A VUCA world needs more VUCA leaders

VUCA has become a popular acronym in recent times to describe the world we are living in. It stands for Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous. It certainly describes the challenges that most organisations face as industries are disrupted daily, which has been further accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic.

Disruption from technology, which was already changing faster than we humans could adapt, has been further accelerated by the necessity this crisis has brought. As a result, the nature of work has already changed for millions of employees, and their expectations are shifting as a result of working differently.

The reality is that the pace of change we are experiencing now is the slowest we are going to experience; it is only going to accelerate. Faced with economic reality and ongoing uncertainty about what recovery will look like and how long it will take, many organisations will have to make some difficult decisions and significant changes in response. Some organisations may need to do ten years’ worth of organisational change in the next ten months.

Therein lies a big dilemma. Newfound levels of trust, built up as many organisations have shown that they care about their employees, their safety and wellbeing during the pandemic will quickly turn to suspicion if survival decisions signal that making money is more important than people.

Faced with this challenge, we are convinced that leaders and organisations will need the right skills and behaviours to survive, adapt and thrive.

The new VUCA leadership behaviours

As organisations respond to the challenges of our VUCA world, we believe that the next generation of successful leaders will be VUCA too – Valiant, Understanding, Compassionate and Authentic. These are the bold new leadership skills which will be essential to inspire their people through the ambiguity and gain the trust of customers and other stakeholders:

  • Valiant – the courage to be curious and comfortable with not knowing, passionate about the need for fresh and bold ideas, and determined to do the right thing
  • Understanding – always seeking to understand how others think and feel, including colleagues, customers and communities
  • Compassionate – consistently thoughtful, caring and kind to others, even in the most challenging of circumstances
  • Authentic – genuine, honest and transparent at all times, being true to your values, showing vulnerability as well as strength

If you would like to explore how I can help you to navigate change in your world, drop me a line at joss@changeoasis.com and I’d be happy to have a conversation with you.

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