Guest Contributor

How Flexible Leadership Empowers an Agile Workforce

By | Charlie Fletcher

Business owners acknowledge that change is the only constant they can count on in their workforce, operation, and industry. So, companies need to hire leaders that effectively adapt to change.

The relationship between flexible leadership and a truly agile workforce influences the success of any business. Flexible leadership prioritizes innovation, an in-depth decision-making process, and co-creating knowledge, especially in the digital age. How can leaders further promote agility and productivity in their team through their leadership style?

Let’s first discuss how important flexibility is in management. Then we’ll tackle four ways you can be flexible to ensure you’re supporting your team members and fostering an agile workplace through leadership.

The Importance of Flexibility in Leadership

“Do we need to be together, in an office, to do our work?” The Work Anywhere (WFA) revolution says no. People worldwide are experiencing how productive and happier they are when they have more control over their work. Flexible leadership acknowledges this growing pool of workers as the future of workforces everywhere.  

Successfully adapting to workers’ new values like the one above depends on how flexible, open-minded, and accepting you are. Employees report better productivity, engagement, and satisfaction with their work when they’re led by people who can adapt.

Flexible leadership fosters an inclusive and diverse workplace. Leveraging the different skill levels, interests, talents, and backgrounds of each of your employees honors the importance of collaboration, communication, and compromise in business success.

Four Ways Leaders Can be Flexible to Support Their Team

Flexible leaders are intentionally creative when solving problems, willing to change any counterproductive behaviors, and open to advice. Here are four ways you can be flexible to support your team and be the best leader to each member.

Give employees a choice of where and when they work

From baby boomers to millennials, each generation has its unique needs regarding leadership. Millennials value the option to work from anywhere, personal development, and career advancement opportunities. Baby boomers love a traditional schedule and autonomous job responsibilities.

Flexible leadership accommodates all workers’ needs to ensure each is empowered to produce at a high level.

Also, give employees the option of working from home or on a hybrid schedule. When they come into the office, promote productivity and comfort with an office design that includes quiet spaces, versatile seating, open floor plans, and standing workstations. Encourage employees working from home to designate a productive space as well to ensure consistent productivity. 

Delegate tasks based on interest, talent, and skill level

All leaders have dealt with the pressure of delegating tasks effectively. When assignments aren’t given to the right workers to complete, it results in time wasted micro-managing and producing low-quality projects, if they’re completed at all.

Flexible leadership encourages employees to take on tasks related to things they’re interested in, have the talent for, or want to build their skill level in. Effectively designating tasks is attributed to leaders who understand how important it is to challenge their employees by calling out their other passions.

Be open to the possibility that what your employee is doing now isn’t necessarily where their career is headed. Chat with them about their life vision and see if you can delegate work tasks based on what you learn.  

Be open to implementing employee-driven solutions

Just because you’re the boss doesn’t mean all of your suggestions and solutions are right for the business challenge at hand. Being a flexible leader means listening to the advice of other company leaders as well as your employees.

Your employees are working on an entirely different level than you are as someone in leadership. They’re able to give you great feedback on how to better customer service, how to optimize the use of your product or service based on what they hear from customers, and how satisfied they are working for your company. For example, in supply chain leadership, agile managers must trust their workers to not only complete tasks but to communicate when changes to the chain itself must be made in order to make it more efficient. A good supply chain leader works with his or her employees to set processes and then make tweaks as necessary.

Host frequent team meetings and one-on-ones with your employees to pick their brains about customer interactions, the in-store shopping experience, how you can better support them in their job functions, and so forth.

Rotate roles and job responsibilities

As you get to know your employees, their skill sets, interests, and career goals, you’ll find that many of them are interested in other job responsibilities or roles. Rotating roles and job responsibilities consistently encourage employees to take on new challenges. It also aids further education on specific tasks or skills that will help them in the future.

Employees often talk about how they can do a specific job better than the person who’s currently filling the role or how they can lead a team or project better. Don’t be afraid to allow them to do just that. Allowing employees to fill different positions in your company helps you determine where’d they be most productive, supported, and valued — and can ultimately lead to better innovation and a more agile workforce, for both employees and leaders.

Start by adding an extra responsibility to their day-to-day routine outside of their specified role. Team certain members up together to work on a specific project surrounding a common passion. Allow everyone to act as a leader in some capacity.

Ultimately, flexible leadership shows employees you care about them advancing in their careers, being truly happy where they work, and being excited about what they’re doing each day for the company. To empower a flexible workforce:

  • Identify other passions in your employees and designate tasks based on those passions.
  • Rotate roles and job responsibilities often.
  • Listen to your employees and implement their suggestions when appropriate.
  • Give employees a choice of where and when they work.

By implementing these tactics within the workplace, not only will you demonstrate a willingness and desire to be flexible when it comes to the needs and benefits of your team, you will set a good example for those who may be watching you. Not only will your employees thank you, but you will surely be able to see the benefits come to fruition in both the day-to-day and in the long term.

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