Agile Leader Behaviour Shifts

by | Mar 18, 2019

  • New ways of working need new ways of leading
  • Moving from old behaviours to new is a gradual shift
  • Look for diversity of behaviours in your leadership team to be effective



One of the trickier behaviour change programs required with organisational transformation is that of the leadership team behaviour shifts. And the reason why it is particularly tricky is that, by virtue of their tenure in organisations, the leadership team have been rewarded for old behaviours for a long time. To ‘suddenly’ shift to new behaviours can feel very dangerous and risky.

But shift they must.

Today’s environment for most organisations requires a commitment to organisational agility. Agile leadership is a very different beast to the style of leadership that has been useful for steering organisations in steady waters with known external factors and largely predictable paths.

From the work I’ve done with leaders in this space, I would say there are four primary shifts that need to occur. To be clear, I’m not suggesting that these are binary toggles of “on and off”. It is unlikely and unrealistic to expect everyone from your leadership team to move from the non-agile state to the agile state as a result of simply announcing that it is necessary to do so.

What is likely, and useful, is that all of your team seek to shift the dial a bit, and do that on a repeated basis. Expect diversity of adoption on your leadership team – some will have real strengths in one or two of these agile leadership states, but perhaps not all. And that’s ok. With every shift to the future state, the organisation is better able to respond to a VUCA environment (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous).


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The Four Agile Leadership Behaviour Shifts

From Operational Subject Matter Expert

I want to have involvement in all of the details and current issues. I have great knowledge that needs to be used.

To Strategic Sponsor

My focus is on enabling our people to achieve future goals. I clear roadblocks and connect the dots.

From Command and Control

I expect to approve all decisions. Challenges to my thinking amount to insubordination and a lack of respect.

To Empowerer of Autonomous Teams

I trust my people and promote an environment where it is safe to fail and we share the lessons learned readily.

From Deflect through Delegation

I can only do as well as the people who support me. They need clarity and certainty to perform at their best.

To Complete Accountability

The buck stops with me – this means I promote and environment of continuous improvement and I am conscious of the consequences of not driving change.

From Perfection is Priority

Accuracy is paramount regardless of the time it takes. We need to ensure that everything we put forward is accurate and worded perfectly.

To Data-driven movement

80% and done is better than perfect. I use data to inform decision making quickly and am comfortable with the iterating on solutions based on feedback. Ship it!

And, for those who want something visual to print out and stick on the wall, here's an infographic version.

Infographic Agile Leader Behaviour Shifts


Over to you for your thoughts. If a leader, which of these behaviour shifts do you think is the most difficult to make? What makes for an easier transition for you?

I’m curious to know.


A change management Jiminy Cricket, sitting on your shoulder coaching you on the way forward. I know you’re capable of greatness. So drop me a line.


Sign up and receive monthly Change Leader Insights.