July 14, 2017

Balancing on a Tightrope – The Leadership Skills of Consistency & Agility

Balancing consistency and agility in leadershipHow do organizational leaders strike the right balance between consistency and agility when executing on strategy and leading their organizations?

While finding this balance can be tough, exceptional leaders are both consistent and agile as the situation requires.

Consistency is important in terms of financial performance, customer experience and service, and delivering quality offerings. Consistency also lends stability and confidence to the organization for employees, customers, investors and board members.

But if a leader is too consistent (especially within a changing environment or in the face of new data) they risk rigidity, and worse, being able to seize opportunity.

Agility is important as markets and conditions evolve and shift. In fact, the ability to be agile can be critical to success and sustainability. Just ask Blockbusters, Radio Shack or Sears. Agility requires organizational leaders to be intellectually curious, ready to learn from others and skilled at communication, collaboration and change management.

Of course, agility can quickly become lack of focus if there isn’t a balance.

So how do you as a leader determine the right balance and know when to make a shift?


The first step to striking the right balance is to understand your leadership style and approach:

Are you more consistent or more agile?

Armed with that insight, fill your team with leaders who have a complementary style and skill set.

If you tend to be very consistent, appoint a number two who will challenge you to be curious, ask questions, seek different viewpoints and data. Empower those around you to speak up and challenge you, too.

If you tend to be more agile, processes and systems will help you strike a better balance. So install strong operational structures that ensure consistency, including dashboards and metrics.

To retain agility within a structured environment, adopt an agile planning process for thinking about big strategic issues – one that is diverse and inclusive and, therefore, sets the stage for gaining a wider range of options and differing opinions.

Finally, make time to learn and grow as a leader. The more you learn and grow, the better you’ll be as a leader and the more you’ll walk that tightrope of consistency and agility with exceptional balance.

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