The importance of agile leadership in uncertain times

The importance of agile leadership in uncertain times

Jeff Gipson | January 5, 2021

Agile leadership might not be exactly what you think it is.

All we’ve heard this last year is how we will have to adjust to a new normal, how a new set of standards and best practices will fall into place as a result of various social and financial events. However, there is a problem in this particular mode of thinking—it assumes something won’t come along, once again, and significantly disrupt our routines. 

We like the usual, the predictable, the standard days and ways of doing things because we can account for what comes next, plan accordingly and make well informed and profitable decisions as a result. What this pandemic and the coinciding unrest has shown us is the only thing we can be sure to need in our professional and private lives is the ability to adapt to new, uncomfortable and unfamiliar situations. 

We all have jobs to do, but knowing there are multiple paths to the same objectives is crucial in developing strategies to address current and potential problems. So, how does executive leadership in the insurance industry, masters of risk assessment and helping the consumer cope with the unexpected, employ agile leadership to maintain working environments where their teams are as prepared as possible?

Be curious

A fair amount of my clients had to adapt this year. They accomplished this by learning, by being curious about the technologies they had to become proficient with in order to continue working. 

Safety concerns during this pandemic have forced a fair amount of people to take their work home with them, and figuring out how to make this transition efficient has been a matter of asking the right questions, of an organization’s department taking inquiries under consideration and making the proper adjustments in a way that benefits a company’s capabilities as a whole. 

If you or your teams have questions about security, sharing information, virtual meeting applications, etc., bring these concerns to the people and the departments who can make effective changes. 

Have a plan (and then have another one)

Agile leadership would seem to imply that a leadership structure is comfortable flying by the seat of their pants and possessing the flexibility to deal with any situation that is thrown at them because of a talent for flexibility. While that might be partially true, in terms of more resourceful leadership, real agile leadership most likely over plans, considering potential situations, and coming up with contingencies to take advantage of them and to limit a potential loss. 

Agile leadership understands that when a crisis strikes, there will not just be one massive fire to put out. Real catastrophe and potential barriers to success are layered situations and require an organized response on multiple fronts. 

We can’t prepare for everything, but we can prepare for those eventualities we know. Chances are many problems that halt or affect creativity come from similar vectors. A thorough and planned response can make adjustments smoother.

Have faith in your professional family 

I help build teams in the insurance space but, most importantly, I work personally with industry leaders to find talent who fits them, will help them grow and realize the exact impact they want to have on their company and the world of insurance. 

We work together to find those team members who you feel you can trust, who you saw as leaders in their field, as effective and as being trustworthy. Even if I or another recruiter didn’t work with you, you most likely chose your team members for similar reasons. You believed they could and would do an excellent job. Even during crisis situations, that will not change.

However, everyone deals with hardship or uncertainty in different ways. Just like in the professional world, in our secluded private life, we all have different strengths and weaknesses. A more effective use of your time would be to check on the mental well being of your team as opposed to assessing if they are doing the job you were confident enough to hire them to do. 


When looking for ways to increase agility as leaders—professionally and personally—The James Allen Companies is here to assist you. We look forward to helping your company or professional career advance through thoughtful, proactive action and preparation. Contact us to get started.

About the Author

Jeff Gipson
Jeff Gipson Sr. is a veteran of the staffing industry, with more than 30 years of experience. He got his start working for an international staffing organization where he focused on information technology placements across the country. In July 1992, Jeff continued his staffing career with a St. Louis based information technology staffing company. There, he was strategically involved in launching the organization’s first branch office — and subsequently three additional branch offices over the next several years. In July 2000 Jeff made another move — this time to launch his own staffing company, continuing his IT focus. In 2003 the organization was reinvented. Relying on his earlier sales career in the insurance industry, the company changed course and began building the firm around the insurance industry. The company continues to put all their energy in the insurance sector filling positions of all titles across the country. Jeff and his wife Carolyn have been married since 1980. They have three children and seven grandchildren.
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