Developing Leadership Agility


By Stephane Leblanc, Founder and CEO, International Centre for Conscious Leadership

We live in a world where change is constantly accelerating and where not changing can be fatal.

As mentioned by Darwin, it is not the strongest or the most intelligent species that survive, but those that can adapt most to change.

How do you react to change? How does your organization react to change?

With the advancement of technology, changes are more and more disruptive and organizations need to be agile so they can adapt to these changes and not only survive but thrive.

Air bnb is the biggest hotel in the world, yet it owns no buildings.

Uber is the biggest taxi company in the world, yet it owns no car.

Netflix has eliminated the video rental stores and has 150 million subscribers.

These companies did not exist only a few years ago and they are now dominating their markets.

Leadership agility is the ability to sense, respond and adapt to change quickly and confidently.

In their book Leadership Agility, Joiner and Joseph describe different levels of leadership agility which reflect the level of evolution of leaders.


Expert leaders have a tactical problem-solving orientation. They believe that leaders are followed by others because of their technical expertise and positional authority. They avoid giving or receiving feedback. Their primary focus is on incremental improvements.


Achiever leaders have a strategic outcome orientation. They believe that leaders motivate others by making work challenging and satisfying. They accept feedback if helpful to achieve desired outcomes and they seek to get others buy-in to own views.


Catalyst leaders are visionary leaders and have a facilitative orientation.  They believe that leaders articulate an innovative and inspiring vision and bring together the right people to transform this vision into reality. They empower others and develops them and they are genuinely interested in learning from diverse viewpoints.


Co-creators are oriented towards shared purpose and collaboration. They believe leadership is ultimately a service to others. Leaders collaborate with other leaders to develop a shared vision that each experiences as deeply purposeful.


Synergistic leaders have a holistic orientation. They experience leadership as participation in a palpable life purpose that benefits others while serving as a vehicle for personal transformation.

They also mention that leadership agility can be demonstrated by four key skills.

Context setting agility

The ability to scan the environment, anticipate important changes, decide on what initiatives to take, scope each initiative and determine the desired outcomes.

Stakeholder agility

The ability to assess the alignment between the objectives and the stakeholders objectives and find ways to increase the alignment.

Creative agility

The ability to use both critical and breakthrough thinking in problem-solving to generate uniquely appropriate responses to challenges.

Self-leadership agility

The ability to determine the kind of leader one want to be and use its everyday leadership initiatives to experiment towards those aspirations, reflect on their experience and fine-tune the changes they would like to make.

Agile leaders

Are strong in context-setting agility as they are more attentive to the larger context in which their stakeholders operate. They pay more attention to managing the working relationships within and between units and the organizational culture that shapes these relationships. They have a strategic orientation and a strong interest in achieving long-term outcomes.

Are strong in stakeholder agility as they are more accepting of themselves and others. They place real value on understanding views that differ from their own. They develop a vision that has significant personal meaning for them and others. They create teams and organizations where people feel empowered to contribute their own unique talents and ideas.

Are strong in creative agility as they understand the role that frames of references play in giving meaning to ideas and experiences and that « we don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are. » They understand that every problem statement is based on a particular frame of reference. They are able to try on frames of references that differ from their own. They are more creative thinkers.

Are strong on self-leadership as they have a more affirming attitude towards themselves and are less dependent on others perceptions of themselves. They understand the inner dimension of empowerment. They meet thoughts, feeling and behaviours with curiosity and reflective acceptance instead of judging or rejecting them. They see personal growth as an open-ended process

By developing leadership agility, leaders develop their capability to sense and respond to changes in the business environment with actions that are focused, fast and flexible and they enable employees to shift their mindsets and skills so they can anticipate and be ready for change.

Are you ready to be an agile leader?