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The Pillar of Agility

You manage things; you lead people.

—Grace Murray Hopper

One of the root causes of executive failure is difficulty in recognizing the need to adapt. Frequently, leaders rely on what has worked for them in the past. For instance, a frontline supervisor may have, over time, developed the skills of a commander, demanding full compliance from his or her team members. Getting quick results from a command-and-control approach may create an illusion that things get done only by exerting the skills of hard power. As people get promoted, they often believe that results can be quickly achieved only through firing off orders indiscriminately.

Although this approach may be valid in some situations, it can be detrimental in others. In most ...

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