Agile Balance – What it is… What it does… How to get it, part 2 of 2

As in nature, Agile Balance requires an organic inside out commitment to stay on course. That’s why I always suggest planting my The Four Commitment QuestionsTM deeply to keep every Jack and Jill on plan, on target and in engaged collaboration. The Four Commitment QuestionsTM (What Can I Do More of, Less of, Start and Stop?) become part of the bedrock to insure commitment to the organization’s vision remains consistent and strong.

Once rooted into an organization’s culture, The Four Commitment QuestionsTM transform the workplace. Based on more than 20 years of research from The Leadership Practices InventoryTM (LPI) created by colleagues Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, these simple, yet effective questions take common sense and turn it into common practice allowing Agile Balance to flourish.

With Agile Balance, the individual and organizational benefits are plentiful:[wcm_restrict]

  • Create a culture of success, fun and productivity.
  • Establish a living vision story.
  • Create and gain clarity on core values.
  • Design solutions to organizational, corporate and talent issues.
  • Collapse any perceived or real barriers between working groups.
  • Discover leadership strengths and preferences through real feedback.
  • Develop more appreciation for state of the art leadership thinking.
  • Build trust while leading change.
  • Enhance strategy for building effective teams.
  • Align vision with the strategic business plan.

So, now that we know what Agile Balance is and what it can do for us, how do we get it?

The first step is to honestly scrutinize yourself and your organization to see what’s really going on from the inside out. But, you may be thinking, that’s easier said than done. Read on.

I’m well known for practical, get-something-done advice. For years, my clients have relied on the Leadership Practices Inventory to keep them up-to-speed on how their leaders are faring from an individual leadership perspective. However, for Agile Balance, that’s not enough. Agile Balance requires you to glimpse deeply within yourself and your organization. You need to peel back the layers and peer intensely inside. And the picture that results should snap together like a jigsaw puzzle.

From a personal view, often times I find that most people have little or no clue about how their behavior and subsequent choices influences the world and people around them. For Agile Balance to flourish, it’s imperative to know how others perceive you.

One way to begin this process is through the use of self-awareness instruments. I favor the Personal Profile DISC model from Inscape Publishing and the Belbin Team Roles instruments for their simplicity. However, you may have other reliable resources at your disposal.

Instruments such as these are useful to get a sense on how your behavior influences others and how others see you versus how you see yourself. It’s like looking in a fun house mirror. You see yourself from more than one perspective. I like self-awareness instruments because they are quite informative, simple and fun to do. (And, be sure to keep this process simple and fun.)

Once you have your LPI and self-awareness results, you can begin to make strides in changing behavior that is getting in the way of your personal or career advancement. Don’t be too hard on yourself, but be sure to make the commitment to change. It takes daily practice to keep your new awareness front of mind.

From an organizational perspective, you need to examine the architecture (systems, structure, etc.), brand perception, performance and execution of your product or service.

And that inside out organizational approach is available in simplified (and fun) form from my colleagues at the Tom Peters Company/UK. Through their Future Shape of the Winner approach to business improvement, they offer a unique diagnostic, the Excellence AuditTM. Leadership teams can use this tool to analyze their current situation and create performance improvement plans that fit their talent, their business and its operating framework.

If you couple your self-awareness instrument results with the Excellence AuditTM and The Leadership Practices InventoryTM the power increases exponentially. The outcome is a true “Ex-Ray” of you as well as your organization and the leadership potential of all of the talent necessary to keep it moving forward as you stretch towards Agile Balance.

Finally, everyone needs to embrace and practice Robert’s Rules:

  • Show Up, your credibility matters. Be fully present at all times. Keep in mind that Agile Balance is a moment- to-moment choice. Demonstrate this by listening deeply to your inner voice as well as the many others around you. This new, more credible you creates a credibility path so others want to join with you, not just follow aimlessly along.
  • Speak Up, your voice matters. Agile Balance can’t grow in dark silence. Discover your true voice and help every Jack and Jill find his or hers. Speak from your heart and create a vision story that offers others a positive future they see themselves playing a serious role in.
  • Step Up, your action matters. Be that action hero you’ve always dreamt about. Erase those limiting thoughts. Question everything; especially those systems, policies and procedures that hold you and your organization back. Through your action attitude, others will see obstacles as opportunities as well.
  • Serve Up, your gift matters. Be of service. Create a diversified cast of talented leaders. Honor their individuality. Recognize them with creative and meaningful rewards. Collaborate and coach them so their legacy is a part of your legacy.

Now you might be thinking you’ve done all of the above. Perhaps, not with the same tools or language, but you’ve “been there and done that.” And you have tons of T-shirts to prove it. Not so fast.

Unless the C-Suite, janitor, that new Jack or Jill and everyone in between are all speaking and acting with the same leadership intention, you’re only a pretender. For Agile Balance to blossom and grow there is one more necessary ingredient, clarity of commitment. Agile Balance needs commitment from the ground up with frequent feedback every nine months to one year. Zero follow-ups equal zero commitment. Without commitment, nothing changes. Not you, not them, nothing.

Discovered by those who see leadership, not as a role or position, but as a way of life, Agile Balance helps you close the gap between beliefs and behaviors. In effect, Agile Balance equals success.

Whether your organization’s mission is fetching pails of water, jumping over candlesticks, climbing beanstalks or tricking giants out of their golden eggs, with Agile Balance working for you, the results are no fairy tale.

Don’t just wish upon a star; focus on what matters and you and your organization may just live happily ever after.[/wcm_restrict][wcm_nonmember]

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About the Author

Robert Thompson is the author of The Offsite: A Leadership Challenge Fable. To learn more about Agile BalanceTM, contact Robert at [email protected], follow him on Twitter @RobertHThompson or subscribe to his Leadership Path newsletter at

Want to learn more about Robert Thompson and The Offsite? Listen to the StrategyDriven Podcast interview during which Robert shares with us his insights on the unique leadership challenges associated with today’s business environment.

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