Agility – A “Must Have” for All Leaders

I was travelling in the USA in March this year and visited a large educational institution. They have recently revamped a range of courses to improve the “agility” of leaders that they are training.   They see agility as a “must-have” for leaders in the coming decades.  

I was also reading some thoughts from Lee Colan in relation to “agility.”  He says “your agility is a primary competitive advantage.” 

Being agile means being quick–responding to things quickly and acting quickly. Agility is a trait of successful leader. Not surprisingly, it’s also a trait of a successful team. It becomes particularly valuable in times of change and uncertainty.

The growing, urban sport of Parkour places a premium on the agility.

Even though your job might not require you to jump over cars or scale walls, the professional leader needs all the agility of a professional athlete. Here are the key characteristics of agility: flexibility, strength, and speed.

1.  Flexibility

Stretch your mind to learn new skills and explore new knowledge and approaches. Your life is your own workout gym, where you can build leadership flexibility. Just watch the people around you. Look for nuggets of excellence from a family member, a minister, a speaker at a professional meeting, a fellow leader, your child’s school principal, or a particularly helpful salesperson at a local department store. Observe, read, ask, listen and learn.

There are also lessons to be learned in everything your team does. Look for opportunities in post-project reviews, customer meetings, conflicts with other departments, changes in priorities, miscommunications, and mistakes. Seize all these experiences to build flexibility into future approaches.

2.  Strength

Hone existing skills and deepen existing knowledge. This might be core training for the professional athlete, but for the professional leader it’s building your core competence. Regardless of the whirlwind of changing circumstances around you, continue strengthening what you and your team are the very best at. Don’t paint stripes on your back if you are not a zebra. Strengthening your core competence builds confidence. Confidence is critical if you expect your team to blow through barriers or leap unforeseen obstacles.

3.  Speed

The quickest way to improve your leadership speed is to quit analyzing and follow your intuition. The business management guru Tom Peters called intuition our greatest gift. It’s the feeling we get when what we are seeing doesn’t match up with the facts we think we know; it’s the sudden move we make without thinking that saves us from disaster; it’s the voice that tells us the truth rather than what we would like to hear.

 Intuition is the ability to make quick and sound decisions based on available information.

The agile leader builds an agile team. A team for whom no obstacle is too big. A team who identifies creative solutions to leap over tall obstacles. A team that is hard to beat.

No ATO Appeal on PBI Status

This is good news for the charity sector.

The Australian Tax Office has decided not to appeal a Federal Court decision giving national Not for Profit, the Hunger Project, Public Benevolent Institution status – paving the way for more charities to access the fundraising status.

This means that more charitable entities that primarily fundraise for the relief of poverty, sickness, destitution and helplessness may be entitled to obtain endorsement as a Deductible Gift Recipient, or gain access to an exemption from fringe benefits tax. 

See more in this article.


Change your Mind to Change your World.

People are very complex beings.  I really enjoy working with people.

I have a few keys that help me understand human behaviour.  One of them is the power of the mind, and my responsibility to manage what goes on between my ears.

I have found many people who believe strongly in something, but then behave in the exact opposite way. This is because they have allowed a stronghold to develop in their mind that is different to the conviction in their inner-world.

The strongholds (good and bad) in my mind have been built one brick at a time. I allow thoughts to stack up my mind. I allow a stronghold or mindset to develop, which affects my behaviour despite what I believe.

A stronghold is a mindset, a powerbase, an attitude and a thought habit. A stronghold is:

  • A thought commitment to a course of action.
  • A thought habit producing instinctive behaviour
  • An attitude that dominates your emotions
  • A mindset that overrides reason
  • Something that has a strong hold on you.

Strongholds (good and bad) may or may not be built on a conviction in your inner world. Strongholds not built on a conviction are simply examples of positive or negative thinking. Convictions determine your believing, while strongholds determine your behaving.

You can change your mind to change your world.

7 Unchangeable Rules of Change

Reflecting today on some writings by Gene Appel as I work with a new batch of clients.


Mark them well. In forty thousand years, they have not changed one iota:

1. People do what they perceive is in their best interest, thinking as rationally as circumstances allow them to think.

2. People are not inherently antichange. Most will, in fact, embrace initiatives provided the change has positive meaning for them.

3. People thrive under creative challenge but wilt under negative stress.

4. People are different. No single “elegant solution” will address the entire breadth of these differences.

5. People believe what they see. Actions do speak louder than words, and a history of previous deception octuples present suspicion.

6. The way to make effective long-term change is to first visualize what you want to accomplish and then inhabit this vision until it comes true.

7. Change is an act of the imagination. Until the imagination is engaged, no important change can occur

Skills OR Competencies….What’s the Difference?

As I coach people I often conduct a range of assessments to help them identify “where they are at” now and start to map out a journey to strengthen some key areas.

Often a discussion will involve “skills” and “competencies” – there are ways to strengthen both.

So, what is the difference between skills and competencies? 

Let’s look at communication as an example.  A person can become a good presenter through practice, learning from others, and education but in order to be a strong communicator one must rely on a combination of skills PLUS behaviour and knowledge.

A person can learn how to be a good presenter but only a strong communicator has advanced language skills, the knowledge of diverse cultures, and behaves patiently when communicating.

In short, skills are specific learned activities like mopping the floor, using a computer, and stocking merchandise, while competencies are skills + knowledge  + behaviour like problem solving, communication, or professionalism.

Competencies effectively fall in 3 groups:

  • Behavioural (or Life Skills) Competencies        Life skills are problem-solving behaviours used appropriately and responsibly in the management of personal affairs.  They are a set of human skills acquired via teaching or direct experience that are used to handle problems and questions commonly encountered in daily human life.  Examples are: Communication, Analytical Ability, Problem Solving, Initiative, etc.
  • Functional (or Technical) Competencies          Functional Competencies relate to functions, processes, and roles within the organisation and include the knowledge of, and skill in the exercise of, practices required for successful accomplishment of a specific job or task.  Examples are: Application Systems Development, Networking and Communication, Database Analysis and Design, etc.
  • Professional Competencies                Professional competencies are competencies that allow for success in an organisational context.  They are the accelerators of performance or – if lacking in sufficient strength and quality – are the reason people fail to excel in jobs.  Examples are: Business Environment, Industry and Professional Standards, Negotiation, People Management, etc.

The Use of Questions in Supervision

Supervision - circular process

Questions are a key part of quality supervision.

Through the process of supervision the supervisee is given the opportunity to reconstruct their view of a particular issue or difficulty. This is achieved by the supervisor asking them questions to try to help them see things from different perspectives and in different contexts.

To help people come to conclusions and solutions under their own steam, the supervisor may wish to refrain from giving any advice until towards the end of the supervision conversation. However, this does not mean that they should not tell a supervisee what to do, especially within an urgent setting, often clinical.

(Diagram source –  London Deanery 2012)