“Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.”
While you might have generally heard this quote in the world of finance and investments, it is applicable to almost all walks of our lives. Now more than ever, in this fast and rapid world, it perfectly relates to the state of business leaders.
As market instability renders the conventional practices obsolete, the traditional leadership standard is changing and changing fast. We now live in a VUCA world where turbulence, dynamism, rapid change, disruption, hyper-competition, and complexity are the order of the day.
It is essential for business leaders to be agile and rapidly shift from the traditional practices, experiences, and paradigms to survive and grow in this uncontrollable environment. According to a report by PMI, 92% of the C-level executives believe that organizational agility is critical to business success. But only about 27% of them consider themselves to be highly agile.
But the good news is, this whole transition to be more agile is a process that can be learned and mastered. But before delving into that, let us have a quick overview of what VUCA stands for.
What is VUCA?
The acronym VUCA stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity. The term was coined around the 1990s by the U.S. Army to better describe the uncertain world after the Cold War.
But the relevance of this term in the modern corporate world is evident as it effectively defines the current state of how businesses are now conducted around the globe.
Leading a business in a world that is getting increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous makes it necessary for the leaders to seek a unique orientation or a fresh approach that involves keeping the door open for competencies and keeping the leadership team focused. Read this post to see where you stand?
How Does VUCA Impact Businesses of Today?
A deeper understanding of each element that makes VUCA can provide a greater understanding of the environment it creates. They better explain the behavioural and systemic failures that are common in business environments.
- Volatility (V)- Volatility is all about the rate at which the world is changing. It is fast, turbulent, sudden, and highly unpredictable.
- Uncertainty (U)- Critical details are often incomplete, unclear, doubtful, or definite. They cannot be relied upon to understand the present or make decisions for the future.
- Complexity (C)- Multiple connected parts that need to work together. Adaptation, weak signals, the interaction between agents, multiple decision factors, and co-evolution make business functioning complex.
- Ambiguity (A)- Multitude of potential outcomes resulting from multiple options. A single event or decision can lead to various interpretations.
When looked upon individually, the VUCA environment might not seem as volatile or complex. But what leaders often fail to consider that these elements are interrelated and together make the environment. While it might be easier to tackle them individually, the task is Herculean when they join forces together.
While the challenges are aplenty, knowing and developing the characteristics that this world demands is an effective way out.
How to Identify Where You Stand?
Identifying where you stand as a leader in the VUCA world is probably the correct step before you start working towards the transition. Here are a few questions that can help with the self-assessment-
- What do all the recent changes/events mean for your business?
- Are you or your team feeling more anxious or stressed about the future?
- What are the things that you are completely in control of?
- What are the priorities on your to-do list?
- Are you or your team feeling a heightened sense of disengagement or lack of focus?
- Is your organization effectively working towards the objectives?
- Are you finding it difficult to provide logical answers to the questions asked by your managers/team?
Try to answer these questions as accurately as possible. It should provide a sort of overview of how you, your employees, and the organization are prepared to survive and grow in the VUCA world. However, I would highly recommend an evaluation or an information session from an expert to identify where you and your business currently stands.
Leadership Characteristics Needed to Lead in the VUCA World
Here are a few characteristics business leaders should focus upon-
Lead by Example
In VUCA times, this may become especially critical to tide the wave of uncertainties and ambiguity. In my response to Forbes experts panel on ‘Mistake, leaders make that sets a bad example’, I mentioned ‘You must hold yourself accountable before you hold your team accountable.
Work towards building an organizational environment where qualities such as critical thinking, social/emotional intelligence, and cognitive readiness are encouraged and rewarded. Check out this post where Daniel Kasper, CEO of Wishlist Rewards, offers some great insights into how leaders and managers can better connect to their people.
Have clear objectives that you’d like your business to achieve in the future. This will help spark motivation while also forging effectiveness and identity vital for achieving the goal.
Tribulations and failures are nothing to be abashed about. However, resilient leaders fail forward and recover quickly. Work towards being a resilient leader that just fail to give up. Download this E-book on resilient leadership to learn more.
Developing empathic behaviour and being more concerned about humans, in general, is also a step in the right direction.
Are You Ready for the VUCA World?
The VUCA world is not just about having the knowledge, people, skills, or tools to support your business. It is more about the leadership style with significant emphasis on being collaborative and agile.
Business leaders should be innovative and creative enough to lead people towards practical solutions to help businesses survive, compete, and grow amid the rising volatility and ambiguity.
Schedule a no-obligation information session with me, and let me help you and your organization build characteristics that this complex VUCA world demands.