Agility for the Long Term

Viewed in Heidrick & Struggles

It is not particularly common to see over ninety percent of executives agree on anything these days.

Need for Agility

But such consensus does exist on one perceived business necessity: the need for agility in business management. Heidrick & Struggles, the Chicago-headquartered executive search giant, surveyed executives and found, in this recent April 13, 2021 report, that 93 percent of executives contend that agility is critical to business strategy with even more, 94 percent, saying it is critical to “new ways of working.”

New Ways of Working
But which employees best reflect agility as a key functional attribute? On this issue, consensus breaks down and plenty of questions exist.  In fact, Heidrick & Struggles found that under half of senior leaders feel they can accurately identify employees who possess agility as a key attribute.
Foresight, Learning, Adaptability and Resilience

This study adds value in providing a definitive definition of how we might define this attribute in the 21st century: “…the ability to pivot quickly with an open, flexible mindset to be able to respond rapidly, in real time, to changing conditions.” Four core attributes are at the foundation of agility, this study concludes: foresight, learning, adaptability, and resilience.

Social Agility, Tenacity or Curiosity

An assessment of leaders’ agility reflects average performance in some components of agility capability; others reflect more poorly. This study finds that 41 percent demonstrate traits of social agility, 29 percent demonstrate traits of tenacity, ten percent demonstrate traits of curiosity, and a mere eight percent—the largest agility deficiency—demonstrate traits of thinking dexterity.

Encourage Cultural Shift

The challenge of promoting agility now requires a conscious and pro-active focus from executives, the study’s authors conclude. That means communicating openly about the importance of this attribute and shifting company culture in ways that encourage it followed by operational steps that develop, support, and measure agility as a core attribute necessary for success in the contemporary business environment.

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