The most agile leader determines the most effective future. The greater the ability to focus on the outcomes and allow creativity in the process, will create greater levels of trust, momentum and effectiveness on a team. This will also encourage creativity and deepen the layers of leadership in your tribe.

There are a number of things leadership agility is NOT:

  • Agility is not just being “flexible” about results.
  • Agility is not overlooking critical components of skill, culture or behaviour.
  • Agility is not letting “anything go” in a team environment.
  • Agility is not managing so much that it begins to feel like too much.

Agility is the ability to use the right tool to solve a clear problem at the right time in the fastest way. It is being able to confidently handle the “I don’t know” scenario that so frequently visits teams in a fast paced continually changing environment. The military phrase that was coined is VUCA. Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity. This way of thinking was originally applied to war but has rapidly shaped/infiltrated the world we live in, in general. Leading in this environment is the new normal.

Agility is a combination of the following key commitments:

  • Responsibility
  • Focus
  • Perspective
  • Mindset

It is the deep internalisation of these four foundational skills. They are held together by the focus of the leaders, and the emphasis of the leader. Refer to the model below.


Agility | Master Model

Leadership Agility


Direction of Attention | In & Out

As a leader, being clear on where you are putting your attention is critical. I first learnt this from a colleague and mentor Matt Church while he equipped keynote speakers. Knowing you are “Attention IN” (focused on what is happening, in you, at that moment) is a key starting point for developing agility. Becoming aware of your physiology, your thoughts, what emotions and beliefs are driving you at this point, is critical to mastering self-leadership and ultimately the leadership of others.

In addition, there are times when you are “Attention OUT”. Your focus is on what is happening to others. You are attuned and attentive to the words, emotions and responses of the people in your team. Being able to move between your internal world, and your external world, is a key starting point for the agile leader.

Being & Doing | The Locus of Development

Life is a series of choices that you make. Irrespective of the experiences you have, you always have a choice. Always. Leadership agility is served by increasing the ability to make the wisest choice at the best time. In developmental terms this can be framed as your “being” as in who you are. Your being is the internal, most real self that actually exists. When you make progress on the “being”, almost everything else falls into line behind it. Agile leaders know they have a choice and expend energy on making the most resourceful choices they can.

Followed almost immediately by swift application and execution. Agile leaders live by failing fast, experimenting widely, focusing quickly and executing.

Critical Elements & Staging | What happens When?

The four stages that the agile leader goes through are:

#1. Responsibility – To be fully responsible and accountable for outcomes

In the executive coaching world this is called being “At Cause,” meaning each one decides that whatever the circumstances, they will remain responsible and accountable for the results they produce. I hold to the belief that this is the primary starting point for all and any life change. Period. The agile leader decides to be judged by what they produce, and by starting at that place they allow themselves the greatest possible scope for growth and development.

#2. Focus – What you choose to focus on, you find

We find what we are looking to the exclusion of everything else. The agile leader looks for possibility, potential, options, growth, and new pathways. The agile leader develops a sense of appropriate risk, healthy conflict and rigorous commitment to culture and execution. They look for the specific things that will create the most momentum and impact for the mission of the team. They look for progress, milestones, celebrations and stories that capture the hearts and minds of the organisation.

#3. Perspective – Able to look at people and problems and consider new horizons

In an executive mentoring group we concluded that this skill was THE skill to learn when you were faced with limited options moving forward. To be able to get to the edge of your map and know there is new, uncharted territory out ahead of you is incredibly exciting for the agile leader. To deep dive into the perspectives people hold to, and suspend a conclusion long enough to lean in to the way others see the world, becomes an important part of how agility works. Typically we tend towards certainty and hold to that. The agile leader prefers clarity over certainty. Having a clear sense of what is next in the context of the overall mission. Being less committed to the tool that is used and more committed to the art being created. Agility is the ability to hear and blend perspectives so an even greater outcome is achieved.

#4. Mindsets – Adapt and upgrade to agile thinking

Being able to genuinely and truly “renew the mind” is a core skill for the agile leader. Having the capacity to suspend judgement, bias, belief (even disbelief) in order to shape the future is critical for the agile leader. To realise that to be able to say “I don’t know” is actually the starting point of an entirely new adventure in learning and developing yourself and team.

When you get to “I don’t know” you are perfectly placed to install an upgraded operating system in your mindset. “I don’t know” becomes a beginning NOT an end. It becomes a place of heightened curiosity. When you get to an “I don’t know”, the agile leader stops and asks themselves “What if I did know?” That simple reframe opens up a world of possibility in your thinking and that opens up a world of possibility in your being, and that opens up a world of possibility in your doing. Upgrading your thinking is a critical final component to the agile leaders.

Agility can be learnt and developed. It needs to be encouraged and nurtured. It follows a developmental pattern that can be internalised and sped up over time.


In what specific ways can you apply this Agility Model to your leadership context? I’d love you to share your thoughts here.