Five Traits of an Agile Enterprise – Part 3

by Michael Hugos on April 30, 2014

Participatory senior executives motivate and guide entrepreneurial employees.

Executives in an agile organization recognize that prosperity is not a function of greed, but instead, of entrepreneurial employees. They create and sustain an atmosphere where this behavior can happen. Senior executives in agile companies focus on the essentials; they take care of their people; and they do not micromanage. They seek out and exploit opportunities to diversify into new markets. They figure out what needs to be done and give people clear objectives and performance targets, and then they get out of the way. They tell their people WHAT to do, and let them figure out HOW to do it.

Participatory senior execs actively create the environment for middle managers and employees to succeed. They guide their companies with clearly defined goals and performance targets that are not stated just in financial terms. Agile and entrepreneurial organizations naturally gravitate toward profits, but profits only tell the score and people need guidance on how to achieve those profits. So, senior executives define performance targets that also measure customer satisfaction, operating improvements and product innovation. These performance targets build an organization that can perpetuate itself, not consume itself; they create work environments that satisfy people on both a personal and a financial level.

Participatory senior executives build trust by showing and explaining the financial and operating numbers every week; without doctoring or spin. They know that “No Spin Entrepreneurship” is the only way to build and maintain people’s trust in the company and in senior management. Most of the time they practice implicit leadership; not explicit leadership. That means they lead by example, not by command. They live by the words “do as I do” instead of “do as I say”.

They also put their money where their mouth is; that’s how they earn the right to call themselves “participatory”. When things go well they are well rewarded and when things do not go well they are not well rewarded. They accept responsibility for company performance just as a general accepts responsibility for the outcome of a battle. They do not prosper unless their companies and their people prosper (they don’t get to lay people off and then pay themselves bonuses; sometimes you have to lay people off but that’s because you need to save money not pay bonuses).

Learn more in my book Business Agility: Sustainable Prosperity in a Relentlessly Competitive World 

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