Agile organizations rely on an innovative mix of stable and dynamic elements to bring planning up to speed with their fast-paced needs. These organizations need agile leaders to drive the required elements. Agile leaders are those who are resilient during the inevitable changes found in life and business. They make decisions quickly and demonstrate a natural ability to coach others. Their relationships are built on trust, guidance and inspiration. Agility includes the ability to see an organization as a whole while also translating experiences into clear and specific actions to take. Leaders who have these qualities and management styles bring positivity and success to the workplace. There are clear consequences for organizations that do not embrace a culture of agility while also developing agile leaders within their ranks.
In their State of the American Workforce report, Gallup defines engaged employees as those who are aligned with company goals and enthusiastic about contributing their efforts to achieve those goals. Additionally, the increasing rate of change, disruption, and technology advancement in most industries have driven the need for leaders to think and lead differently.
Today’s workplace is being reshaped by a workforce with an evolving mindset that prioritizes life ahead of work and a need to feel a personal connection to their daily business activities in order to feel personally fulfilled. Jobs are abundant and people are leaving jobs for numerous reasons, including lack of career growth opportunities, dissatisfaction with their direct manager, company culture and overall job fit. In other words, human and professional needs are rising to the top of employee demands in the workplace. When these needs are not met, people tend to disengage from the company and show up only out of obligation to their basic physiological and safety needs not out of any loyalty to the company mission. When this happens, the results can be disastrous for companies of every size and in every industry.
The Consequences of Disengagement
Organizations can fail to create an inspirational and engaging workplace in a variety of ways, including treating employee engagement as an exercise or task to complete rather than a foundational component of the company’s overall business objective. Engagement exercises that are periodically foisted upon employees are patronizing at best and don’t affect the day-to-day experience of any individual. Instead, companies must create genuine satisfaction and inspiration in the workplace.
According to Gallup, failing to create an environment where genuine satisfaction and inspiration can emerge will harm business outcomes in every area. Those companies which scored in Gallup’s top quartile of employee engagement also achieved:
- 41% lower absenteeism
- 24% reduction in turnover for high-turnover industries
- 59% reduction in turnover for low-turnover industries
- 70% fewer safety incidents
- 58% fewer patient safety incidents
- 10% increase in customer metrics
- 17% increase in productivity
- 20% boost in sales
- 21% increase in profitability
Organizations who achieve high levels of engagement can differentiate themselves from the competition. They become a destination employer while also achieving overall business success.
Agile Leaders Cultivate Engagement
If we look at what people need to feel sincerely engaged at work and compare that to the qualities of agile leadership, it becomes clear that agile leaders are directly responsible for cultivating engagement in organizations of any industry.
In measuring engagement, Gallup examines 12 fundamental elements. Let’s compare a few of those elements and how agile leaders contribute to positive outcomes.
- I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day. Agile leaders go beyond delegating tasks. They have a holistic view of organizations and projects and a strong desire for their team to succeed. This makes room for high potential talent to flourish.
- I have received recognition or praise for good work in the last seven days. Agile leaders have a natural aptitude to coach others. This is more than just training exercises and keeping tabs on deadlines and delves deep into what really motivates people to do their best. It means having development discussions, not simply annual performance reviews.
- My supervisor seems to care about me as a person. Agile leaders develop relationships built on guidance, trust and inspiration. None of these can be achieved without a genuine curiosity and an intentional focus on people development. Agile leaders become talent magnets.
- There is someone at work who encourages my development. Agile leaders aren’t worried about team members stepping on their toes or outshining them with accomplishments. Agile leaders include team members in decisions and allow people to learn from failure. Agile leaders inspire others take risks and leverage their strengths. They also create followership.
These are just a few elements, but the connection is clear. Without leaders who have the skills and natural ability to create positive work environments and nurture both the individual and the team as a whole, the entire company stands to lose in terms of business outcomes. Agile leaders and their engaged and loyal employees are the engines that propel companies to great heights. Creating an environment where inclusiveness, innovation, energy and positivity are part of the day-to-day experiences of employees is not optional; it is critical to long-term success, growth, and viability of an organization.
The End Goal: Positive Outcomes
Organizations that focus on treating employees as valuable stakeholders and show a real interest in a person’s professional growth and personal satisfaction improve business performances across the board. Better retention rates, higher productivity, greater efficiency, and overall better financial performance is only the beginning.
The consequence of foregoing agile leadership is obsolescence in nearly every other aspect of business. Is your organization positioned for success? Learn more about the qualities to look for during the hiring process and develop by downloading our free white paper, The Six Qualities of Agile Leaders.