Companies today face the challenges of VUCA, increasing digitalization, globalization and new value networks. Connectivity and ambiguity are on the rise, complexity and the rate of change are increasing – and plannability is decreasing.
Routine, security and orientation are dwindling, which has a lasting effect on the performance of the teams and thus on the entire organization. What companies need now are clear leadership, participation and empowered employees.

In the past (1970/80s), companies were stable in a relatively »manageable« market and often still operated according to the hierarchical principle of »order and command«. Activities were carried out in a classical, stable organization. Today, this is different. The cultural drivers of digitalization and globalization are leading to deep, sometimes disruptive changes in the market and within companies. They require individualized customer solutions far away from standards, in ever shorter and faster cycles. This goes hand in hand with intensified competition and increasing cost pressure. All this requires a new understanding and a new way of leadership and collaboration. It is therefore both a challenge and an art to combine both the stable and the new, agile areas within the company.

Agility as a current challenge

The agile approach (SCRUM & Co.) increases the number of feedback cycles in the company and places completely new demands on the employees. Old certainties no longer count; previous competencies become superfluous, established routines meaningless. And this does not only mean learning a new method. Rather, it is a principally different approach, with a different attitude (mindset).

Modern understanding of leadership in agile contexts

Leadership becomes one of the strongest levers: it moves away from traditional disciplinary responsibility and hierarchy and needs to develop in the direction of self-responsibility and flexibility. The manager becomes a coach and enabler for the employees. What is necessary for this? The manager himself must have developed inner maturity. Leaders who want to mobilize employees for agility and welcome new challenges must first be able to lead themselves and act emotionally competent.

Change is a journey

Getting involved in the adventure of agility requires courage and perseverance. Courage to venture into unknown territory. And perseverance and discipline to resist the urge to turn back when problems arise – which is usually no longer possible anyway. But how can I inspire my team for this journey?

Three steps on the way to successful change

Step 1: Clear understanding in the management team

Even in uncertain and rapidly changing times, the top management of an organization must be able to clearly show what it wants and in which direction it should go for the company. Not every step, but the direction must be clear, so that the leaders can give orientation to the team. And above all, leaders must take a united approach and take courageous steps. Nothing is worse for a transformation than a fickle, divided or hesitant management.

Step 2: Exploring and participation

Even today, many companies are still classically structured according to the principle of the pyramid, which becomes wider and wider from the top. The management is at the top, the personnel at the bottom. »Exploring and participation« means involving people at the grassroots level. Employees want to feel integrated, be allowed to participate and experience themselves as competent. With this participation, companies are able to mobilize people, use resources and jointly master new paths.

Step 3: Empowering people

Orientation given by the management and employee participation alone are often not enough: people need to be empowered for the new challenges. What skills are needed to be productive in the new world? What knowledge, what skills – but above all what attitude is needed? On the basis of these questions, specific measures for empowerment can be taken.

For each step the right mindset, the right attitude is necessary.

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