The Triple R’s of Agile Leadership

“You can never step in the same stream twice”, so the old saying of Heraclitus goes. So too, how workplaces conduct business and do their work has changed completely – and will probably never return to the way things were pre-COVID. To thrive in this post-COVID global reset, workplaces more than ever, need leaders with new mindsets who practice a rebranded 3-Rs – they need to be Resilient, Responsive and Ready.

resilient leadership concept

Resilience is surely one of the most tried-and-tested attributes leaders need to have. It means having the reserves of energy and stamina to bounce back from and forward into changes, challenges, setbacks and failures.

  • In a world brim-full of discontinuous change and constant disruption, successful leaders and teams know and understand the terrain of new regulations, international pressures, economic downturns and business interruptions – and they’ve learned how often success stems from inevitable failures sometimes.
  • Resilient leaders can detach and separate themselves from the events of their days, absorb and rebalance from the emotional impacts, and maintain the energy to see whatever events that happen, as useful information to store away and learn from next time.
  • This helps them to not judge or get distracted by challenges or failures, and instead wisely, calmly, and intentionally learn from them. They readjust, rethink, and respond (is that another 3Rs?). This is the essence of any learning organisation.
  • Leaders and teams lacking resilience are constantly impacted by events that manifest in symptoms like inaction and immobility, turning down challenges, taking safe and too cautious a path, in order to avoid risk, failure and burn-out.

Resilience can’t happen without working through adversity. Every time you face hard times it’s an opportunity for leaders to strengthen their resolve, determination and perseverance and grow yourself and your team. As Winston Churchill said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.”

responsive leadership

Responsive: means being purposeful, deliberate and intentional in terms of how you respond to and process new developments and happenstances and act on them or not.

  • Reactive leaders ‘zig-and-zag’ – making knee-jerk decisions based on hard-to-break habits, little or limited information, tacit assumptions and old ways of thinking and acting that used to work but may increasingly not now

  • How leaders act in a crisis acts as a model for others around them. People watch how they comport themselves and how composed they are. If you vacillate, defer, side-step or procrastinate, you teach a lesson about ‘inactive’ leadership. If you display balance, judgement, integrity and resolve, they learn those resilience lessons instead.

  • Jackie Jenkins-Scott in The 7 Secrets of Responsive Leadership describes how they do things like take advantage of opportunity, lead with heart, be interconnected with people, recover quickly and keep their bags packed.

But to do this proficiently, they need to be tuned in to what’s going on around them in any given situation – the future trends and factors affecting their strategic decisions – so they can adapt and pivot in the right directions. Which leads us to our last ‘R’…

ready to respond quickly

‘Ready’ is about situational awareness. It involves cultivating the capacity to assess situations and be able to act rapidly and deliberately – to expect the unexpected and be prepared to deal with it in a focused way, even if you don’t know what it is exactly.

  • Being ready gives people the best chance to ride out a storm, stay together and find resilience in the face of hardship.
  • Leaders who are ready have trained-up their teams to deal with unexpected events. They can quickly clarify where they need to go, convert information into action, and back it up with purpose so it makes tactical or strategic sense.
  • They have change processes in place that enable people to discuss a change efficiently, talk-over new options and take action with agility.

For any workplace, the triple R’s translate into a culture that is responsive, resilient, and ready to act quickly in the face of change and uncertainty.

The Change Forum runs coaching clinics for leaders and teams on Resilient Leadership, Building Resilience at Work and Trauma First-Aid, Self-Help & Support on-location, live on-line and in-house, each with a unique pocket-guide offering tips and tools on ways to re-charge yourself and also boost your team’s reserves of resilience to rise above setbacks, resist stress and remain more emotionally balanced, fit and functional. See our course calendar for scheduled sessions or get in touch to arrange for clinics delivered in-house.

Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top