Leading in Crisis: Leadership Agility

Throughout my entire life, I have associated the concept of agility with athletics. As a general rule, great athletes are agile. They have the ability to move, think and react quickly when competing. I have come to the conclusion that great leaders are agile leaders. Like great athletes, great leaders have the ability to move, think and react quickly. I am not proposing that leaders are to be impulsive, hasty or reckless in their leadership of others when I use the word quickly. On the contrary, my reference to “leadership agility” is a reference to a leader’s need to be adaptive, flexible, resourceful, decisive and resilient in the midst of change.

The coronavirus requires effective leaders to be agile leaders in the midst of the volatility, uncertainty and complexity this crisis has presented to our businesses and the world. As paradoxical as it may sound to many, the ability to lead with agility in volcanic change is to stay anchored to our unique identity, mission and value system. The ability to think with clarity and agility in this present crisis is not to abandon who we are, and what we value, but rather to allow those realities to govern how we react, adjust and behave in a world that feels so unstable and erratic.

There are countless suggestions that are being made to leaders in this present crisis. I would like to respectfully offer some of my own. Focus on the things that have always been important to you. Focus on the things that have kept you in business through the years. Stay true to your mission and value system, and above all else, never stop valuing people! As you are forced to make leadership decisions in an environment that requires the ability to move, think and react quickly, don’t lose sight of who you are and what has made you successful. It is so easy to panic and to move into survival mode which can easily lead you to lose sight of yourself, your mission, your values and your people.

Agility requires flexibility. Agility requires thinking outside the box. Agility requires staying positive and remaining solutions-oriented while receiving more troubling, or bad news. Agility requires making decisions quickly and decisively, when it is so much safer to remain inside of our comfort zones and do nothing. As a leader, this crisis is forcing all of us to lead with more agility than ever before. Great leaders, like great athletes require agility. In the midst of this crisis, be agile, but don’t lose sight of who you are, your mission and people!