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Developing Leadership Agility

There are many “useful assumptions” underpinning the art and science of NLP – and I am pleased to be able to say “science” because at long last NLP is getting the academic research and presence it deserves as more and more UK universities are becoming involved with NLP. One of the assumptions underpinning NLP is: “Whoever has the most flexible behaviour will have the most influence in any situation” This assumption has its roots in Systems Theory and it is known as “the law of requisite variety”. It means the more flexible you are in your thinking and behaviour, the more choices you have in any given situation – i.e. you can make more resources available. In today’s complex and rapidly changing world the term “Agility” is being used to describe the approach leaders need to take in order to keep growing, learning and quickly adapting to new demands. “The challenge of leadership in a modern world lies not in wasting energy trying to resolve or remove ambiguities or complexities – but in learning to live with them. As a leader this requires skills in influencing, negotiating and learning when to compromise” Joiner and Josephs– Leadership Agility

This challenge requires considerable mental and emotional flexibility - so how can you develop this? Joiner and Josephs’ book “Leadership Agility –5 Levels of Mastery for Anticipating and Initiating Change” is well worth reading. The 5 levels are themselves different stages – each reflects a stage in adult ego development and each level builds on the skills, experiences and competencies of the prior levels. Therefore, each stage needs to be mastered before the next stage can be developed.

© Miriam McCallum & McCallum Associates 2010

Catalyst –works beyond their mandate and involves the whole organisation. I will discuss 3 different kinds of agility here: • • • Stakeholder Agility Creative Agility Self Leadership Agility © Miriam McCallum & McCallum Associates 2010 . Synergist – harnesses the energy of the organisation to deliver the vision. the leader asks the questions about how to deliver the results in the right way.The 5 Levels of Mastery (Competency levels) 1. There are of course times and contexts when this is what is required. 5. Expert – the expert is the one who leads the way to identify and solve problems. 3. At what level would you like to be operating? Which level are you working at now? Many of the managers with whom I work put themselves under great pressure – as they are often operating at the level 1 (Expert) and level 2(Achiever). varied and creative collaborations within and outside of the organisation. There are 2 questions for you here. Interestingly – Joiner and Josephs’ own research reflects this too i. most managers are operating at levels 1 and 2. This level forms unique. Sometimes a different level is what is needed. 2. Co Creator – develops a collaborative leadership team where members develop a sense of responsibility not just for their own units but for the wider organisation. So there is an opportunity here for leaders to choose a different mindset – to develop mental and emotional “agility” and in this way leverage greater success without so much of the mental strain. At the synergistic level. These are the levels where the leader needs to have all the answers and be able to solve the problems. with the right people and bring about positive change in the world at large. But this is not always the case. 4. So how can you develop your Agility? There are different kinds of “Agility” and this is the opportunity available for you – to develop your skills along your leadership development path to Mastery. Achiever – works with their team to deliver what is required to deliver their organisation’s strategic outcomes.e.

We filter experience according to the way we view the world and so we all see the world in a different way – we all have unique and individual maps of “reality”.(1) Developing Stakeholder Agility .take the following different perspectives: • Yourself ( your own map of your world) o What do you see? o What do you want to achieve? • The other person ( as if you were them – through their map of the world) o What do they see? o What do they want to achieve? o How does your “agenda” appear to them? o What new information does this perspective bring? • Someone you do not know who is observing and listening to your interactions from far away ( observer position – again. Now think of this case from the perspective of each of the following: Someone on a diet A plate A child at a birthday party A baker A fork A couple on their wedding day A growing mould An oven Quite different I am sure! Now think about yourself in a specific situation which may have been challenging for you in some way at the time. (I am going to assume as you are reading this that you would like to find new ways of resolving this situation) Now – as you remember the situation i. This situation might have involved a key stakeholder individual or group of people. as if it is happening now.e. as if you are viewing the world via a different map) © Miriam McCallum & McCallum Associates 2010 . We tend to view the world from our perspective – quite natural really as we view the world from our own eyes and our own mindsets.Learning how to view different perspectives One way is to develop your skills in perception – or “paying attention” to what is going on around you. Think of a cake. This is not as straightforward as it might seem.

great. the more “informed” you will become and the more enriched your map of the world. This is quite common “to go in search of problems” … and there may be many! In fact the more you look the more you will find. It takes a bit of practice and imagination but it is very interesting to do this. “You can never solve a problem on the same level on which it was created” Albert Einstein © Miriam McCallum & McCallum Associates 2010 . if no. why not? A great question indeed. However it is one sided and loaded somewhat to uncover problems within your organisation.ft.Insightful questioning Stefan Stern in his blog http://blogs. You now have more choices in your thinking and behaviour – and more mental and emotional agility. I would like my child to work for my company” – then why is this the case? This information is additionally useful – what is great about this company? What works really well here? What kind of culture have we cultivated to enable all these great things to take place? It is possible that those “great” things about your organisation may hold the clues to solving its problems.o o o o What do they see observing you and the other person? How do both “agendas” appear to them? What is interesting to them? What new information do you now have from this perspective? Now you have 3 perspectives instead of one .the more information you have. This behaviour is very much along the lines of the Level 1 “Expert” we have discussed earlier. However – let us apply a bit of Creative Agility and consider the other part of the question – the answer being “yes. (2) Developing Creative Agility .com/management/ posted an interesting question: “Would you like your child to work for your company? If the answer is yes. Of course those great things may not be what you thought they were! This takes you to a different level …on the agility scale.

In addition – getting some great constructive feedback is always helpful. © Miriam McCallum & McCallum Associates 2010 . 32 Issue 4. This process can of course be very rapid and intuitive. Joiner and Stephen A.” Joiner and Josephs Warmest wishes Miriam McCallum MSc. e. p28-35.setting objectives.g. I have outlined some ways in which you can cultivate this in your own way as you continue your journey to Mastery! Of course you probably understand this already – but if you want to have the opportunity to explore how you can do this in more detail then do please do give me a call. References: Creating a Culture of Agile Leaders: A Developmental Approach. as in developing a new business strategy. “Highly agile leaders are strongly committed to their own personal development. Vol. 8p Leadership Agility: Five Levels of Mastery for Anticipating and Initiating Change. when you are having a conversation or it can be more sustained and systematic. and they understand how social and environmental responsibility enhances long-term business success. 360 feedback tools are excellent for this – and very helpful in enabling you to understand different perspectives – as long as you are open to the different perspectives! Being flexible or agile allows you to consider different aspects and be open to new and different ways of thinking. 2009.(3) Developing Self Leadership Agility .Reflective action The best way to cultivate this is to engage in reflective action – this means quite simply . taking action (a key part!) then reflecting on your experience. People & Strategy. William B. Josephs. developing a strategy or plan for achieving these objectives.