The Better Work Project: Leading with agility

15 October

Are traditional leadership practices outdated in our modern workplaces? How can we solve new and emerging problems in today’s rapidly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world? In this podcast we are joined by ICAgile Director of Community Engagement, Shane Hastie to discuss the future of leadership.


  • Leadership skills and competencies that made people successful in the 20th century don’t make them successful in the 21st century.
  • People have often reached leadership through tenure, not capability.
  • Some of our current thinking goes back to the industrial age. One area that has lagged behind is leadership.
  • There is a clear link between a good manager and engagement.
  • Leadership is highly context-based. In more toxic cultures and workplaces it can be harder for managers to be effective.
  • The industrial revolution required optimisation of the current state.
  • Now we need to optimise on a future state. Leaders that can do that will be more successful.
  • Individuals have to take more responsibility for themselves and have the skills and capabilities to pivot to a changing world. Leaders need to create the environment for this to happen.
  • Leadership isn’t a role, it’s a practice.
  • Leadership in the age of agility is about leading and inspiring others so people feel safe and empowered.
  • There needs to be a clear ownership mindset.
  • Leaders need to hold the mirror up to themselves – and understand how they can make a difference to the people around them. Personal agility is the starting point. Relational agility is the next step.
  • Organisations are in a constant state of flux. Things are going to continue changing. We must enable agility through people.
  • Management in years gone by was about following processes. Expert power bases were prominent. This falls apart in a VUCA world.
  • Leadership in a status quo is pretty easy – change throws everything into disarray.
  • Good leadership is about coaching and asking good questions.
  • Organisations that are further down the adaptive pathway with more self-direction and better leadership are flourishing. Our current context is a wake-up call.
  • Agile leaders need to be inspiring and need to focus on developing their people. They need clarity of vision - they are the conveyor of the ‘why’.
  • David Marquet in his book Turn the Ship Around, talks about intent based leadership.
  • Out of sociocracy we use ‘good enough for now’, ‘safe enough to try’ and we consider what would the blast radius be for any decision.
  • Deliberate conscious humility is required in leadership.
  • On the Dunning- Kruger curve there’s a point in time where our confidence in our knowledge is the highest – the peak of Mount Stupid. We want to avoid that.
  • We have to hire for mindset and beliefs, instead of hiring for experience.
  • It is important to create expectations around what is needed and what is good from a leadership perspective.
  • Learning takes time and effort and so creating the space to learn and unlearn is important.
  • Courage comes from letting go and trusting people. Trust has to be given as a starting point.
  • Leadership is inspiring your group to collaboratively achieve outstanding outcomes for society, customers, organisations, and themselves.
  • Leadership is about followership.
  • Change is a rule not the exception.

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