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3 ways to be an adaptive leader in an agile world

Learn how agile planning, customer focus and skill diversification can empower leaders to thrive amid market uncertainty.

By Im RainbowCatPublished 3 months ago 3 min read
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As a leader, you must be agile enough to pivot as you learn new information about the marketplace, your customers and disruptive new technology.

We know with certainty that we’re in uncertain times and what we know today will be different tomorrow. It’s critical to constantly re-evaluate how you market and sell our products to customers because what worked last year, or even last month, may no longer be relevant.

Here are three actionable ways you can become an adaptive leader.

1. Create pi-shaped marketers

When ChatGPT launched last year, it disrupted just about every business function. Where AI goes next is unknown, so adaptive leaders must embrace this new way of working with humans and automation rather than fighting or avoiding it.

You’ll want to think about structuring your department differently and determining which skills you want to automate and which only humans can perform.

We used to talk about “T-shaped” marketers on agile teams, but the latest response to the incorporation of AI is the “pi-shaped” marketer.

The T-shaped marketer has broad knowledge covering various tactics with in-depth expertise in one or two specific areas. For example, you may have a social media specialist who can write email copy or video posts.

A pi-shaped marketer has many different things they can do well. Because of this, they are great at solving problems since they won’t need to look outside their box for knowledge rather than need help from another department (which may not exist). Your company saves money by having one person who does everything!

If your marketers are currently highly specialized, you’ll want to see how you can make changes. Many people have a lot of hidden skills that they’ve either done in a previous job as a hobby, so talk to your team members about other areas beyond their job description where they may be able to add value to your department.

Many people desire to grow and learn, so find out what skills team members want and give them opportunities to attend training courses or practice these new skills.

In a world where we need to adapt to new technologies, changing customer expectations and market uncertainty, you’ll be better prepared if you have marketing team members with broader skills, especially when it comes to critical thinking – something that AI can’t replace.

2. Plan with agility

Planning anything too far ahead will be a waste of time because as fast as you can put together an annual plan, it will be irrelevant. However, a more agile way to plan allows you to create plans that embrace change.

Agile planning involves looking at a shorter horizon. Instead of a year out, think about a quarter out. Even in a three-month horizon, a lot can change. The trick here is to think more about the outcomes you hope to achieve rather than the specific tactics that will get you there. For the quarterly plan, try to focus on one or two KPIs and potentially a few high-level initiatives, but don’t go into enormous detail.

Setting quarterly goals allows you to create a flexible backlog of work to prioritize deliverables as you learn new information. Those items may or may not get done, depending on how relevant the items are when your team is ready to start. Also, items are added to the backlog and prioritized as new information becomes available.

This flexible operating system has worked for software development teams for over 20 years, but we’ve found that all parts of the company can benefit from flexible planning.

3. Focus on customers

As an adaptive leader, you must respond quickly to customers’ ever-changing expectations of your product or service. Until recently, it was the corporate norm to focus on internal company sales goals with little consideration of customers’ impact.

Leaders today need to put customers at the forefront of all decision-making. We all think we have great ideas, but they’re pretty meaningless until our customers validate that they’re resonating with our products and ideas. If we’re marketing our products to GenZ, they’re looking for authenticity and transparency and of course, they’re the first ones to cancel you if you offend them in any way.

The good news is that we have loads of customer data to use to make real-time decisions, but as leaders, we need to empower people to have quick access and pivot strategies without much red tape.

Adaptive leadership fuels market resilience

If you’re not already, it’s time to take the proper steps to becoming an adaptive leader. In a world that’s changing faster than we can plan for, adaptability is becoming the most essential trait of modern leaders.

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About the Creator

Im RainbowCat

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