Are You An Agile Leader?


Agile leaders are what I like to call, “Artists of Change.” They can adapt and innovate quickly and easily. Most people in a leadership role are the opposite—they stay problem-focused and can’t think of solutions beyond what’s been tried before.

That’s why agile leaders are becoming more and more indispensable in workplaces.

And the good news is that you can instill agile leadership habits into your daily life fairly easily, which can make a huge difference to your success and to those you serve.

Retraining Your Mind

A lack of agility is normal.

The mind has a strong bias for resisting change and seeing the world from a negative perspective.

The good news is that through changing small habits of mind, you can retrain the way your mind operates under pressure, much like an athlete trains their body and mind to perform well under pressure.

According to the latest research in neuroscience, the brain will develop new neuropathways in 21 to 66 days, if practised regularly—then the habits become default.

For example, when you first started driving a car, your learning curve was slow. You had to pay conscious attention to every move. Now it’s default; it’s gone into the subconscious. You are able to drive, talk hands-free on the phone and even put on mascara.

Why People Don’t Implement

Most people learn good leadership skills in the form of complicated concepts versus simple, practical habits. Therefore, they don’t implement anything and as a result, don’t see results.

On the other hand, by turning a new concept into a small, quick habit and testing it to ensure it works in the real world, people get far better results.

We all have issues, many of them, every day. The way you approach your issues can make or break your agility, resiliency and innovation.

Test Your Agility

Here’s an example of turning the concept of being “vision-oriented” into an actionable small habit. Think about an issue that you loop-on lately—one that greets you when you awaken. We all have at least one.

Now that you have your issue in mind, do you know your ideal outcome?

In all our studies, we found non-agile leaders could only name their issue; they didn’t know their ideal outcome. They thought of what was not working and what they did not like.

You probably know people like that who are always focusing on the problem; it’s hard to get them to talk about what they want instead.

On the other hand, agile leaders knew their ideal outcome and it was something they had control over. Not only that, they would focus on it over and over again, even in the face of obstacles and lack of results.

Let’s suppose your issue is, “I feel overwhelmed by the amount of emails I have to manage.” Start by writing out what your ideal outcome is, “I somehow find a way to manage email well this week.”

Now that ‘s thinking like an agile leader.

It All Starts With One Word: Somehow

Often, starting with the words “I somehow” or “we somehow” helps to create a specific, ideal outcome.

The instinct to focus on the issue comes from not feeling like you know how to solve it. Yet, people rarely know how until they’ve done it. You just start focusing on it, and the “how” reveals itself as you go.

The word “somehow” allows you to bypass that instinct.

You don’t yet know how you will be successful, but you have identified your direction, written it down and now your subconscious mind will get to work to create that outcome for you.

If not given that direction, your subconscious mind will create more of the problem—what you focus on grows.

Developing small, new successful habits can dramatically lessen your sense of overwhelm.

The Problem-Solving CEO

I coached a CEO of a company who spent the majority of their time helping other people solve their problems. As a result, they couldn’t focus on their own big, important tasks.

Then they tried the following activity with their staff. “Before you come to me with an issue, you must have the ideal outcome written out on paper.”

What do you think happened? Because of the new action, far fewer people came to the CEO with issues. They came up with their own solutions. That problem-solving method is very popular and it works amazingly well. Now, the CEO has a lot more time to build company revenues.

Conceptual understanding will not change your behaviour. You need to take action to re-train your subconscious neuropathways over time.

Like training wheels on a bike, practice helps people make default changes in the way they think. Eventually, they will make adjustments easily and automatically.



Carla Rieger is a motivational speaker, author and leadership coach. She activates team leaders, CEOs and business owners to be more agile, to speak with power and passion and to build a positive team culture. She is the CEO of the Artistry of Change Training & Coaching Inc.

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