At Work

In a Post-COVID Workforce, Agility Is Key

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COVID-19 and the impact it is having on our work and home lives are still being felt. Some impacts are positive, like having more and deeper time with family; others are negative, such as lost jobs and rising anxiety. As businesses slowly reopen and Americans prepare to either return to work or look for work, one major question looms: What skills really matter now?

What skills should our work culture value more or less? What skills make a job seeker more hireable and desirable in light of COVID-19? What skills should Christ-followers hone and sharpen in the workplace? How can pastors and spiritual leaders let the fruits of the Spirit and the qualities of the incarnate Christ change the narrative in the growing “soft skills” conversation? How does Jesus help us gain more emotional intelligence? How can leaders learn to be more agile in their faith at home and at work? How can overwhelmed parents discover the traits to foster in their children at home and for entering the future workforce and world?

Over the course of my next few posts, I will tackle these questions. Today, we will unpack the simple definition of the word “agile” and examine why agility is important for today’s job seekers and employers. Then we will explore important agility traits in-depth through an acronym I have created out of the same word.

Agility in the Workplace

Google the word “agile” and you’ll find this as the first definition: “able to move quickly and easily; ‘Ruth was as agile as a monkey’; synonyms: nimble, lithe, supple, limber, acrobatic, fleet-footed, light-footed, light on one’s feet.” 

There has been a shift in recent years toward a more agile style of project management, especially in the field of software development and product design. Agile management (also called lean management) is a method of managing projects through incremental tasks and constant assessment and reassessment. This kind of management takes a more nimble approach to function as a team. It builds flexibility into a team’s systems and processes and allows for more iterations of design and development. It requires innovation, authenticity, openness, and collaboration—and, some would even say, generosity and empathy.

I am not a software developer by any stretch of the word. I am, however, interested and passionate about soft skills. Soft skills are intangible, interpersonal skills enabling a person to interact effectively with other people through communication, social skills, or a high emotional intelligence quotient (EQ). On the flip side, hard skills utilize teachable, tangible, measurable skills like reading, writing, math, software development, or a high intelligence quotient (IQ). 

I think hard skills people can improve their soft skills, and soft skills people can improve their hard skills. The two overlap often. Each person can learn from the other. Both skill sets are equally important and valuable, but one is often overlooked.

There is more room for agile-styled skills and methods of management that can inform leadership, especially in light of COVID-19. To be clear, both types of skills are necessary for managers; as Simon Sinek says, “You don’t manage people, you lead people.” Every leader can learn to be more agile—not just in their hard skills, but also their soft skills. And this is true for leaders in every situation, at work and at home, as they lead those in their care from children to colleagues.

Becoming an AGILE Leader

To play off of the word “agile” while helping both soft skills and hard skills people better understand and learn from each other, I’ve developed the following acronym:

A.G.I.L.E: Aware, Generous, Innovative, Learning, Empathetic

The A.G.I.L.E. leader is one who is more balanced in both hard and soft skills, taking on the qualities best of both as they build on their strengths while improving their weaknesses.

I have thought long and hard about this definition as well as strategically and carefully chosen each word on purpose. This type of leader is one I strive to be, not just in my job but in other areas of life, including family, parenting, civic duties, and social engagement. 

Striving to be more of an A.G.I.L.E leader can help anyone become a better leader, a more effective worker, and a more well-rounded human being. As a Christ-follower, I can see an overlap in these soft skills with the traits of Jesus and the fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, self-control).

In the next two posts, I will unpack each letter in this acronym so that you can be equipped to be a more A.G.I.L.E. leader, no matter if you are seeking a job, managing a team, or managing your home. 

Editor’s note: This post was originally published on Medium and has been adapted with permission from the author. You can read the original version here.

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