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Leadership in agile organisations

By Eva Norrman Brandt, Sofia Kjellstrm, Ann-Christine Andersson,

Jacob Hallencreutz


Organisational agility is considered a contexts that rely on expertise and

KEY WORDS prerequisite for most organisations hierarchical position. This article presents
Organisational agility today. Business leaders are challenged a set of demands on the agile organisa-
Transformational leadership in handling turbulence, uncertainty and tion and matches these demands with
Leadership agility constant changes in the market. What two research-based leadership models:
Adult development kind of leadership is needed to match transformational leadership and leader-
the requirements of the agile context? ship agility. A discussion follows on the
Research indicates a mismatch between findings in the article in relation to the
traditional hierarchies and agility. Leaders authors experience as a consultant.
seem to be more adapted to traditional


The world is changing due to a variety In a survey of European businesses, most

of reasons. Agility is a term frequently organisations understood the need for
used in management today, indicating agility in order to be successful in the
an increased need for organisations to future (Allied Consultants Europe, 2010).
rapidly react and respond to internal and The vast majority of companies surveyed
external change. Technology connects were not satisfied with their current level
people and makes information travel of agility and therefore aimed to increase
faster, spreading good and bad news it. 60% of the managers considered
at the speed of light. Global economy, the level of agility needed to be high
turbulence and complexity are all factors or very high in order to sustain their
affecting organisations, which create growth. 72% of the managers wanted
a need for organisations to adapt and to improve their organisations level of
respond in order to survive (Joiner, 2009; agility, and the majority of the public
Joiner & Josephs, 2007; Ebrahimpour organisations considered their current
et al, 2012; ACE 2010). Jafarnejad level of agility to be low or very low.
(Jafarnejad, 2006) states that agility is However, their future aspirations were
the new paradigm, implying a change very similar approximately 60% of both
in attitudes, goals, work practices and private and public organisations aimed at
management of organisations. a higher level of agility.

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Leadership in agile organisations

An agile organisation anticipates and ducted. A short presentation of organisa-

reacts to change, is effective in reallocat- tional agility is followed by an indication
ing resources and responds to customer of what kind of leadership is needed. A
needs. The authors of this article have model of desired leadership abilities in
noticed an increasing awareness of the the ACE report is presented, and two
emerging demands from the environ- frameworks of research-based leadership
ment and marketplace in a variety of transformational leadership and leader-
organisations during the past five years. ship agility are described and matched
The challenge is clear but as with all with the leadership demands of organi-
change situations, change is easier to sational agility. The article concludes with
prescribe than perform. a discussion of the analysis in the light of
the authors experience as a consultant.
Hallencreutz (2012) found that managers
use change management models to
a low extent, even though they are Organisational agility
informed of the benefits. In an effort to
get it done and due to lack of incen- The concept of agility refers to alert-
tives, focus and ability to apply theo- ness and flexibility as well as the ability
retical models in practice, they dismiss to succeed in an unpredictable and
theoretical aspects of change in favour changing environment. Organisational
of using a set of quick prescriptive steps agility is a novel concept that lacks a
or no structures at all. Hallencreutz found precise definition in business literature
that knowledge is rarely transferred (Ebrahimpour et al, 2012). The core
from consultants and experts on change meaning of organisational agility is
management to managers who are sup- the capability of a company to rapidly
posed to master change management on change or adapt in response to changes
top of everything else they have to deal in the market. A brief review of avail-
with. Another reason for failure of most able definitions of organisational agility
change initiatives is the lack of urgency. (Crocitto & Youssef, 2003; Ebrahimpour
The why and a clear need for change et al, 2012; Gumusluoglu & Ilsev, 2009)
are not communicated and result in a show that they all consist of two parts.
feeling that the change is not for real. The first part states that organisations
Management need a roadmap as well encounter a turbulent, volatile and
as support to find new ways of acting unpredictable business environment. The
and handling the turbulence. Among the second part makes it clear that organisa-
dimensions affecting organisational agil- tions need to react and respond to these
ity positively, management and leader- demands. Customers need more and
ship appear to be the most crucial (ACE, varied products. This requires systems
2010). that are capable of quickly responding
to customer needs (Veiseh et al, 2014). It
Since leadership and management are also encompasses the ability to change
so crucial for organisational agility, and the direction of strategic agendas and
agility seems to be a desired condition resources in an efficient and effective
for many organisations, the aim of this manner (ACE, 2010).
article is to analyse what leadership
qualities are required in an agile organi- When the speed and pace of develop-
sation by comparing two theoretical ment in the market are high, employees
frameworks: transformational leadership must be encouraged to participate
and leadership agility. in innovation, pay attention to events
affecting the business and focus on cre-
ating customer value rather than doing
Methods things the right way. There is a need to
establish fast organisational learning,
A theoretical comparison of the needs adaptable organisational infrastructure
and demands in order to create organi- with a scalable workforce, continuous
sational agility and the kind of leadership learning and knowledge sharing
needed to enable this has been con- (Crocitto & Youssef, 2003). Businesses

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Leadership in agile organisations

need to focus on solid principles such as organisations with a high level of organi-
customer focus, cooperation, mastering sational agility not only experienced
change and valuing people and informa- strong performance and success, they
tion (Ebrahimpour et al, 2012). also had a market leading position in
the majority of cases (MIT Sloan School
In order to handle competition, a of Management on Business Agility & IT
variety of methods and philosophies Portfolios, 2005).
are used. El-Tawy and Gallear (2006)
describe the connection and interde- Leadership in organisational agility
pendency between Lean principles and
Leadership needs to adapt to organi-
agile philosophy in supply chains in the
sational agility, which can be done in
manufacturing industry, and they reach
several ways. Crocitto and Youssef
the conclusion that both are needed to
(2003) underline the human side of
create an efficient business. However,
organisational agility and the need for
as highlighted in Crocitto and Youssefs
elimination of traditional hierarchies.
(2003) article, the focus on the human
Most managers come from a traditional
side of organisational agility is often
hierarchy, and therefore it may seem
underestimated or polarised. Some
unappealing to let go of status and
researchers tend to focus on production
position when the hierarchical posi-
and operations management (Dean &
tion has been earned over many years.
Bowen, 1994; OConnor, 1994), neglect-
Leadership based on a transformational
ing issues of culture, organisational
and value-based leadership approach is
context, communication and leadership.
suggested (Veiseh et al, 2014; Kuhnert &
General management theorists focus
Lewis, 1987; Gumusluoglu & Ilsev, 2007).
on the people dimension within a total
Leaders must engage and motivate all
quality management framework without
employees so that they can contribute
considering the mathematical aspects
to the development of the organisation.
or human technology aspects of agility.
Everyone should feel an obligation to
The challenge is to embrace both techni-
contribute, take on responsibility and
cal and human aspects (Crocitto and
understand their importance in making
Youssef, 2003).
the organisation develop and sustaining
the development. Creating an agile
Being agile as an organisation has a
culture requires leaders to be skilled in
positive correlation with performance.
a number of agilities in order to handle
Ebrahimpour et al (2012) looked at six
the above-mentioned arena of turbu-
agility capability variables (responsive-
lence and complexity (Joiner, 2009).
ness, flexibility, competency, quick-
The ability to step back and zoom out
ness, agility capabilities, company
to gain a broader perspective and then
performance) in relation to company
zoom in again to decide what to do
performance indicators (sales compared
next is emphasised as a key practice for
to competitors, company market share,
agile leaders.
customer attraction, customer increase,
new products to market, ROI, net profit,
Six dimensions of organisational agility
company performance, agility capabili-
ties) and found that there is a positive Organisational agility has six dimen-
and significant relationship between sions in which there is emphasis on the
agility, capabilities and corporate per- internal and human aspects (ACE, 2010).
formance in manufacturing companies. These six dimensions can be seen as
Another indication of the link between demands on leaders in which they need
organisational agility and success was competency (see table 1). Leadership
demonstrated in a report where market and management have been identified as
leaders were highly agile according to a the most important enablers of organisa-
performance index, competitiveness and tional agility.
reactivity (ACE, 2010). The response to
changes in the marketplace and custom- Within leadership and management it is
er needs seemed to be one of the most essential that leadership stimulates the
important influencers for success. The capacity and readiness of all employees

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Leadership in agile organisations

FIGURE 1: Demands on leaders in a fast-changing world

Demands on leaders

Organisational Leadership & management

agility Innovation
Learning & change


to think outside the box by stretching Analysis

goals in a way that challenges the busi-
ness as usual mindset. People have to The six dimensions and enablers of
think in a dramatically different way to organisational agility will be taken as a
reach ambitious goals. Building leader- point of departure in the next step. An
ship on a firm value base means that all analysis regarding the three levels of
managers must embody this in their daily leadership agility and transformational
actions and behaviour and convey it to leadership will be conducted with the
all employees. The core of innovation goal of matching specific capacities
is to put the exchange of ideas on the within each leadership style to the
agenda and openly discuss trends and demands on leaders carrying out the
forces in the market with employees and tasks needed for organisational agility.
external stakeholders that will positively We start by introducing the two theo
increase everybodys learning curve retical frameworks.
and improve the propensity to innovate
Transformational leadership
within the organisation (ACE, 2010).
Strategy involves creating an internal Looking at the demands on leadership
dialogue to help improve the level of when dealing with organisational agility,
agility within the business and raising the transformational leadership is one of
strategic awareness, which in itself has the dominating leadership models men-
a positive influence on agility. Culture is tioned in international journals in recent
about being transparent with informa- decades (Larsson & Eid, 2012). The con-
tion, giving clear direction and allowing cept of transformational leadership was
people to contribute to development and introduced by James MacGregor Burns
learning. Learning and change mean that (1978). According to Burns, transforma-
everybody has to take responsibility for tional leadership can be seen when the
and contribute to change. The challenge leader elicits motivation and willingness
of structure is to balance operational to contribute rather than mere compli-
excellence with agility and to possess ance. It involves shifts in the beliefs,
the ability to reallocate resources when a the needs and the values of followers
business opportunity arises. Networking (Kuhnert & Lewis, 1987). Leaders and fol-
externally and internally is also vital while lowers encourage each other to advance
encouraging job rotation and multi- to a higher level of morality and motiva-
skilling across the organisation. tion. Through the strength of their vision
and personality, transformational leaders

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Leadership in agile organisations

are able to inspire followers to change different levels of leadership agility, each
expectations, perceptions and motiva- representing a distinct set of mental and
tions to work towards common goals. emotional capacities. The framework of
leadership agility builds on theories of
Unlike the transactional approach, it is adult development where the core idea is
not based on a give-and-take relation- that it is possible for people to continue
ship, but on the leaders personality, to grow and mature in adulthood, which
traits and ability to make a change means that they develop qualitatively
through example, while articulating an different ways of thinking, talking and
energising vision and challenging goals. acting (Commons, 1989, 1990; Kegan,
Transforming leaders are idealised in the 1982; Kohlberg, 1981; Loevinger & Blasi,
sense that they are a moral example of 1976). Empirical studies show that lead-
working towards the benefit of the team, ers can expand their ability to under-
organisation and/or community. Burns stand broader perspectives, become
theorised that transforming and trans- more receptive to feedback, have a more
actional leadership styles were mutually visionary view on leadership, become
exclusive. Later, researcher Bernard M. better at resolving conflicts and learn
Bass expanded upon Burns original the benefits of developing subordinates
idea to develop what is today referred (Cook-Greuter, 2005; Dawson &
to as Bass Transformational Leadership Heikkinen, 2009; Joiner & Josephs, 2006;
Theory (1985). According to Bass, trans- Kegan, 1994; Kegan & Laskow Lahey,
formational leadership is defined based 2009; Kuhnert & Lewis, 1987; McCauley,
on the impact that it has on followers. Drath, Palus, OConnor & Baker, 2006;
Transformational leaders, Bass suggests, Torbert, 1994; Torbert & Fisher, 1992;
garner trust, respect and admiration Torbert, 2004; Torbert & Rooke, 1998,
from their followers. 2005; Valcea, Hamdani, Buckley &
Novicevic, 2011).
The effects of a transformational leader-
ship style on organisational agility have The way people make meaning stems
been studied recently. In organisations from their inner mental and emotional
facing rapid, instant and unpredictable capacities. A more mature adult makes
changes along with special orders and meaning from a more balanced platform
expectance of a high level of personal- where own and other peoples views can
ised customer service, transformational be evaluated. The overall demands on
leadership had an effect on organisa- leaders are aimed at a more advanced
tional agility and a mediating role of level of leadership agility, thus allowing
creativity (Veiseh et al, 2014). Veiseh et the leaders to bring in new perspectives,
al (2014) ranked the effects of the trans- be curious and interested in involving
formational leadership style on organi- others, let go of control of details, be
sational agility and found a positive less focused on power due to hierarchi-
correlation between the four dimensions cal position, present inspiring long-term
of transformational leadership, hopeful goals, be visionary and handle uncer-
influence, inspirational motivation, intel- tainty and change.
lectual encouragement and personal
consideration. The three most common leadership
styles are presented briefly: the expert,
the achiever and the catalyst (Joiner
Leadership agility
& Josephs, 2006). Expert leaders are
Leadership agility is a framework most effective in stable organisational
adapted for environments characterised environments. Leaders rely on authority
by rapid changes, turbulence, uncertainty and expertise. Their focus is tactical, and
and complexity. Stephen Josephs and they rarely attempt to influence matters
Bill Joiner presented results and conclu- beyond their own authority. They have a
sions of an in-depth study on leadership strong problem-solving orientation and
in their book Leadership Agility in 2007. are strongly motivated to develop their
The concept identifies both crucial com- own technical and functional expertise.
petencies for a leader to be agile and five Achiever leaders are most effective

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Leadership in agile organisations

where success requires periodic cross- stakeholders in collaborative dialogues

functional changes in strategy. They lead and creative problem-solving. Focus is
by motivating others to contribute to on developing empowered organisations
larger outcomes. They have a strategic and teams capable of sustaining success,
focus and excel at cross-functional which fosters both professional and per-
problem-solving. They are motivated to sonal growth.
develop the competencies needed for
management and leadership. Catalyst The Leadership Agility Model describes
leaders are most effective in rapidly managers leadership behaviours in three
changing organisational environments, different arenas: organisational level,
requiring significant coordination across team level and one-to-one level. Table 1
multiple boundaries. They provide vision- provides a brief explanation of the three
ary leadership while engaging various arenas for the most common leadership

TABLE 1: Most common leadership levels


Assumptions Tactical, problem-solving Strategic, outcome orientation. Visionary, facilitative orientation.

about leadership orientation.
Believes that leaders motivate Assumes that leadership involves
Assumes that leaders are others by making it challenging the articulation of an innovative,
respected and followed and satisfying to contribute to inspiring vision and bringing the
by others because of their larger objectives. right people together to transform
expertise and authority. vision into reality.

Feels that leadership is about

empowering others and actively
facilitating their development.

Pivotal conversations Either strongly assertive or very Primarily assertive or Skilled in balancing assertive and
accommodative in dealing with accommodative with some accommodative styles as needed
differences. May switch from ability to compensate with in specific situations. Likely to
assertive to accommodative a lesser preferred style. Will identify and question underlying
and the reverse. Tendency accept or even initiate feedback assumptions, including their own.
to avoid giving or requesting if seen as helpful in achieving Genuinely interested in learning
feedback. desired outcome. from various viewpoints. Proactively
seeks and utilises feedback.

Leading teams More of a supervisor than a Operates like a fully-fledged Intent upon creating a highly
manager. Creates more of a manager. Meetings to discuss participative team. Acts as both
group of individuals than a important strategic or team leader and facilitator. Models
team. Works primarily one-on- organisational issues are often and seeks an open exchange of
one with direct reports. Too orchestrated to gain buy-in to viewpoints on challenging issues.
caught up in details to lead own views. Empowers direct reports. Uses
strategically. team development initiatives as
vehicle for individual leadership

Leading Organisational change Organisational initiatives Organisational change initiatives

organisational initiatives are focused primarily include analysis of the external often include development of a
change on incremental improvement environment. Strategies to gain culture that promotes teamwork,
inside unit boundaries with stakeholder buy-in range from participation and empowerment.
relatively little attention to one-way communication to Proactive engagement with various
stakeholders. solicitation of input. stakeholders reflects a belief that
this input will increase the quality
of decisions, not just gain buy-in.

Adapted from Joiner and Josephs (2007)

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Leadership in agile organisations

levels: experts, achievers and catalysts. and stable strategies and with an ambi-
Furthermore, the table describes the tion to make incremental improvement
leaders different assumptions about rather than respond to volatility and
leadership. It is clear that leaders at dif- rapid changes. Expert leaders do not find
ferent levels look at their leadership task it useful to engage people in collabora-
in quite different ways. tive dialogues. They tend to work on a
one-to-one basis and do not involve their
Analytical comparison assistant managers in common goal set-
Expert leaders are not capable of acting ting or visionary work.
in favour of organisational agility (see
table 2). This interpretation is based on The table below describes how the lead-
the fact that an expert leader has a tacti- ership style would handle the demands
cal and problem-solving focus which is of a specific agility dimension: some
better matched with an organisational certainty (small x) or most likely (big
environment that works with existing X). If there is no x, the analysis found no

TABLE 2: Agility dimensions matched with leadership styles


Agility dimension Leadership Leadership Leadership Transforma-
as identified in agility agility agility tional
ACE report Action expert achiever catalyst leadership

Leadership and Objective setting approach with stretch goals. x X X

management Value-based leadership approach. x X X
Team building workshops for management team. x X X

Innovation Seek and encourage the exchange of ideas with x X X

external partners.
Regularly discuss trends and forces in the market. x X X
Create flexibility to find new and unpredictable x X X
opportunities for future success.

Strategy Nurture an appropriate internal strategic dialogue to x X X

energise the whole organisation.
Raise strategic awareness. x X X
Constantly evaluate running projects on a strategic x X X

Culture Increase transparency of information for employees. x X X

Implementation of guiding principles; clear direction x X X
so that all employees understand their contribution.
Formally enable internal and external networking. x X X

Learning Energise and enable people to take responsibility and x X X

and change contribute to change.
Foster a learning organisation as a crucial part of the x X X

Structure Balance efforts to gain operational excellence with x X X

the need for agility in all departments.
Use working methods to foster multi-skilling of x X X
employees (job rotation, mobility).
Cooperate with external partners. x X X

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Leadership in agile organisations

likelihood of the leadership performed to catalyst leader is clearly a facilitator of

match or meet the requirements of the creativity; a leader who makes it fun and
agility dimension. safe to contribute.

Achiever leadership style is marked with When comparing transformational

a small x in table 2, which means that leadership with the different leadership
they are capable of carrying out the styles in leadership agility, we find that
actions indicated as drivers of organisa- there are similarities between the achiever
tional agility. As shown in the table, the and catalyst leadership styles and what
x is smaller for an achiever leadership is emphasised in transformational leader-
style than for a leader at catalyst level. ship. Transformational leadership aims
The reason for this is that achiever level at shifting the followers beliefs, needs
leaders have a reflective capacity cover- and values, not just creating compliance
ing their own development and personal (Kuhnert & Lewis,1987).
experience and change. The achiever
strives to learn from experience and to
have a sense of empathy and insight Consulting experience
into other peoples way of thinking and
acting. The achiever communicates and The authors of this article have as
relates to others in a more nuanced way consultants and teachers met groups
and relies on a system of values as a of managers in organisations with an
result of experience and reflections on explicit need for organisational agility
life. The achiever can work and plan on where the probable level of leadership
a more strategic, long-term level and was mainly at an expert level. How could
look for outcomes rather than doing we suggest this without having executed
the right things, as the expert does, and any kind of measurement or tested
is often respected for not putting their the managers? This is of course a valid
own interests above the interests of the remark. However, meeting managers
organisation. in exercises and discussions indicates
quite well how they create meaning,
At the catalyst level, a fully-fledged look at the world, perceive themselves
leader with all the prerequisites for build- as leaders and others as contributors to
ing organisational agility emerges. The problem-solving of their challenges.
catalyst is capable of creating a context
of sustained organisational achievement. According to research, 45% of managers
They set goals beyond the current function at expert level, 35% of managers
boundaries and often involve others in function at achiever level, and only 10%
problem-solving and innovation. A cata- of managers at catalyst level or above
lyst leader can let go of control and deal (Joiner and Josephs, 2007). 10% are even
with uncertainty and change without less developed and were found working
being too anxious. as supervisors in less complex organisa-
tions. Many managers were recruited and
The advantages of a catalyst leadership trained under different and more stable
style, when the demands are such as conditions where the expert leadership
indicated in the agility dimension, are style was more suitable. Many leaders
obvious. The catalyst possesses the have built their career on a leadership
ability to create new contexts where style that is less efficient in the new
people can use their creative potential by turbulent word and struggle to handle
participating in innovation and problem- their tasks with tools and strategies that
solving. They create situations where served them historically.
people feel motivated, valued and eager
to contribute. The achiever can bring A conclusion is that demands on leaders
people to engage in common tasks on are challenging in the current situation
a long-term basis, whereas the catalyst the experts seem to be the dominating
leader sets direction and lets people group of leaders, although it is clear that
contribute by creating opportunities for achievers and catalysts better match the
exchange of ideas and dialogue. The demands on modern leaders.

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Leadership in agile organisations

During a year-long assignment where We zoomed out and emphasised

a leadership development programme the context, the changes and the new
was launched, aiming at increasing the demands on leaders today and tomor-
collaborative and innovative skills in a row. We stressed that leaders were
quite traditional organisation, author Eva usually recruited on the basis of their
Norrman Brandt had the opportunity expertise and that most leaders in their
to meet 140 managers, most of whom industry relied on a deep level of knowl-
held university degrees and were experts edge in their areas of expertise. Without
in their line of business. The way this that deep level of knowledge and exper-
organisation worked was traditionally tise, they were unlikely to be accepted as
silo-oriented work within specific areas leaders. Their careers had been built on
of knowledge and competency. The new their way of acting and leading so no one
challenge was to work cross-functionally had been wrong. Now we turned to the
in collaboration with other departments present and future situation, an entirely
and grow by making innovations with different arena where demands on lead-
people inside and outside the organisa- ers and subordinates have changed com-
tion. To meet these challenges, another pletely. In this new context, additional
way of leading was clearly needed, so competencies and mental maps that
the CEO of the company decided to we could assist them with were needed.
build a leadership training programme We gained approval and established
aimed at a higher degree of leadership a working alliance with even the most
agility. reluctant and angry managers. As a sign
of recognition, one of them approached
When presenting and running this us at the end of this year-long leader-
programme, we estimated that approxi- ship programme and said you saved my
mately 60% of the managers in the health by giving me an insight into the
programme had a leadership style cor- need for involving others and letting go
responding to expert level. This became of control. This leader, who was a typical
quite clear when we discussed the expert with responsibility for every-
human side of leadership, for example thing and with a demand on himself for
when we talked about self-reflection having detailed knowledge of every area
and the psychological side of leadership. of his department, realised that delegat-
Furthermore, when we made an exercise ing, relinquishing control, trusting others
pinpointing different leadership styles in and involving several stakeholders not
the leadership agility framework, many only benefited him but also improved his
felt threatened and criticised when the line of business.
need for a different leadership style to
meet the demands on leadership in an
agile organisation was addressed. One Discussion
possible reason for the resistance was
that these managers felt uncomfortable The main conclusion is that organisa-
when realising that they represented a tional agility requires that leaders in stra-
kind of leadership that needed develop tegic positions exhibit transformational
ment. Those who intuitively found leadership qualities, or leadership agility,
themselves being an expert leader felt at a developed achiever level or even
challenged and even criticised. This better at a catalyst level.
experience was valuable to us as leader-
ship consultants it raised the question As far as methodological considerations
how do we help people to increase their are concerned, the succinctly analytic
level of leadership agility without feeling comparison has certain limitations. A
criticised and inadequate? People do more thorough comparison would ide-
not change and develop if they feel criti- ally rely on richer empirical material with
cised and inadequate. Subsequently, we more and lengthier examples. A comple-
found a way to deal with this an effec- mentary approach would be to test lead-
tive way to lower the resistance we met. ers on measurements aimed at assessing

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Leadership in agile organisations

transformational and developmental at personal development and takes on

aspects of leadership in order to see how the task of expanding his capacities. The
these correspond to leaders thoughts challenge is to attract leaders with an
and actions. This has been outside of the interest in personal development, which
scope of this article but is an important may not have been the most important
future research area. characteristic among business leaders
who traditionally were recruited and
The comparison between two models who focused on other merits such as
showed that the strength of the expertise in their field of competency. A
Leadership Agility Model is that it pro- recently released report from UK-based
vides a more detailed description of consultancy Harthill Consulting in collab-
capacities and capabilities connected oration with PwC indicates the need for
with each stage (expert, achiever, leaders at a strategist level to handle
catalyst). Transformational leadership is complexity and turbulence in the econ-
described in more general terms, where- omy, society and business environment.
as the Leadership Agility Model depicts This report is based on research and
more specific actions in several areas of practical work with leaders from different
leadership. The result of this study also industries. The conclusions in the report
confirms previous studies, which found are similar to what has been emphasised
that transformational leadership can be in this article. There is a need for leaders
compared to achiever level agility or at a more advanced level of leadership
higher (Kuhnert & Lewis 1987; Eigel & agility or with a transformational leader-
Kuhnert, 2005). ship approach. The need for a new and
different kind of leadership is acknowl-
The result raises the question of how edged today, but recruitment and train-
to handle the gap between leadership ing of leaders need to be more adapted
abilities and the required demand of to and aligned with the new demands.
organisational agility. When employees Research shows that business schools
are not up to the task, can we ask them to a small extent encourage personal
to be personally involved in personal development (Valcea et al, 2011). This
development (Kjellstrm, 2010)? To cre- should probably be reevaluated, since
ate a leadership structure in an organisa- the demands on leadership should also
tion is the responsibility of organisations be met with a readiness to support and
as well as individuals. If a leader is in develop leaders in an appropriate way.
over his or her head, it is not solely a
problem for the individual to handle, nor There is a need for further research
is it a fact to accept, it is also the result within the area of organisational agility
of inferior recruitment by organisations and leadership. In organisations where
(Kjellstrm, 2009). Further research is agility is needed but only a relatively
required on the effectiveness of leader- small number of leaders embrace the
ship development and how organisations leadership style most suitable for the
can be structured to respect people new reality, there should be attention
where they are. The Leadership Agility directed to the need for leadership agil-
Model explains that acquiring a higher ity. Recruitment and training aimed at
level means a developmental journey increasing the number of agile leaders
over time. It is not a quick-fix but it is would make a difference.
not impossible if the individual is aiming

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Leadership in agile organisations


Eva Norrman Brandt Ann-Christine Andersson

Jnkping University, The Jnkping Jnkping University, The Jnkping
Academy for Improvement of Health, Academy for Improvement of Health,
Jnkping, Sweden and Implement Jnkping, Sweden
Consulting Group, Stockholm, Sweden
Jacob Hallencreutz
Sofia Kjellstrm EPSI Rating Group, Stockholm, Sweden
Jnkping University, The Jnkping
Academy for Improvment of Health,
Jnkping, Sweden


For further information please contact:

Eva Norrman Brandt
+46 734 413 632

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Leadership in agile organisations


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