Agile Leaders are Responsive

Over the past year, you’ve likely heard the term agile coming from Interstates. Our focus on agility is part of being an enduring company that provides stability for our employees and our clients. One aspect of agile is being responsive. Responsiveness looks at how we behave when presented with a business problem or challenge. A leader has two options. They can either be responsive or reactive to business challenges.  Let's take a look at both options so you know the difference between the two and you can assess how you might become a more responsive leader. 

So, what does it mean to be a responsive leader? Pamela Meyer in her book, The Agility Shift, defines responsive as “The ability to respond quickly and effectively to the unexpected and unplanned, as well as to emerging opportunities.” [1]  Responsive leaders take time to think when they encounter something challenging. They listen to others explain the problem. They may consult colleagues or discuss with others who have experienced something similar. They consider both short-term and long-term outcomes as well as the consequences of their actions. They are deliberate as they formulate a response; acting strategically to take a business challenge and turn it into an opportunity. 

Reactive leaders operate on their emotions, often the emotion of fear. Their desire is to act quickly and keep everything under control. They often make snap decisions and go with the first idea that pops in their mind. Reactive leaders are rarely effective. 

One way to be a more responsive leader is to operate with the mentality of “slower is faster”. It may sound counter-intuitive but slowing down or pausing can help you be quicker and more effective in the long-run. Slowing down allows you time to think, go deeper, truly understanding your challenge and come up with solid solutions that allow you to reach your objectives quicker and use less energy. "What time you lose in decision making, you gain in execution" a CEO of a global agrichemicals company once shared. [2] 

It should be noted that both responsiveness and reactiveness happen in the same general time frame. You likely think the reactive leader acts quickly. They typically do but the responsive leader acts in a timely manner as well. Responsive leaders collect their thoughts. They don’t have a lot of time to create a perfect plan. A timely response trumps a perfect response.   

So, what can you do to become a more responsive leader? Meyer offers the following skills and indicators to help guide your efforts:    

Skills / Practices Performance Indicators
Improvisation Positively respond & resolve challenges
Communication, collaboration, and coordination Act in a timely manner
Decision making Client satisfaction
Mindfulness Utilize available resources
Game Finding:  Recognizing patterns
Learning Agility

How are you doing at being a responsive leader? What ways can you continue to develop your responsiveness skills as you pursue agility?


Doug Post, Interstates President

[1] The Agility Shift by Pamela Meyer.  Pages 134-135. 



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