Leadership Decision Making in a VUCA World


Leadership Decision Making in a VUCA World

Today’s business environment is best described as VUCA – Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous. VUCA is, quite simply, the expression of the fact that the rate of change is outpacing our ability to adapt.

As a result of this, businesses, industries and careers are disrupted faster than ever before. We have to seriously rethink about how we lead ourselves, others and our organisations. Old ways of leadership have to give way to newer mental models based on agility in decision making, critical thinking, adaptable learning, people orientation and responsiveness to change.

Whilst none of us is really in control of our environment, most of us are working hard to anticipate the changing conditions of our business.

In his series of blogs in HBR late 2010 – early 2011, the late former US Army Colonel Eric Kail outlined adaptive leadership tactics for operating in a VUCA world –

For Volatile Situations…

  • Communicate clearly
  • Ensure that your intent is understood

 

For Uncertain Situations…

  • Get a fresh perspective
  • Be flexible

 

For Complex Situations…

  • Develop collaborative leaders
  • Stop seeking permanent solutions

 

For Ambiguous Situations…

  • Listen well
  • Think divergently
  • Set up incremental dividends

 

While his advice was constructed within the context of small-unit combat activities in the military I believe it is easily convertible into applications for all organisations.

The antidote to VUCA is about moving from Volatility to Vision, from Uncertainty to Understanding, from Complexity to Clarity and from Ambiguity to Agility. This means exercising leadership in every aspect of our lives and exercising leadership means making wise decisions.

Adapted from: “Adaptive Leadership for the VUCA World: A tale of Two Managers”, Paul Kinsinger, June 6, 2016, Global Business Magazine

 

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