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How to Gain Leaders' Commitment to BEING Agile

Uncategorized Jun 24, 2024

If you're an Agilist who works with leaders at any level, you know that business agility requires leaders to do more than adopt Agile methods. True organizational agility won't come about unless leaders themselves become more agile and develop a culture that welcomes and supports agility. This can be a heavy lift for Agilists working with leaders who have been told to be agile, but don't have a clear picture of what agile leadership really looks like. How can you gain leaders' commitment to be coached to embody greater agility?

Many Agilists have found that the unique insights of the Leadership Agility framework its methodologies are extremely well-suited for this purpose. ChangeWise, creator of this framework, has developed two leadership assessment processes that Agilists are using to create robust, shared coaching agendas with the leaders they support: The Leadership Agility 360 and the Leadership Agility Accelerator. Some key features of these two assessment methods are outlined below. 

The Leadership Agility 360

In my view, most 360 instruments are not terribly effective in creating coaching agendas for leaders to which they are fully committed.

Context-specific vs. context-free feedback

Let look at an example from a traditional 360. Let's say your client gets feedback indicating they need to work on this item: "Brings conflict into the open for resolution." On a 5-point scale that ranges from "not effective" to "highly effective," their average score is "somewhat effective." This definitely points to an area that needs improvement, but how helpful is this kind of feedback in creating a coaching agenda?

Because the items are so abstractly stated, no clues are provided about what "effective" or "highly effective" behavior in this area would look like. You and your client are left to guess. And, by the way, on all the items, what's the difference between "effective" and "highly effective," should your client want to improve on something they are already pretty good at?

One way to try to deal with this limitation of traditional 360s is to focus primarily on the written feedback section. This can provide a bit more concreteness, but it remains limited in that it is still "context free." By this I mean that comments along the lines of "doesn't bring conflict into the open for resolution" usually don't specify whether this is primarily an issue in pivotal conversations, in team leadership, or in leading organizational change. (Our research shows that leaders can be strong in one of these arenas and not in others).

One of a number of ways the Leadership Agility 360 differs from other 360s is that both the quantitative and the written feedback it provides are context-specific, revealing how a leader is viewed in each "arena" just mentioned. As a result, coaches, leaders, and leadership development professionals frequently comment on how much easier it is to translate feedback into an actionable coaching agenda.

Levels of leadership agility

Ease of understanding feedback and translating it into action is not the only distinctive feature of the Leadership Agility 360. It is also based on a research-based framework that identifies three "levels of agility" a leader can grow through (Expert, Achiever, Catalyst)). In the qualitative section, instead of seeing a 5 or 7-point scale with abstract items, feedback providers see three behavioral descriptions for each item, each implicitly representing a different level of agility.

For example, instead of "brings conflict into the open for resolution," feedback providers see an item with this sentence stem: "When others' views and objectives conflict with their own, this manager ..." They are asked which of the following behavioral descriptions is most characteristic:

  • Listens to others' opinions but primarily relies on their own judgment.
  • Listens to and considers others' views while clearly advocating their own view.
  • Initiates collaborative conversations to candidly examine and resolve serious differences.

Enterprise Agile Coaches, "regular" leadership coaches, and leaders themselves all say that these qualitative distinctions are much more actionable than the quantitative distinctions used in other 360s.

Leadership Agility Accelerator 2.0

The Leadership Agility Accelerator is a coach-assisted self-assessment and action-planning process that provides an alternative way to create a robust, shared coaching agenda, should a 360 for some reason not be feasible or desirable. The Accelerator has the same features as those highlighted about the 360 above, and it uses the same Action Planning template that coaches say makes such a difference. 

The 2.0 version of the Accelerator is an upgrade that helps to further guard against the self-bias that can so easily creep into self-assessments. Agile coaches who've used it say they love it.

Both assessments require some training and a certification.

To learn more, go to


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