I caught up with a friend last week who played soccer in college and has been very successful in business. We talked about the importance of agility in both arenas. While I’m not a huge fan of sports metaphors for business (because there are so many distinct differences) I landed on a key insight from our conversation – the importance of being agile. If you follow sports, you probably know that agility is an important tool in an athlete’s toolbox. While we talk less about agility in business, it is just as crucial for success in this arena, especially in uncertain times.
Leadership agility is crucial for: changing directions, stop and go moves, and defense.
- Changing directions – an agile soccer player can anticipate and react to defenders and change directions on a dime. In business, external factors (like a global pandemic) require a quick strategic change in direction. Think nimble! We talk a lot about the importance of adding value to customers. If your customer’s priorities have changed, the way you can add value may have also changed.
- Stop and go – If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s how quickly the world can come to a halt. At some point, the world will accelerate, and your business can’t be caught flat- footed. I’ve seen clients rapidly launch efforts in a new direction by focusing on a new market or take advantage of the downtime by accelerating development efforts with their teams. Some have swiftly made improvements in processes or systems. Agile soccer players are able to quickly accelerate without losing their balance, and as we begin to accelerate into the next phase of the post-pandemic world, your business must be agile enough not to stumble when pivoting in a new direction.
- Defense – In soccer, a less agile defender will be easily beat by the offense. While in business we rarely, if ever, find ourselves in a head to head defensive battle, the metaphor resonates. If you aren’t quick to make the changes needed to meet the moment, you may find yourself falling behind your more agile competitors.
As we prepare for whatever comes next, the only certainty is that the world will be different. In order to succeed, it is important we are not caught on our heels. Stay on your toes, stay agile.
The statement, “I am a perfectionist” makes me think of that common interview question “what is your greatest weakness?” Because, while it has its downsides, telling a potential employer you are a perfectionist or the other total BS answer that “I work too hard,” casts a far more positive light on your liabilities than if you were to say you’re lazy or unorganized. There are numerous positive elements of perfectionism including: high-quality work products, attention to detail, and strong work ethic. But perfectionists can also be terribly frustrating to work with for missed deadlines, allowing perfection to get in the way of completing very good work, and of course, unrealistic expectations and standards.
This article caught my eye because it highlights one strength of perfectionism I hadn’t previously considered: creativity.
I found the argument fascinating and have outlined a few snippets below:
- When perfectionists come across an idea or school of thought incongruent with theirs, they are often unable to ignore it. Perfectionists are more likely to work to reconcile the different ideas, resulting in a stronger argument.
- Curiosity is linked to creativity, and perfectionism is linked to a desire to understand everything. Following this logic, the more you learn, the more creative you’ll be.
Moral of the story? Lean in to your (or your teammates’) perfectionist tendencies. Be relentlessly curious – your ideas will thank you.
Question to Ponder:
What will you do this summer? As the weather is getting warmer it’s hard not to think about that hoped-for summer vacation, and what it might look like. Since flying currently seems to be questionable (though it may not be in July), have you thought about going somewhere you can drive to? Are you thinking of a staycation? I find myself wondering what items I could purchase online to ensure some summer fun. Rumor has it, little drink umbrellas and kiddie pools will be in high demand this summer.