A previous article referred to the four traits of a ‘super’ professional: resilience, autonomy, agility and clarity. In the previous two articles, I described the characteristics of resilience and autonomy.
In this article, three of four in the series, let us explore agility. This is the ability to move quickly and easily and changing direction if needed. Like a cheetah chasing its next meal.
Professionals usually work best under constraints — such as a deadline. But agility is not merely about frantically working faster to meet a deadline. It’s about figuring out the best way to accomplish a task with new, innovative and efficient methods.
The key is to figure out how to work smarter to accomplish tasks with the time you have got, not just harder. Heard that before? Work smarter not harder. It should be redefined as ‘work less achieve more’. Question your systems, processes, and structure you use to become more efficient and to achieve more while working even fewer hours — improve the return on your time invested.
By being smarter at getting more work done faster, you can create a more flexible schedule that fits work into your life in better ways. For example, only checking and answering emails after you have got the first major task of the day well underway. Not attending every meeting that you are invited to if you don’t have to be there.
Another aspect of agility by a professional is the ability to pivot when a major change occurs, or there is a need for a new skill or expertise.
Agility works to the advantage of the professional when they are able to pivot when needed, and faster than their peers, but also because they are not held back by traditional processes and rules. When someone says, ‘you can’t do that’ just say ‘watch me’!
In many ways, the agile professional follows the ‘agile’ movement which is the current best practice in software development.
This includes the need for customer satisfaction (that could be senior management and key stakeholders) through early delivery of useful outputs. Agile development also prefers face-to-face communication.
Simplicity is key (more about that in the next article) applying the Pareto principle or the 80:20 rule, making sure you focus on the important 20% that gives 80% or the results.
Agility is a key characteristic of super-professionals — being able to achieve more in less time by working smarter, pivoting when needs and focusing on the 20% that delivers the majority of the benefits.