Managing Corporate Change with Agility – Part 2

In part 1 of our blog on agile corporate restructuring, we first dealt with the topic of agility and self-organization. Part 2 examines in more detail which requirements and tasks arise for managers as a result of the new organisational forms.

Agility means assuming leadership

In the course of agile, self-organized companies, hierarchies are increasingly softened. Leadership does not become superfluous, but changes towards leadership. The goal is to give the team its freedom. Instead of imposing rigid rules, the executive acts as a visionary and creates the necessary framework conditions for agile work. Attention is no longer focused on content and instructions. Managers no longer intervene directly in the work of agile teams, but observe and support organizational and work processes.

New tasks and requirements for leaders

Leadership therefore means: To inspire and motivate a team with visions so that creativity and innovation can emerge in new dimensions. In addition, there are a number of new tasks and requirements for managers: They should moderate the redesign of processes, support employees in coping with new challenges and simplify processes. They should also keep an eye on the communication and corporate culture. Basically, agile leadership can be divided into three task groups: Structure, support and strategy.

1. Create structure

Even an agile team cannot work completely without structure. It is necessary to create clear structures and a rough framework. This also includes defining and recording tasks, making budgets available and negotiating them, as well as facilitating timing across organizational teams.

2. Design support

The manager must be a supporter and coordinator who ideally positions the individual teams in terms of age structure, experience and competencies. Agile leadership means ensuring that the teams have all the necessary resources at their disposal. Leaders in an agile company always act as contact persons for worries, problems and wishes. Therefore feedback loops and learning processes have to be established and trouble-free work has to be made possible.

The tasks of the manager also include being there for those employees who tend to reject increased responsibility, freedom and result orientation and, if necessary, to give them clear processes and procedures. For forcing self-organization on them would be the wrong way.

3. Define strategy

The “new leaders” are also responsible for an overarching corporate strategy. The goals for teams and individual employees must be defined jointly so that each employee feels that the goals set are his or her own. In future, a major part of the work will be in the strategic area. Operational intervention is practically non-existent for managers.

Managing corporate change with agility - Part 2

Communication as core competence

Communicators are needed to ensure that the many different, autonomous units optimally serve the overarching corporate objective and ultimately meet or even exceed customer needs.

Agile leadership means “steering” heterogeneous teams and thus communicating with people from different backgrounds, countries, cultures, generations and disciplines. Managers are the contact person between the individual teams and levels of the entire organization. It is up to them to align the tasks and performance of the teams with the expectations of the customers and, if necessary, to ensure rapid adaptation.

Everyday business life & change

In day-to-day business, the new leadership role basically means being a leader. To be interested in people and their interests. This also has a positive effect on the change to an agile company. In addition, the following tasks are part of his activities:

1. The way from the zero tolerance principle to Tiral-and-Error leveling

In old structures, managing change meant above all investment security. For successful agile change, managers do not have to play it safe. It’s better to just let it happen and accept mistakes instead of standing on the spot. In addition, one’s own mistakes can also be ideal sources of learning for individual employees, teams and the entire company.

2. Define goals, vision and strategy as guard rails

The goals, vision and strategy need to be set as a kind of guard rail for the team and a time limit for certain tasks to be completed. How and by what means the goals are then achieved lies exclusively with the employees themselves in an agile company. Managers should trust their employees more and challenge them. It is about involving the employees in setting the goals. Agile Leaders show employees the overall results in concrete terms and ensure that time and tact are adhered to. However, they give the employee a free hand in everything in between and ensure trouble-free work.

3. Be a signpost and communicator

Existing tasks have to be focused, designed and prioritised differently. The executive acts even more strongly as a signpost and communicator. The tasks of executives are therefore changing away from management and control towards permanent moderation and organisation of changes in the company. Today’s managers are tomorrow’s change managers, because it is important to continuously develop oneself and one’s team and to react quickly to changes.


Agility thus brings with it a number of requirements for managers. They must be role models, innovators, visionaries, motivators and talent managers. This basically means: As a manager in agile companies, you need a wide range of different leadership styles and competencies. Only in this way is it possible to lead and develop employees according to the situation. There is therefore no one agile leadership style. Rather, a mixture of different styles tailored to the individual needs of the company and the employees is required.

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