The 4 Abilities Required of Agile Leaders
Being an agile leader refers to remaining flexible, growing from your own mistakes and rising above the wide array of challenges you face.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Entrepreneurs have a set of leadership skills that make them a little different from every other worker bee. They choose to walk down the road less traveled by breaking away from corporate America and venturing out on their own, bucking trends and at times, even breaking the rules.
Thinking outside the box and forging your own path requires agility. Being an agile leader refers to remaining flexible, growing from your own mistakes and rising above the wide array of challenges you face. How can entrepreneurs become agile leaders? Here are the four abilities needed:
1. You need to have the ability to innovate.
Agile leaders have a set of shared characteristics: being extroverted, taking charge and challenging the status quo. Basically, it's people who have been described as "difficult to manage." Being difficult doesn't have to be a bad thing. It just means that certain people have their own way of doing things and are able to generate new ideas because they possess the ability to view issues from multiple angles.
Doing something the same way over and over and expecting the same results is the definition of insanity, so why not buck the trend?
2. You need to outperform challenges.
Entrepreneurs are constantly faced with a number of unfamiliar challenges that they must navigate through. As a result, they bring a number of learning experiences that are unparalleled in the business world, but in order to learn from those challenges, entrepreneurs must remain present and engaged.
Ambiguity can bring a lot of added stress, and entrepreneurs need to adapt quickly to perform at optimum levels. Again, agility plays a big role here.
If you're unable to adapt and strategize to overcome your challenges, the odds will not be in your favor. To conquer those obstacles, you must have keen observation and data-processing skills as well as the ability to tackle (and adapt) to new situations that are revealed through data.
3. You need to reflect on your experiences and get feedback.
Agile leaders doesn't just seek new and innovative experiences, they learn from them. Constant feedback, and processing that feedback, is one way to remain engaged and seek more insight into potential shortcomings and blind spots. We all have our weaknesses. Pretending you don't is a huge mistake and no entrepreneur should volunteer for that high-wire act.
There's a fine line between arrogance and confidence. Don't be that person! Confidence will build your business. Arrogance will destroy it twice as fast. Never turn a deaf ear to what your customers or employees are telling you about your product or company.
Listening doesn't mean agreeing with everything they say, but you must have a healthy sense of self-awareness if you're going to remain in business for the long haul.
4. You need to take good risks.
Entrepreneurs are risk-takers by nature, and so are agile leaders. They are resilient and calm in the eye of the storm. Entrepreneurs are constantly putting themselves out there, willing to try new things, taking progressive risks, as opposed to the thrill-seeking kind. Don't take risks just for the heck of it. That's reckless behavior that'll get you nowhere fast.
An agile leader takes on roles where success is not a guarantee and where failure is very much a possibility. They are constantly thinking outside the box and always learning about new ways of doing business that'll eventually lead to success.
Not every career prepares you for life as an entrepreneur or a small-business owner. If you can't stomach the roller coaster you're about to ride, maybe you should reconsider getting on. But if you do, get ready to enjoy the ups and downs of being an entrepreneur. It's a hell of a ride, one with high rewards if you can adapt and roll with the punches!