|  Leadership & HR   |  Are you agile enough?

Are you agile enough?

With news today of the collapse of Arcadia, many questions are being asked and new fears prompted about the future of other organisations. Obviously the pandemic has been a significant factor in the failure of the retail group. Closing high street stores is inevitably going to have a very real impact. But does that make the collapse inevitable?

Perhaps not.

Every day we have to re-assess what we’re doing, why we’re doing it and how we’re putting it into action. I continue to feel surprised at the number of people I speak to who complain about the feeling of constant change. But isn’t evolving part of what us humans do well to stay ahead? Change should be expected and welcomed as our norm, throughout life, rather than feared and positioned as another barrier. We need to continuously develop. When we fail to adapt, we suffer.

Amidst claims that Sir Philip Green ignored the rise of online shopping, I wonder how many other businesses continue to work from a position based on old values and practices that no longer reflect the market? When is that last time you took a step back from ploughing forwards to check that you’re on the right path? It is easy to sit back when things appear to be going well and then to blame covid when profits drop. But have you responded in the most effective way? Which of these categories do you fit into:

  1. Are you wearing blinkers and keeping your fingers crossed? My guess would be a “No!” from most, but what’s your evidence for that? Be honest.
  2. Are you discussing options with your leadership team and beginning to steer a new course? How informed is that cohort of the reality? And how much is the team making changes ‘to’ your staff rather than ‘with’?
  3. Have you evidence based on feedback and as a leadership group, planning changes to fit? Better! But how are you engaging your workforce to reduce emotional resistance and to positively engage with the upheaval to their norm?
  4. Are you likely to be successful because you’ve sought feedback from staff and customers, you’ve identified how to adapt, you’ve communicated this clearly and broken down any barriers to employees being onboard? Are you moving forward in a dynamic way with everyone on the same page? Gold star!

Victim or Perpetrator?

Perpetrator is a harsh term but when the consequences of burying your head in the sand are so high for your employees that doing everything you can to demonstrate responsible leadership is essential. That means transparency and communication; seeking advice from those who know – your customers and your staff. Graham Hill has a lot to say about customer experience and the critical need to know that what you’re providing is what consumers want.

Likewise, what are your staff’s insights? We often fail to think of employees as consumers who have their own view on what works and what doesn’t. Do they consider your company to be dynamic, engaging and a go-to? Or are people working for you for the sole purpose of employment? If you’re satisfied with the latter, then be prepared to stagnate. But if you want to stay ahead of the game, you need to be agile – to look fresh and responsive; to be a company that asks questions and listens to feedback, that cares about your people (note the deliberate choice of words – this is an inclusive phrase to embody staff and customers) and welcomes change as an exciting journey.

Thankfully, more business owners are realising the need to evolve. Amanda Page and I have been working closer than ever before supporting companies who have their eyes open to the fact that change is not only inevitable and necessary but to be embraced. It’s what puts us ahead of the curve and it can be exciting when done right. That’s the critical bit. And that’s the bit that is so easy to get wrong. Take a recent scenario:

We are changing. This is how it is happening. If you don’t like it, leave.

Unfortunately some sectors are stuck in the old-school, ‘hard’ approach to leadership. Their voices are similar in their message: “This is out of your hands; you don’t have a say.” Good luck if your position demonstrates a willingness to lose your best people who want to be more than a puppet; who know that personal circumstances and professional perspectives stay muted. The next decade for you as employees demand a more holistic approach to life that employment should provide.


As we come to the end of 2020, hit the pause button and consider how you are going to find out whether what you’re doing is good enough. I’m not saying covid is an aside – for many businesses it is proving fatal. But at least if your company is unable to weather the storm, your people will know you tried your best, that they all were able to play their part, and ultimately, the final factor was out of their control. You’ll avoid the publicity about your leadership for all the wrong reasons. And you never know, you might be the next best thing to emerge from the chaos of 2020, hiring some of those unfortunate enough to find themselves unemployed.

Are you ready to embrace the next decade, kicking off with Brexit and the ongoing coronavirus fall-out? How are you going to make next year one to remember for all the right reasons? Get ready for an impact that you’re proud.


Feeling stuck? Give me a shout– let’s have a chat (no strings attached) about how you’re taking your company forward. I’m lucky enough to have a fabulous network of people who are brilliant at supporting companies to be their best.