Organizations striving to grow and sustain their success in these dynamic times often try to identify the characteristics in their executives that will propel the enterprise toward its potential. The prevailing thought goes something like this: we want greater organizational agility so what does that look like in our key people? Fair question, but not likely to lead them where they want to go.

The challenge is Organizational Agility is an outcome we can measure organizationally not a personal characteristic. The executives can do a number of things to increase the organization’s agility but they themselves don’t exhibit it. This not so subtle distinction is important. Working with my London-based colleague, Kate Lye, we have tried to isolate the individual characteristics that lead to this organizational outcome. We are looking for partners to pilot our instrument. If you are interested in exploring the impact your executives have on your organization’s agility we’d like to hear from you.

There are three areas into which the key traits fall:

1)   Leadership Aptitude

  • Leadership – mobilizes people toward an uncertain future
  • Integrity – this is a deal killer – without this, it is unlikely the other traits will matter
  • Innovation – creates and drives “better ways to accomplish critical things.”

2)   Analytic Aptitude

  • Leadership Agility – flexibility and openness to new ideas, conflicting interpretations and disruptions
  • Results Orientation – drives execution and progress
  • Problem-solving/Decision-making – makes and drives decisions at the level as close to the work as possible

3)   People Aptitude

  • Change Management – supports self and people through change experience
  • Collaboration – seeks and engages partners and allies
  • Communication – fosters openness through effective messaging, listening and support

We too have wrestled with the individual/organizational distinction. In our efforts to develop a 360° feedback instrument we have divided the items between organizational and individual impacts. Our belief will require both levels of evidence to measure progress in the development of leadership practices and skills to lead more agile organizations. We hope you will join us in verifying the connection between the two.