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8 Paradoxes of Leadership Agility

By

Loved it! 😍

A fresh approach to leadership agility and the barriers leaders run into staying agile.

Synopsis

The world is ever-changing in unpredictable ways.

Leaders, therefore, need to constantly re-examine their assumptions of what it means to be a “great” leader as old models of leadership quickly fade into irrelevance.

In short, leaders need an agile mindset.

But how can leaders become agile?

We need to update and disrupt past definitions of leadership. To challenge ourselves and test our relevance often. We need to recognize challenges swiftly and respond decisively, especially when our environment is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous.

8 Paradoxes of Leadership Agility shows the way by describing how leaders met challenging conundrums with agility and emerged stronger, using the Re4 Coaching Model developed by Yeo.

It addresses the gap between theory and practice through stories of leaders distilled into eight representational paradoxes that can occur in any culture, contexts, seniority or industries.

The Re4 Coaching Model helps leaders see their world with objective clarity, understand what has to be done and why. Leaders then gain the resolve and confidence to overcome challenges with authenticity. Through it, they integrate theoretical learning with practical steps.

Use the exercises in this book and you will navigate your paradoxes. It’s time to grow and thrive.

It is pretty common for leaders to fail to keep a work balance and get overwhelmed. In leadership, there are 8 paradoxes of leadership. As a result, they fail to keep up with and adapt to change.  Using the re4 coaching model, leaders are encouraged to reconstruct the map, refresh the lens, renew the identity, and rebuild the capabilities.  As they do so, they are given techniques to adapt the techniques and strategies to real world situations.  Each of the paradoxes is presented as a “this vs. that” approach. As the author walks them through the different steps and examples of success using this coaching model.  Readers are given practical advice to help solve everyday leadership problems and redefine their leadership and be agile.   In addition to practical advice, they also provide exercises for readers to evaluate themselves and begin implementing the coaching model.  The layout is well done, but could use a few tweaks.  It would be nice to have the explanation of the paradox at the beginning instead of the end. The information is helpful and give fresh insights to readers.  The text is simple to follow and has a smooth flow and transition between topics.  I liked how they presented agility as being able to navigate these common paradoxes. The author does a great job of getting leaders to see things objectively while applying the STAR model (Situation, Task, Action, and Results) to explain each paradox. Unlike a lot of leadership books, this novel is succinct, practical, and specific.  As an experienced coach, their years of experience gives the author a sense of expert power to the reader.   However, the execution of the information fell a little bit short. It felt more like a teaser than usable practical applications.  Although it is clear they are knowledgeable and have used the model, clarification on each of the 4 steps would be helpful.  The graphics are helpful, but could be a little easier to read.  Overall, the book is a great addition to the world of available leadership books.  The information is valuable and will help leaders to improve their agility.  Although the layout could use some tweaking and some additional information in certain areas would’ve been helpful, the overall applicability is high.  This book is highly recommended for those interested in leadership, agility, an improving their overall leadership performance.

Reviewed by

We are two sisters who are librarians. Our goal is to connect readers of all ages with books they will like. We firmly believe a reluctant reader is just a reader who hasn't found the right book.

Synopsis

The world is ever-changing in unpredictable ways.

Leaders, therefore, need to constantly re-examine their assumptions of what it means to be a “great” leader as old models of leadership quickly fade into irrelevance.

In short, leaders need an agile mindset.

But how can leaders become agile?

We need to update and disrupt past definitions of leadership. To challenge ourselves and test our relevance often. We need to recognize challenges swiftly and respond decisively, especially when our environment is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous.

8 Paradoxes of Leadership Agility shows the way by describing how leaders met challenging conundrums with agility and emerged stronger, using the Re4 Coaching Model developed by Yeo.

It addresses the gap between theory and practice through stories of leaders distilled into eight representational paradoxes that can occur in any culture, contexts, seniority or industries.

The Re4 Coaching Model helps leaders see their world with objective clarity, understand what has to be done and why. Leaders then gain the resolve and confidence to overcome challenges with authenticity. Through it, they integrate theoretical learning with practical steps.

Use the exercises in this book and you will navigate your paradoxes. It’s time to grow and thrive.

What is agility?


 

 

Definitions of agility abound in business writing and other literature. One definition I found helpful was that agility is the ability to take wise, effective action amid complex, rapidly changing conditions (Joiner, Josephs, 2007).

My definition of agility is drawn from years of coaching practice and from the success stories of the multinational clients and organizations with whom I have worked. From these experiences, I have concluded that:

 

 

Agility is about the ability to flexibly navigate uncertainties and complexities while maintaining a sense of ease and authenticity.

 

 

It involves changing while not losing one’s bearings, being rooted while spreading out, remaining true to one’s self while adapting to new circumstances. Agility is a mindset, the way one thinks. We do not become agile by following frameworks, models or protocols.

Agility is a critical leadership mindset to develop, and indeed to embrace, in our lives and careers. After all, leadership is often exercised in complicated, seemingly contradictory circumstances, and in ever-shifting contexts.

 

 

Change is difficult and often paradoxical

 

I was an educator — had been for over a decade — when I discovered my love for coaching. I had always been an advocate of lifelong learning and leadership development as an educator, but my life took a turn when I attended a world-class leadership conference one day in August of 2012. In a hall filled with 800 other people, I sat transfixed as Dr John Maxwell’s voice filled the room. Something magical happened. I felt as if I was the only person in the hall. Leaning in on his every word, I drank in his message about living my life to fulfill a purpose and a mission. A dream took hold of me that day. I would become a renowned professional coach!

Five years into coaching, I tasted a little of the life of which I had dreamed. But I kept at bay the notion of starting a business as I clung to the stability that a regular job offered. I am grateful for friends who, in the early days of my coaching practice, spared precious time to give me hours of practice. My hard work and their ‘sacrifice’ paid off as my coaching skills rapidly improved. In hindsight, this was perhaps the greatest factor for my success as a professional coach. I spent a considerable amount of time acquiring broad knowledge on psychology, business, organizational expertise and honing my skills in coaching using the competency model by the Executive Coaching Forum (2008).

After those initial years of intensive practice, I was propelled to the next level when I was engaged to coach the senior leadership of the United Nations. All these transformations took place while I remained cocooned in the safety of my full-time job as an educator. But all the while, thoughts of running my own coaching practice continued to play in my mind, especially with each successive heart-lifting testimonial from clients all over the world, detailing how my coaching had catalyzed immense growth in their careers. I remember one person especially, a country director of an office in Southeast Asia. After my first session with her, a long gap ensued. In the silence, self-doubt began to assail me. Had she disengaged from me because of poor chemistry between us? Was I lacking in my skills?

My fears vanished when she reconnected to complete the coaching engagement. She revealed that our first session together was pivotal for her and gave her the strength to pull through a very difficult transition. This validation egged me closer to the precipice of starting my own coaching practice. But doubt whispered: “No, it’s too risky… How will I pay the bills if my income is unstable? … It’s impossible. How will people know of me amongst the sea of good coaches out there?”

As you read this, you can probably see that I was trapped by my need for security. The longer I stayed in my secure and stable job, the more difficult it was to make the change. At the same time, the desire to make my dream a reality burned stronger. The pressure of two opposing forces clashed and tugged against each other, pulling me in opposite directions. Before me lay two paths: leave the job security and plunge headlong into the dream of becoming a professional coach, or cling to job security and give up my dream of coaching full-time and connecting with inspiring world leaders. My heart was calling out, “Dare to pursue your dream! Throw caution to the wind!” But my head said, “Stay safe! Don’t take risks!” To move on and create the life I had envisioned for myself, I had to silence this internal war. I needed to resolve this paradox of ‘being bold’ versus ‘being safe’. I had to identify what changes I was willing to make and start taking action to bring me closer to the career of my dreams. To change, I had to morph and be agile, to think, feel and act differently. Does my story resonate with you?

 

 

In which area of your life do you long for change?


About the author

Yeo Chuen Chuen is a multi-award-winning leadership coach. Recognized as an invaluable partner in shaping the leadership styles of executives in Fortune 500 companies, satisfied clients describe the coaching experience with her as “the only professional development a leader ever needs”. view profile

Published on May 31, 2020

Published by

30000 words

Genre: Career

Reviewed by

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