Agile HR: Developing Agility as a Leader and an Organization

March 22, 2016 | Barbara Trautlein | HCI
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I’m honored to be a presenter at HCI’s Human Capital Summit in New Orleans this month. The theme is “Agile Talent Strategies for Managing Change and Shifting Priorities,” so of course that topic is top-of-mind for me. I’ll be speaking on how HR leaders can build their Change Intelligence® to promote agile talent processes, which in turn fosters business agility for their organizations, enabling rapid response to evolve products and services to meet ever-increasingly challenging customer demands in our VUCA world.

In order to promote agile processes, HR professionals need to be A.G.I.L.E. leaders themselves: they must Adapt to change; have the Guts to upend outmoded systems and behaviors; Innovate in new directions; continually Learn and explore; and foster a culture of collaboration to Engage for change. 

As Gandhi sagely stated, “be the change you wish to see in the world.” Ask yourself and your team members these questions to gauge your individual and collective agility level:

AGILE Component

Key Questions


When we encounter change, do we react with fear and threat, or with openness and possibility? 

Are we flexible and open to new ways of thinking and acting?

Do we respond with resilience, emerging stronger from disruption? 


Do we challenge business-as-usual, within the HR function as well as more broadly in our organization?

Do we have the courage to push-back on systems and behaviors that may have been appropriate in a more stable environment, but are no longer serving us? 

When is the last time we proactively facilitated a courageous conversation to challenge the status quo and bravely question “that’s just how we do things”?


How do we promote visionary thinking, and the capacity to invent our own future versus reacting to external circumstances and playing catch-up to others in our industry? 

Are we constantly experimenting, trying and testing new strategies and processes to achieve our goals?

Do we dare greatly, take calculated risks, make it safe to fail fast, retool, iterate, and try again?  


Do we have a growth-orientation or a fixed mindset?

Are we curious, continuous learners who seek and explore new ideas and approaches? 

How are we at role modeling time for reflection – for powering-down to power-up – to digest new information and provide the space for it to gestate into practical insight? 


Do we facilitate meaningful collaboration up, down, and across the organization, to confront traditional ways of working and spearhead the new?

Have we forged strategic relationships with business leaders, such that the HR function is respected as a key player in strategic deliberations?
Are we proactive in soliciting input about talent management practices from our workforce, diligent in gathering feedback about the impact and effectiveness of HR processes, and participative in partnering with peers outside our function to design and deliver systems that enable our business and empower our people?  

HR professionals are uniquely positioned to positively and proactively promote individual and collective agility in their organizations. The right talent management processes can help recruit and develop agile leaders. The right culture and systems can enable agile organizational responsiveness. All are pivotal success factors in today’s shifting business landscape where markets won’t stand still.  Agility at all levels is a critical competitive advantage across industries globally. By asking yourself and your team these questions, and by making meaningful improvements based on your answers, your HR function will take the first steps to deliver on that goal.

Want to learn more? Visit to download two free chapters of the best-selling book Change Intelligence:  Use the Power of CQ to Lead Change that Sticks, watch video and listen to audio about CQ, and read compelling real-life case studies of leaders like yourself putting CQ into action. Get certified in Change Intelligence via the CQ Certification Program and earn 18 HRCI credits!


Barbara A. Trautlein, Ph.D.
Principal and Founder, Change Catalysts, LLC

Barbara A. Trautlein, PhD is author of the best-selling book Change Intelligence:  Use the Power of CQ to Lead Change that Sticks, principal and founder of Change Catalysts, and originator of the CQ System for Developing Change Intelligent Leaders and Organizations. For over 25 years, Barbara has coached executives, trained leaders at all levels, certified change agents, and facilitated mission-critical change management initiatives - achieving bottom-line business and powerful leadership results for clients.  She is gifted at sharing strategies and tactics that are accessible, actionable, and immediately applicable.  Her blend of research and real-world expertise makes her an in-demand speaker at conferences in North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa.  Barbara has a unique ability to connect with her audiences, from C-level executives in Fortune 50 organizations to front line employees, and across industries, from steel mills to sales teams, refineries to retail outlets, and healthcare to high tech.  Clients served include Abbot Laboratories, BP, Cisco, Ford Motor Company, the NYPD, and United Airlines.  Barbara holds a doctorate in Organizational Psychology from the University of Michigan.