We must be ...open to let the winds of life blow through us, to be our breath, our inspiration; in our agility to dance, and yet to stand upright... TS Eliot

‘Too big to fail’ is a phrase bandied around a lot in business. The events following the financial crisis have shown size may indeed provide insulating qualities, but it also carries with it stark vulnerabilities. It is agility that affords businesses and leaders alike, the power to make the most of their potential.

When we refer to agility, we’re talking about the speed and appropriateness of response to a changing situation. Agility is the ability to adapt style and behaviour in a way that enhances the interaction between people, through the most economical of touches. In the animal kingdom, agility is fundamental to adaptation and dictates survival. In the world of business, being agile is about listening, engaging actively in communication, and generating a better quality of reaction. Impossible to fake – it is during critical decision making that strength of agility really shows its worth.

In the world of business, being agile is about listening, engaging actively in communication, and generating a better quality of reaction.

Light on your feet and ready to move

To be a leader, you need to be able to read situations as they unfold around you, allowing you to capitalise on the circumstances you’re in, and deliver optimum results. For example, if you’re in a meeting with a prospective client and you realise that a clash of cultures is adversely affecting your position, waiting until after the event to formulate a strategy is too late. You need to think on your toes and adapt to the meeting’s conditions then and there.

There is nowhere to hide when you’re a leader; you have a responsibility to remain visible at all times. Being able to formulate appropriate answers in response to questions that catch you by surprise is all in a day’s work, and can prove to be the line between securing credibility and losing respect. Knowing how to take advantage of this exposure, and making it work in your favour, will benefit both you and your business.

The power to do something about it

To promote an agile mindset, you have to get used to not merely saying what you came to say, but rather, making a constant effort to adapt your delivery to benefit your message and your audience. At Potential Squared, we help people develop agility by using three different categories:

  • Professional – How much the other party values process and formality
  • Aesthetic – Using the appropriate look and feel: documentation, style, dress code
  • Human – Involved with establishing rapport and focusing on the quality of the relationship. For example, some clients prefer to know us personally and discuss social aspects before jumping into a work discussion.

In short, being agile is about being observant. By paying attention to subtle details and reacting accordingly, your actions can influence grand schemes with a minimum of effort and resources. Agility is the art of listening and understanding, and can play a pivotal role in the success of your business.