Agile leadership and the power of nudging

Old-fashioned leadership stands for inflexibility and authority. That hasn’t worked for a long time. What then? Agile leadership. That is so enormously important in a world that is changing rapidly and is becoming less predictable. What is that really, agile leadership? And how do you become that type of leader?

Resilience to change

The world is changing rapidly and continuously. This sounds like a huge open door, but it demands a lot from organizations. They must be able to respond in a timely manner to successive changes and sudden interruptions. They must prepare for this and adapt in time. Is an organization not doing this in a timely and good enough manner?
Then there is even the risk that it is the end of the game.
. Just look at Kodak. This is an important task for managers and team leaders. Because do they have the resilience to change? And the capacities to take employees along in the change?

Characteristics of resilient leadership

A good leader keeps calm and gives direction to the change. Resilient leadership requires:

  1. a. Improvisational ability

A leader responds to the situation at hand. He is able to improvise without losing sight of the goal.

  1. b. Creativity

Does he not see new opportunities so quickly? Then he has the creativity to continue looking for pragmatic solutions, using the talents of his employees.

  1. c. Self-confidence

A resilient leader knows himself and knows the possibilities and impossibilities. Self-reflection is indispensable here. He has the capacity to learn from past experiences and from mistakes made. And he’s not afraid to show his vulnerability either.

  1. d. Adaptability and Learning Capacity

A resilient leader has an eye for change and how best to adapt the organization to it. A resilient leader evaluates and brings learning points into focus. And ensures that the learning points are implemented in the new working methods.

  1. e. Optimism and realism

A resilient leader is optimistic and realistic. Optimism is important, but it is imperative that the leader offers his team realistic opportunities and challenges.

Why is change so difficult?

Organizations and employees must therefore continually change. It’s not easy, because we humans don’t like change. That has everything to do with having to adjust behavior. Our brain likes to achieve something with as little effort as possible. Moreover, change is accompanied by discomfort or even fear of making mistakes. In short: laziness and uncertainty play tricks on us.

Get your employees on board with nudging

The key question is therefore: how do you get your employees to go along with a change? It’s best to give them a subconscious nudge. This is called nudging, a behavioural psychological motivation technique that you use to subtly nudge employees in the desired direction. You appeal to people’s subconscious. This is in line with the knowledge that people make their choices subconsciously for about 80%. That’s why it works so poorly to convince people with rational arguments. As a manager or team leader, it is therefore worthwhile to immerse yourself in the effects of nudging. Because how nice would it be to manage employees without telling them what they should do?

Examples of nudging

The classic example of nudging is the fly in the urinal for men. This ensures that men are less likely to ‘piss next to the pot’. Another example: do you want to promote healthy eating as a company? Then place this at eye level in the company canteen. Would you like employees to eat less at lunch? Google solved this by placing a sign next to the small boards: ’66 percent of your colleagues use the small board’. And would you like people to take the stairs more often? Place the stairs in a visible location and hide the elevator from view. Or hang a sign at the elevator saying that you burn 11 times as many calories by climbing stairs.

How do you remain resilient as a human being?

Every person has a certain resilience: the ability to adapt to stress and setbacks. And the ability to continue to grow as a person. Resilience is about wellbeing. In our view, every employee also has a responsibility for his or her own well-being. We use the 7 domains of resilience (see also figure 1 below). These are seven areas that affect personal well-being: the spiritual area, the emotional area, the intellectual area, the physical areas of concern, the social area, the environment and keeping a grip on finances. Those who are in balance are more pleasant and balanced colleagues. And in doing so, strengthens the rest of the team. In
This blog
I already wrote about the value of the 7 resilience domains for an organisation.

Read more about resilience in the workplace.

Resilience model

Figure 1 Domains of resilience

Value-creating leadership

What organisations need above all is value-creating leadership. Important in a world where economic prosperity can come at the expense of people and the environment. Value-creating leadership is about balancing economic, environmental and social values. This requires a different way of thinking and acting. And it places different, more complex demands on leaders. It requires them to look beyond profit maximization. They give direction, (re)define values and principles and create sustainable value. In
this blog
I already wrote extensively about value-creating leadership. Value-creating leadership is not tied to a formal role or position. Anyone can take on a leadership role.

Read more about leadership in the economy of value

Rainbow model

How to achieve value-creating leadership as an organisation and as a leader? We developed the Rainbow Model for this purpose. Applying this stimulates effective leadership in the right phase and in the right place. The model makes it clear that multiple value creation requires leadership at various levels. At micro level (personality traits), meso level (the functioning of the team) and macro level (being able to lead social developments).

Read more about value creating leadership

Do you want to know more about value creating leadership? Download the e-book ‘Leadership in the economy of value’. Or
click here
for our leadership training courses.

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dr. Pim Valentijn

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