Leadership Agility: A Global Imperative
Business leaders recognize organizational agility is critical to success, but how are they developing this vital capacity? Bill Joiner examines how the leadership culture plays a key role in determining a company’s agility.
In the global business context, there is, most definitely, a “return on agility”. When international studies are considered– a combination of survey research, executive interviews, case studies and financial analyses – it’s there in black and white: organizational agility leads to higher business performance. In fact, given the broad range of factors that can affect business success, it is striking how closely agility is linked to performance.
The return on agility
According to a global survey conducted by the UK magazine, The Economist, nine out of 10 executives believe organizational agility is critical to business success. This finding echoes that of a previous survey conducted by McKinsey (2010). The McKinsey study also found that executives around the world believe that, in the 21st century’s turbulent business environment, agility results in faster time to market, improved operating efficiency, more satisfied customers and employees, as well as higher revenues.
These executives are onto something. A detailed international study sponsored by the American Management Association (AMA) also came up with two findings especially worth noting. While environmental turbulence makes it more difficult to compete and grow profits, companies with higher levels of agility have a distinct competitive advantage that leads to higher profitability. The AMA study found that organizational “resilience”, a related adaptive capacity, which correlates highly with agility, contributes significantly to business performance in turbulent environments. Resilience, as defined in this study, refers to an organization’s ability to resist, absorb, and respond to highly disruptive changes.
Challenging the assumption that “agile government agency” is an oxymoron, a global study conducted by AT Kearney and the London School of Economics discovered that in the agile agencies they identified, productivity was 53% higher, employee satisfaction 38% higher, and customer (citizen) satisfaction 31% more than less agile agencies.