‘Anticipate change, lead with focus’ is the theme of a seminar that I recently organized in my neighborhood. The information super highway time that we now live in is filled with too many noisy and dirty data that can easily sway feeble minded leaders – especially when the leaders are not data driven leaders who have mastered the art and science of making sense out of big data (clean or dirty).
It is important for leaders to be focused, yet agile enough to swiftly respond to trends and take advantage of situations. ‘Focused Agility’ is the keyword here.
A leader risks losing out of opportunities if they don’t combine the benefits of both being proactive and reactive.
Let’s face it, we live in a world that is characterized by numerous changes happening on a daily basis. Think of when we were young and what we now see around us. I recently visited my childhood neighborhood and barely recognize the place.
The proponents of artificial intelligence (AI) for example constantly anticipate multiple changes and yet focused enough to achieve their objective.
Changes standing between the starting point of a journey and the end product(s) come in various forms. They sometimes come in form of challenges that we need to overcome in order for us to get to our desired destination.
Successful leaders and modern-day managers anticipate changes while remaining focused by surrounding themselves with smart intelligent people. This is what I call “Guided Focused Agility”.
Characteristics of an apostle of focused agility
- Ability to hold on a bit longer: the temptation to just look the other way is too much nowadays. You need to have that fighting spirit of holding on for a while but must know when to let go.
- Constant learning: if there is one most important attribute or characteristic of someone who is agile yet focused, it is the ability to continuously learn at the speed of light.
- Being open to changes: you must be open to changes if you are to succeed in the era of focused agility.
- Willing to try new things: generation next leaders are not shy of getting their hands dirty with new things. In fact, you will be a better dynamic leader if you are an advocate of new things.
- Getting things right the first time: one of the key pillars of lean six sigma is that every process must be got right the first time. You will quickly move on to other things because you don’t have to repeat an already concluded process. Repeat work makes one take eyes off the goal while driving towards that goal – this can only lead to disaster.
- Being customer focused: the customers were kings, are still kings, and will remain kings. Take it or leave it, all efforts are wasted if the end product of what we come up with are not appealing to the customers. While we are being focused and at the same time being on the look out for changes that we can leverage on, customers care activities must be given utmost attention.
- Not afraid to retrace our steps when we make mistakes: one rare virtue of successful leaders is the ability to realize when an action is off the path to the desired goal and retrace swiftly. The trajectory of many outstanding breakthrough that we are all enjoying now were never linear. We must not allow ourselves get consumed into the cause that we believe in at the expense of sacrificing the overall long-term goal of a business.
- Data oriented in decision making: data is the undisputed new currency of the modern day world, ignore it at your own peril. Very few decisions will ever go wrong with the right kind of data.
- Being scientific: the mindset of scientist is needed for any meaningful stint at becoming a leader with focused agile characteristics.
It has to be said that gone are the days when it is enough for one to just be focused to a cause and be rest assured of success. In today’s world of numerous disruptive events happening, being rigidly focused can cost an organization a fortune. Focused agility is the way to go, embrace it now while there is still time.