Why agility as a founder is the key to business success

Are you an agile founder? Here’s why promoting a culture of flexibility, developing emotional intelligence, and being adaptable is the key to business success. 

The world is constantly changing around us, so it’s important that your business keeps up with it.

Agile businesses have been shown to improve customer satisfaction and increase employee engagement as well as operational performance.

But what is agility, really? It’s the ability to think and move quickly and easily. Yet it’s also about being able to read situations and identify needs. In business, this is known as Emotional Intelligence (or EQ).  

EQ in the workplace is more than just relating to others and navigating emotions. EQ in business is about being able to anticipate how future scenarios might play out in all their varying forms so that you can plan for every eventuality. 

How to boost your emotional intelligence

If you’ve ever taken an EQ test, you’ll know that it comes more naturally to some than others. However, EQ and agile thinking can be developed – with practice. Here’s how you can boost your emotional inteligence: 

Take a good look at yourself

Self-awareness is essential to developing your EQ. Being able to identify all your strengths and weaknesses, your values, as well as what triggers you (positively and negatively) is key.

Look at your social environment

Examine all your social connections as you interact day-to-day. Try to put yourselves in other people’s shoes (suppliers, staff, clients) to better understand how they may be feeling in any given situation. Most business leaders call this ‘reading the room’. Think about the best approaches to managing relationships, whether that’s when you’re receiving and giving feedback, or simply building your little book of contacts.

Keep calm

Not letting your emotions drive your behaviour or thoughts is crucial for EQ. Reflection and emotional outbursts can happen later and in private, but self-regulation in the moment can go a long way. 

The archetypal start-up entrepreneur is usually portrayed as a whizzing, ‘takes-no-prisoners’ and ‘never-takes-no-for-an-answer’ ball of energy. While we applaud grit and determination, there’s also a place for softer, calmer, and more measured spirits in business.

Leading an agile business is never a destination, but a continuous journey. You want to constantly plan for all those unknown scenarios, so that you’re as prepared as a scout when challenges arise, and are able to respond in real-time, not six weeks later.

How to create an agile workplace

Striving for perfection often leads to a rigid business environment. Before you put a new process or technology in place, identify the wiggle room for when/if you suddenly need to change course.

Be transparent

Establish open and fluid business structures and processes, and stay transparent about this with your team through constant communication and sharing data-backed information.

Nurture relationships

Relationships are assets. The outdated leadership model to divide and conquer is long gone, as is the acceptance of CEOs who lose their sh*t when things go wrong.

Empower people

Involve and empower your team from the offset – even if it’s something seemingly small, such as rearranging the office seating plan, or changing reporting lines. 

Keep learning

Ensure you are a learning organisation. This will mean that when you do need to make a big change, such as reallocating roles, upskilling your team, or communicating a major decision, then it won’t uproot your business or the people in it. 

Stay ready 

When business is succeeding, it’s natural to gain confidence. But this can lead to complacency: you may think you only need to continue doing what you’re doing, rather than innovate. However, making small iterations to your business isn’t always going to be enough. Agility is a willingness to change. So many successful businesses that started as one thing became something entirely different. 

Why agility is the key to business success

Society often views and celebrates entrepreneurs as great risk-takers who take ‘daring leaps’. Truth is, we shouldn’t be. 

Agility is never about leaping without looking. It’s about informed decisions, maintaining a modicum of stability, and calculated risks. Aim for Plan As, Bs, and Cs that give you the option to pivot in a number of directions. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself stuck in a rigid situation. Stay agile, and stay on top. 

What’s been your experience of agility in business? Let us know in the Founder’s Hub community!