The 3Cs of Agile Leadership

Blog post
By Pam Ashby | 8 December 2017

When Professor Chris Roebuck spoke about his I CARE Leadership approach at the 2017 Agile Business Conference, he made firm connections between his core principle that the ‘best boss’ is the one that cares and the nine Agile leadership principles outlined by the Agile Business Consortium. For him, it’s clear that these principles offer a holistic approach to make things happen, through communication, commitment and collaboration.

This table show the 3C's of Agile Leadership













Under 30% of the Workforce is Engaged

Gallup has been measuring employee engagement for nearly two decades and has highlighted that approximately only 30% of people are engaged at work. Clearly something has to change.

Professor Roebuck explains, “What does this mean in practical terms? That 70% or more of employees don’t genuinely care about the success of their organisation. If you try to get things to happen in that environment there is only a 30% chance of success. So the first vital  step is to increase the chances of success by improving leadership before trying to launch critical initiatives. Once leadership is better they are more likely to be successful.” 

Focus on the Emotional Relationship

“Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.”

Aristotle 385 – 322 BC

In his talk, Chris emphasised that the main role of a leader is to “inspire people to give their best”. He continues, “What humans want from work hasn’t changed since the time of Aristotle – to do their best and grow and develop. The emotional relationship is what powers people giving their best not just telling them to do the job.”

He describes how relationships are based on reciprocation. How we tend to respond to negativity with negativity, positivity with positivity, so knowing your boss has your interests at heart creates the neurochemical oxytocin, which makes us feel good and more enthusiastic to give our best and collaborate with others. This is why his I CARE leadership mindset produces measurable bottom-line improvements for organisations. “We over focus on the rational,” he states, “Yes the rational starts the process but as we are emotional beings its emotion – inspiration and trust in particular - that gets the best from us. That’s driven by our subconscious.”

 For Chris leadership is in principle quite simple. He points out three simple steps:

  1. Firm foundation – basic task management capability
  2. Get the best from everyone, so that they care – trust and inspiration
  3. Focus on what delivers success – understanding and alignment

The 3Cs of Agile Leadership provide a framework for doing this.

Results on the Bottom-Line

In today’s highly competitive business world, it’s not enough to move forward on the assumption that progress is being made. An Agile approach demands frequent tests and measures to evaluate the quality of progress, and Chris’ research offers up the evidence of proven success from I CARE Leadership:

Companies with high engagement

  • can produce an earnings-per-share 2.6 times higher than competitors with low engagement (Gallup)
  • could increase revenue by up to 43% (Hay)
  • Bank branches with high employee engagement achieved 16% higher profit margin growth than those with lower scores (Standard Chartered)
  • Accenture managed to increase net revenue by 21.6% in 6 months by implementing an engagement initiative
  • Companies with high engagement scores improved operating income by 19.2% compared to a decline of 32.7% in those with low scores in a 12 month period (Towers Perrin)
  • High engagement can halve days lost though sickness (CBI)
  • High engagement can reduce risk of talent loss by 987% (Corporate Exec Board)

Chris sums up his approach to leadership as “Building an aligned community of effort and collaboration focused on effectively delivering excellence to customers via capable people who CARE.”

The 3Cs of Communication, Commitment and Collaboration lead the way.

Professor Chris Roebuck was a keynote speaker at the Agile Business Conference 2017. He is Visiting Professor of Transformational Leadership at Cass Business School.


More on Communication, Commitment and Collaboration

Images created by Stuart Young of Radtac


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