Conny Dethloff deals with agile working and leadership styles on a daily basis. The first step towards implementing agile work structures is making sure that the executive maintains an “agile” attitude. This presupposes that executives put old thought and attitude patterns to the test and adopt new ones. From his point of view, there are three essential attitudes of an agile leader.
Point 1: Accept that it is necessary to empower your employees.
Agile leadership is moving away from classic top-down management towards a bottom-up management approach. In the latter case, employees are given more decision-making authority. This approach presupposes that the leader rethinks and adopts a new attitude. It is important to understand that empowerment of employees is essential in the context of the company’s agility. Along with globalization and digitization, customer choice has increased. Suppliers are thus facing greater global competition. This requires companies to adopt a strong market orientation and take changes in the market into account as quickly as possible. Employees who work in direct contact with the customer must therefore learn to make decisions that increase customer added value. A bottom-up approach is necessary. Decisions have to be made where they are needed. That means, by the employee who is operationally involved in the process. A lengthy decision-making process by a management body that is not operationally involved in the customer process makes no sense here. Only when the executive grants his or her employees increased decision-making authority can his or her company adopt an agile orientation to the market and the customer.
Point 2: Don’t change people – change structures.
On the path to establishing an agile environment, it is important to recognize that executives cannot change people. They can only change structures and framework conditions. Only after structures and processes have been established will employees be able to decide for themselves whether they can work within these structures or not. It does not help to use the best expert to form an innovative business unit, a new product or a disruptive methodology if the department or company is not willing to change old structures that prevent these new ideas from being implemented. It is important to cultivate a very people-oriented attitude and way of communication, to be honest as an executive and to explain in a transparent and open manner which decisions are made. By doing so, the executive stays authentic.
Point 3: Get rid of processes that do not generate added value for your customers.
Many executives complain that they are forced to accept old structures that do not generate added value. How can executives make their employees, colleagues and superiors aware of the need for new structures, processes and procedures? Recommendation: Question “old” process (e.g. weekly completion of a particular document). Why is this performed even if it is inconvenient? The answer that the process has always been conducted this way is not acceptable. Every person has their own field of action. And in this field of action, we can implement change. The same holds true for businesses. The first step is to start with yourself and ask yourself fundamentally which problem the company or department is facing – regardless of the company’s vision and strategy? For which customers is added value generated and how? Answering this question will help you and employees to set your and their focus correctly and to invest energy in the tasks and processes that actually create added value. When changing processes, it is important to remind employees and colleagues that all processes in a company were created by people and can therefore be dissolved or changed by them.
About the author:
Conny Dethloff is Department Head at OTTO Business Intelligence and Head of the Project and Data Management Team.
Many executives complain that they are forced to accept old structures that do not generate added value. How can executives make their employees, colleagues and superiors aware of the need for new structures, processes and procedures? Recommendation: Question “old” process (e.g. weekly completion of a particular document).conny dethloff, department manager, otto business intelligence