The Agile Leader Book Summary - The Agile Leader Book explained in key points
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The Agile Leader summary

Simon Hayward

How to Create an Agile Business in the Digital Age

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21 mins
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    The Agile Leader
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    Agile leaders need to foster a sense of disruption and connection.

    What comes to mind when you think of agility? Perhaps a sports player streaking across the pitch, switching direction with ease. They are highly trained. Their reactions are lighting-fast. They respond to their opponent’s every move. And they don’t just defend their position, they attack too – with incredible precision.

    There’s a lot that today’s business leaders can learn from the agile athlete. As the sports player reacts to a shifting reality on the pitch, so the leader must respond to accelerating change in his industry. As the sportsman must have the strength to finely coordinate his entire body, so the leader must transform his whole organization, not just one part of it.

    The key message here is: Agile leaders need to foster a sense of disruption and connection.

    If you’re a business leader In our digital world, agility is crucial for you. This is because we’re now operating in what is known as a VUCA world. VUCA stands for volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. This world is never static – it’s always changing. Just think about all the internet-connected devices we have in our homes and offices. There are around 30 billion of them around the world. A few years ago most people couldn’t even imagine how vast this “internet of things” would become.

    To survive in this new world, leaders must stay connected – both to their customers, and to the social trends which drive those customers’ needs and expectations.

    Companies which can build this connection thrive. Take a look at traditional retailers that have paid attention to changing consumer trends. These companies have introduced online shopping with same-day delivery. Some offer break-through interfaces such as software which lets customers virtually try on clothes before purchasing. These retailers have stayed relevant and profitable, and have successfully moved to a digital business model.

    But in our VUCA world, business leaders can’t simply react to change – they need to drive it as well.

    This is disruption. It happens when companies and leaders rip up the rulebook. The risks are big for these pioneering leaders, but so are the rewards. Just consider Uber’s seismic shift of the global taxi industry. Its innovative app transformed and disrupted city travel.

    The most agile companies excel at both disruption and connection. Take Airbnb, the online marketplace for travel accommodation. Not only has this digital start-up permanently disrupted the hotel industry, but it’s achieved this by building a massive online community of hosts and travelers. This community spans nearly 200 countries. Think about this geographical spread. Doesn’t it sound like the very definition of connection?

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    What is The Agile Leader about?

    The Agile Leader (2018) explores how leaders can steer traditional organizations in the fast-paced digital world. These blinks show that agile working can help corporate teams to compete with start-ups, and to keep up with ever-changing customer expectations.

    Best quote from The Agile Leader

    The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.

    —Simon Hayward
    example alt text

    Who should read The Agile Leader?

    • Managers hoping to boost their team’s productivity
    • Entrepreneurs looking for a fresh perspective
    • Management consultants seeking new insights

    About the Author

    Dr Simon Hayward holds a doctorate in Business Administration from Alliance Manchester Business School. He is also a fellow of the Chartered Management Institute and a member of the British Academy of Management. Dr Hayward's first book, Connected Leadership: How to Build a More Agile, Customer-Driven Business, was the WHSmith Business Book of the Month in January 2016.


    © Simon Hayward, 2018. This Summary of The Agile Leader is published by arrangement with Kogan Page.

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