White Paper: Leadership Agility - A Global Imperative

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.

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Bill Joiner

Bill Joiner

Global Thought-Leader on Leadership Agility, ChangeWise

Bill is CEO of ChangeWise, a forward-looking consulting firm focusing on leadership, team, and organizational agility. He is also the co-author of the award-winning book, Leadership Agility - and numerous articles on the topic. He has over 30 years experience completing successful organizational change, senior team development, leadership development, and executive coaching projects for companies in a wide variety of industries. Many high-profile clients, including companies of all sizes.


ChangeWise is a Boston-based leadership and organization development firm with an extensive network of global affiliates which allows us to flexibly scale client projects. We have a 30+ year track record helping leaders and their organizations design and expedite important changes, while improving their capacity to lead future change. We provide consulting, coaching, training, and facilitation services that assist leaders in developing agile executive teams and leadership cultures, creating breakthrough business and operational strategies, rapidly redesigning business processes, and developing cadres of high-potential leaders.


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