs of the organisation first, and making sacrifices toward this end.

Being a leader means being responsible for everyone in your charge, and constantly thinking of the greater good, which sometimes means overriding the individual. The larger the organisation or the more people you have under your care, the greater your responsibility.

This is one of, if not the guiding principle in making the tough decisions which, as a leader, are your job to make on a daily basis. When things get complicated, fast, ask yourself how a course of action in one way or the other affects everyone involved—from key management all the way down to maintenance. Everyone, not just a chosen few, must be able to benefit.


What Are the Critical Traits A Leader Needs to Have

It’s interesting to note how a list of characteristics that people expect their leaders to have, might often be seen on similar lists pertaining to heroes, idols, or anyone people look up to. But while we offer you a checklist of 20 Qualities of a Good Leader in Times of Change, we also point out that these qualities generally aren’t acquired overnight, nor on your own.

When we say “on your own”, we refer not to your personal initiative or drive for self-improvement, but rather to the fact that leadership doesn’t take place in a vacuum. Qualities on our checklist such as vulnerability and generosity, for instance, particularly require interaction with others to develop.

After going through this checklist and ticking off such qualities as you consider yourself to possess to an acceptable degree, it might be helpful to look back at the list later on to see whether you’ve improved. You might even make one or more of these qualities the object of a sort of “new year’s resolution” for you to work on.


What a leader needs to do to address internal issues  

In every organisation in every vertical across industries, teams are made up of people, and no two people are ever alike. As diversity in terms of background, skills and specialisations continues to abound in the workplace, it falls to you, as a leader, to make sure everyone is able to work together as smoothly as possible.

We offer you some advice for How to Manage A High-Performance Team Made Up of Different Personalities, reiterating the need for empathy and the ability to reach out and connect with people. While office cultures vary between organisations, the need for mutual respect, tolerance and trust between co-workers is a must at any level.

If a breach in this trust should occur or a line should be crossed, which does happen sometimes even in (or sometimes especially in) the closest-knit teams within “family atmosphere”-type cultures, it falls to you to restore harmony. You might refer to your organisational values and ask yourself, again, what the best course of action would be as regards the greater good.


How Can a Leader Rise to Meet External Challenges

  • Political issues
  • Economic trends
  • Technological developments
  • Natural disasters
  • Social questions

These are just some of the myriad factors affecting business growth, and as a leader, it’s your duty to see that your organisation is able to react in a timely fashion and to adapt accordingly.

Providing a prompt and effective response to challenges as they happen is the function of business agility. An organisation encumbered by a rigid hierarchy or bureaucratic procedure, for instance, would find itself quite unable to move quickly should an opportunity (or an impending disaster) present itself. Review the reasons Why A Good Leader Needs to Understand Business Agility.

It’s not enough for an organisation, however, merely to react—especially in the midst of the likes of a downward trend or negative backlash to an unforeseen event. An organisation must be able to adjust or change its team structures and business processes, for instance, and it’s up to you as a leader to effect these changes as needed.

This entails keeping an open mind and a willingness to learn, and while it’s undeniably admirable to adhere unflinchingly to a set of values and a work ethic, clinging to outdated procedures or methodologies will do your organisation no good. Ask yourself, Do You Practise Adaptive Leadership? to find out whether you’re the kind of leader your organisation needs.


Learn From Other Leaders

Being able to adapt, or to evolve as a leader comes with the territory of business growth. As with growth in general, not changing into something better is precursory to death—or stagnancy, at best. You owe it to the people you lead to keep on learning to become a good leader. It’s your responsibility to them as well as to yourself.

The good news is that you’re not alone—nor should you be. At the heart of your evolution as a leader is the ability to listen and empathise with the needs of those around you, within and outside of your organisation. Learning opportunities are just waiting to be found within every interaction; all you have to do is to seize them as they come.

Find guidance and mentorship specially designed for leaders and leaders-in-the-making with trainers who know what it is to be leaders, themselves. On top of decades of experience in leadership and management training, executive coaching, and business agility, our trainers have held key management positions in leading multinationals across the region and beyond.

Meet your mentors at Kaleidoskope, now.

Fill out our form to receive full details on how you and your organisation can benefit from mastering the art of High Impact Facilitation. Just a few fields and you’re on your way to becoming a highly effective trainer.

Are you a good leader? If so, business leaders must have a firm understanding what true business agility is. Click the link to learn more!

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KALEIDOSKOPE BLOG Why A Good Leader Needs To Understand Business Agility SEPTEMBER 2018

Think of your organisation as a dodgeball team—you’ve got competitors, economic uncertainties, technological developments, evolving consumer needs and a host of other challenges coming at you at a rapid-fire pace. And just like in dodgeball,
it’s the nimble organisations which are quick on their feet that emerge victorious.

The ability for businesses to respond and adapt quickly in the face of constant economic whitewater is a given, but what business leaders must do to enable this begins with understanding what true business agility is.

Let’s take a look at the hallmarks of an agile organisation, and what you need to do to help your own organisation develop its own business agility.


Not just Flexible, but Agile


The largest challenges are often more easily overcome when broken down into smaller, more manageable components. This, in essence, is the Agile business methodology, which focuses on delivering value via an incremental build up rather than a one-fell-swoop delivery; processing each component in short, regular cycles.

Each Agile practice takes cues from Agile principles, which include simplicity, self-organising teams, regular reflection and adaptation, and a sustainable development pace. Customer satisfaction is the highest priority in Agile, which also encourages face-to-face conversations as a best practice. It is also important that projects are built around motivated staff.

As your business people and teams collaborate, they find themselves welcoming changing requirements and devoting continuous attention to technical excellence. Such Agile practices have been shown to provide a greater ROI.


A Lean, Mean Agile Machine


If a big challenge is broken down to make it easier to take on, the process for taking it on may need to be trimmed down, too. Lean is all about giving customers maximum value with minimal waste, or as few resources as possible.

On top of waste elimination, Lean principles include building in quality, creating quality, deferring commitments, fast delivery, and overall optimisation.

Both Lean and Agile work together in developing an organisation’s business agility. Lean prioritises the development of the skills needed to provide value with the least waste, while Agile emphasises the development of the process needed to provide value in an uncertain or rapidly changing environment.


Being Lean and Agile isn’t Enough


While Lean and Agile play key roles in becoming an agile organisation, business agility is far more than a combination of both methodologies. Business agility goes a step further to focus on developing people—making sure that the organisation is constantly learning and guided by adaptive leadership.

As a “business agile” organisation, you’ll continue to learn as you find people-centric ways to come up with innovative solutions for their needs, as well as product-centric alternatives to improve the way things are done. You’ll likewise be following a market-centric business model to get the most value possible out of your business.

As a result, your organisation will be able to understand your customers better, and know how to delight them. You’ll be able to create higher quality products and services, and to get them out into the market faster. More importantly, you’ll be able to adapt more readily to any changes in the market.

Google, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are just some of the many organisations that have benefited from business agility.   


Developing Business Agility


Just like a dodgeball or any sports team, it falls to the coach or the team leaders to know what the players need to keep on their toes and stay in the game.  As the leader of your organisation, you’ll need a firm grasp of the culture and mindset that comes with being business agile.

KALEIDOSKOPE BLOG Why A Good Leader Needs To Understand Business Agility SEPTEMBER 2018 image 2

Take stock of your current culture, operations and management thinking, and create a model for transforming your organisation into an agile one. You will then need to learn the techniques to improve your current practices. Some of those techniques include

  • Value stream maps, a Lean method for streamlining processes
  • Kanban, a way to organise processes to identify problems and priorities
  • A3, another Lean method for problem solving


In learning these techniques, going back to the beginning of business agility as an approach is a great help, as this will show you how it came about and why it’s proven to be so effective. You’ll also have to go back to what your customer’s needs are, what your competitors are doing, and what the market looks like as these continue to evolve.


It will also be up to you to foster a spirit of innovation within your organisation, making it a place where new ideas are welcome and experimentation is encouraged. You’ll recognise how value needs to be measured, and how all your processes have to be reframed in terms of their performance in creating value for your customers.


Perfecting Personal Agility


As you steer your organisation towards developing business agility, it follows that you’ll need to develop your personal agility and build your personal brand.

In becoming the quick, decisive and highly adaptable leader your organisation needs, it helps to bear in mind that anything can happen at any given time. That way, you won’t be completely caught off guard and you’ll always be ready to deal with disruptions as they take place.

You must also nurture your ability to make the most out of every opportunity to learn from your staff and to gain feedback and insights to help you in decision-making. This means becoming a better listener, knowing the right questions to ask, and having interpersonal agility or knowing how to adjust to individuals with different needs and personalities.

While your experience is invaluable to finding solutions, don’t let it be your only point of reference. You need to be open to new views knowing that what may have worked yesterday may not be the best solution today. You also need to know how to let go of options that aren’t working out, even if it means letting go of something that has worked in the past.

This relates to enhancing your own learning agility, or the ability to learn from mistakes or failure. While many leaders would much rather forget about things that have gone wrong, an agile leader sees them as opportunities for growth. This also involves being able to take constructive criticism as well as taking carefully considered, progressive risks.

Even as you remain flexible, be sure that you remain consistent, which means that your team can count on you to lead them through change with the entire organisation coming out on top. This in turn means being able to provide an excellent customer experience that is not only consistent but continues to improve.

At Kaleidoskope, we continue to guide key decision-makers and their teams toward true business agility with learning initiatives driven by seasoned facilitators with international market experience. Get in touch with us to get started at your organisation, today.

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