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Boost your leadership skills by adopting an agile mindset.  


One of the much less talked about foundations of the work of NLP is the Agile Mindset. Technically known as the ‘Law of Requisite Variety’.

It was the Christmas season of 2014. I was shopping in the Westfield Mall of London when I happened to bump into one of my students, Maria. Maria did something that made me wait and think.

Maria’s second daughter has recently turned three. Maria, having understood the principles of Agile mindset, by now knows what works best when it comes to teaching a child. Her younger daughter, Tia, is now three and has shown signs of stubbornness by throwing tantrums a few times. Tia needs to learn who is in control before this behaviour becomes a lifelong programming.

On another occasion when Tia is about to cry when her demand is not being fulfilled, to Tia’s surprise, Maria starts crying along with her, making the same loud crying sound. This confuses Tia in the first go and she suddenly stops crying. A few days later when Tia shows initial signs of throwing a tantrum in a supermarket, Maria lies down on the floor and starts kicking and screaming even louder. After two-three such incidents Tia understands that her mother, Maria, is in control. This is a perfect example to illustrate that ‘a person with the most flexibility in a system can influence the system’.

Law of requisite variety - Agile Mindset


Ross Ashby, an English psychiatrist, who was also a pioneer in the field of cybernetics, had a good hold in the systems theory. Systems theory, simply put in human context, is a study of social interdependence and interrelation. Ross derived this law, the law of requisite variety, from Systems theory. For our ease in this article we will call it the Agile Mindset

Agile Mindset is the ability of a person to succeed within a system is directly proportional to the flexibility of behaviour that person chooses to exhibit. Particularly in NLP, considering communication, if someone doesn’t understand what you are saying, you have to show flexibility in how creatively you can communicate whatever you want to convey in order to be understood. Just raising the volume and not changing the way to communicate will not help.

Be it in a relationship/friendship, in a group socially or at a workplace, a person who can communicate powerfully, in a variety of ways, eventually emerges as a leader.

When we want to communicate something to a person or a group of people, we are solely responsible for the communication to be successful. Giving up with the attitude of “They do not understand” is not a sign of a leader. We have to find creative ways, understand their perception, break through their assumptions and bring clarity around what it is that we want to convey.

From Steve Jobs to Mahatma Gandhi to a boyfriend in a successful relationship have one thing in common – their ability to communicate through language and behaviour, their clear intent and vision. Of course this follows their actions, but their leadership doesn’t take off if the flexibility in communication itself is missing.

Here are three simple tips of Agile mindset you could start developing today to boost your leadership skills:

People respond according to their perspective

A highly ambitious gentleman, Roger, approached a life coach and career counsellor, Anita, for help. Although overwhelmed by his progress and ever increasing responsibilities, Roger did not want to let go of his upcoming promotion. Anita was a learned and experienced coach with a lot of tools at her disposal and so rolled out a few processes for Roger to go through. Roger, who was already handling too much, took a step back after working through a couple of processes. It seemed like an additional task to him.

 Through a recommendation then Roger went to another coach Tina, whose approach was personalised. Tina first worked on the overwhelming emotional state of Roger without giving him any detailed processes. Roger, already fuelled with ambition, soon started making great progress in his career. With more time, he could go through other processes and bring more clarity to his life and career.

Tina, in this case, was able to see the world that Roger was living in. Her knowledge of psychology or the processes she knew weren’t enough, she had to get in his shoes and understand his state. We have to learn to get into the world that the other person lives in.


There is no failure, only feedback

Taking Anita from the above example, you may have taken her as a failure to be not able to deal with Roger successfully. However, she has a choice to take it as a failure or as a feedback to personalise her approach, learn more around her subject and above all, experiment more

Any situation that doesn’t show us the expected result is at the least a step for us to learn what to eliminate. Keep looking at such situations, reflect and take the feedback from it. Move on.


Your communication is as successful as a response it evokes

Remember: “Feedback is the breakfast of champions”. Always keep getting feedback, directly or indirectly, to understand if the other party is getting what you mean. Take active participation in getting feedback as much as in verbalising; communication is incomplete without it. When communicating to evoke action, actual actions that people take, is your greatest feedback.

Agile Mindset is extremely important to understand the other person’s map of the world, to change the focus from failure to feedback and to evoke the right responses we want. I will be writing more blogs that will possibly give practical insight into how to drill this understanding deep, until then do work on the three pointers above.

Beyond this, also remember that people are not necessarily their behaviour, they are much more than that. Many times they do not know how else to behave. We are able to see beyond their behaviour to the extent we have seen ourselves beyond our behaviour. So, self search, or understanding ourselves at a deeper level is of utmost importance. Keep finding ways to understand yourself better.


Blogs you would like to read:

Motivation is a dying methodology

Powerful tool for being Unstoppable at Commitments: Thought-Word-Action Alignment

Spiritual Fiction: Fears and hopes in dream and in reality.

About Author:

Shoonyo is a visionary and spiritual mentor. After 18 years of meditation and significant research into mind powers, NLP, martial arts practice with a black belt, healing practices, and deeper spiritual practices, he experienced the clarity of awakened space and began sharing with seekers.

Shoonyo worked as a business intelligence manager in London for 10 years. He abandoned an opulent international corporate career to guide people towards awakening space.

Shoonyo now runs 3 ventures in India; Corporate training and leadership, One:One mentoring, and a mental wellness NGO known as Shoonyo Foundation.

Other than business ventures, he has authored two books: " Looking for the obvious", an amazing work of spiritual fiction; and "Embodying Bhagavad Gita," a nine-month practical course on the Bhagavad Gita. He is Amazon's # 3 best-selling author and is cherished by elite readers.