Being a Flexible Leader

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Flexibility is an increasingly essential trait in a fast-changing social and economic environment. Flexible leaders can modify their style or approach to leadership in response to unpredictable or uncertain circumstances. Resilient leaders will adapt to changes as they arise. They can change their plans to incorporate innovations and overcome challenges while still accomplishing their goals. Flexibility is not only about thriving and surviving in new situations. Adaptable leaders can also implement new habits into old, existing conditions. This enables them to display creativity in their work and find new ways to solve problems. Flexibility is the eagerness to try new behaviors, regardless of whether one is currently experiencing a time of change in their company.

Just being open to new ways is not all it takes to make a practical, flexible leader. First, leaders need to acknowledge situations in which their old practices are not working. Next, they need to decide how to address the problem, including what new behaviors or approaches are feasible and what will accomplish their goals within the constraints of their situation. Once an original path is decided on, flexible leaders need to evaluate the recent success and progress of their new behaviors and re-evaluate or further transform unsuccessful practices.

Here are ten ways to increase your level of flexibility:

  1. Diagnose Before Responding – Make sure you take the time to review the task, the needs of the situation, and the skills of the individuals included. Then, pick the best way to respond to each one.
  2. Take Time Out – Step back from your work and evaluate your strategy to leading your team. Do you think that you are using your time well and that people are dedicated to your mission? If the answer is “no,” stop and execute some adjustments to your methods.
  3. Planning Ahead – Schedule out time to construct your plan and express your vision to the team. Figure out which areas would benefit from your team members regarding greater responsibility, and then help them set specific goals associated with their areas of participation.
  4. Clarifying Expectations – Regularly assess expectations with your team members. Be transparent about what you expect from them in terms of performance and behavior and ask them what they need from you.
  5. Select the Right People – Form a team of talented and reliable individuals.  Mutual respect and trust is imperative!  Recognize their knowledge, abilities, and skills, and then put those assets to work.
  6. Ask for Feedback – Ask the members of your team if they believe that their talents and skills are being put to good use and what you could do differently to allow them to perform at their peak.
  7. Build Allies Within Your Group – Recognize others in the organization who are influenced by the work of your team. Build robust relationships with those who can help, mentor, and support you in your efforts.
  8. Sharpen Your Facilitation Skills – Strengthen your ability to handle conflict and attain consensus in a group environment. Learn how to direct the group’s attention to the matters at hand and lead them to a mutual agreement.
  9. Manage Your Time Effectively – Anticipate possible scenarios and get working on projects early. Provide enough time for you and your team to experiment, learn, and problem-solve together.
  10. Help Others Set Goals – Guarantee that your team’s individual goals distinctly support the overall vision. Goals should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Aligned, Realistic, and Time-bound.

One final thought.  It may be quite uncomfortable for many to make quick decisions and act on them immediately.  The fear of “being wrong” or “making a mistake” can paralyze action.  In today’s climate, leaders must be fearless in quickly developing a game plan, acting on it, and then constantly evaluating if it was the “right” decision.  Act quickly, monitor closely, and be prepared to change your direction on a dime.  This is how you’ll not only survive, but thrive, during this time!

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