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Transitioning to Agile HR Leadership

Updated: Jan 2

Agility is an important concept in modern organizations. With the business environment growing every more volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA), successful leaders are required to be able to adapt quickly. In other words, leaders in the modern business environment need to be agile.

Applying Agility

The concept of agility is not new. Its foundation lies in the Agile Manifesto, which was created in 2001 as a way to improve the process of software development process through teamwork and adaptability. Since that time, agility has been applied to all aspects of organizations, including HR.

The Agile Mindset

Agile is more than an approach – it is a mindset. Professionals who have an agile mindset are:

  • Open and willing to change

  • Ready to adjust quickly and effectively

Those with an agile mindset do not:

  • Exhibit change resistance

  • Allow themselves to be limited by the ‘same old’ ways of doing things

Key Changes Required

The Agile Coaching Institute indicates that becoming agile requires shifting away from a traditional mindset in two key ways.

  • Mindset change 1: “Predict-and-Plan” (Traditional) to “Sense-and-Respond” (Agile) – This requires accepting that it isn’t possible to predict every outcome – there is no way to control for every variable, and causes and effects can’t always be discovered. Instead, we need to focus on what is happening now and with an eye to the future, and react in real time.

  • Mindset change 2: “Managing for Results” (Traditional) to “Designing Environments that Create Results” (Agile) – This requires moving away from emphasizing telling people everything to do through controlling and directing. Instead, agile HR leaders focus on creating a work environment that is conducive to results. It’s the difference in emphasizing compliance to cultivating commitment and engagement.

Agile in Action

Agile is a team-focused approach that emphasizes:

  • Stakeholder involvement

  • Collaboration

  • Openness & adaptability to change

  • Responsiveness to the need for change in real time

Key to Agile Leadership Success

Agility is increasingly emphasized in organizations of all sizes. Those who want to succeed in formal or informal leadership roles in the field of HR are well-served by learning how to become more agile. Their skills will be in demand for decades to come.

Ready for Agile HR Training?

Are you ready to become an agile HR leader? Contact us at or 423.380.8235 to find out how you can bring Inside Insights’ Agile HR How-To: Developing an Agile HR Strategy program to your company or association at any location in North America. Appropriate for sessions ranging from one hour to a half-day, this topic is a perfect for a workshop, retreat, professional development in-service, association meeting, conference presentation or webinar.

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