While it’s often said that strong leadership is an organization’s competitive advantage, is there a single characteristic that can predict which leaders will be most effective?
Leadership Consultant Cindy Wahler, Ph.D., contends that flexibility is the trait that distinguishes great leaders.
“Flexibility assumes that there is always more than one solution,” she writes in a Forbes.com post. “The cycle of your business is generally evolutionary not revolutionary. It isn’t ever about getting to an end state. Rather, it’s understanding that things remain in constant motion.”
Being open to alternate possibilities is key.
“A sense of disequilibrium is the norm,” Wahler continues. “Leaders with foresight seek out talent with the express purpose of attracting team members who have varied educational, cultural and business backgrounds. This is deliberate. These leaders show up at the table knowing they are smart. This is different though than leading as though they are the smartest one in the room. Team meetings are facilitated to encourage risk taking, stating brave new ideas and allowing others to take the lead.”
Agile leaders also have tremendous resilience, which strengthens the entire organization.
“These leaders expect setbacks and use failure as a learning experience,” she writes. “This then gives permission to their own team to fail. They understand this learning creates business insights that push ideas further ahead. The second aspect is that a sense of mastery comes from an acknowledgement that they must continue to pivot as their team brings forth new ideas and challenges.”
In addition, agile leaders create and foster an exciting culture, attracting other leaders who expect and desire change.
“They make it crystal clear they depend upon their team to provoke thinking, which in turn promotes ownership and an ever-changing business paradigm,” Wahler writes.
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