The coronavirus pandemic has caused business leaders to re-think just about everything. Because we have just gotten more VUCA dumped on us than we ever wanted.
What is VUCA? It’s a hugely important concept for business leaders, especially right now. Here’s how Wikipedia summarizes it:
VUCA is an acronym – first used in 1987, drawing on the leadership theories of Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus – to describe or to reflect on the volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity of general conditions and situations. The U.S. Army War College introduced the concept of VUCA to describe the…world perceived as resulting from the end of the Cold War. More frequent use and discussion of the term “VUCA” began from 2002 and…has subsequently taken root in emerging ideas in strategic leadership that apply in a wide range of organizations, from for-profit corporations to education.
Let’s think about this for a minute. If the entire business environment around us has changed/is changing; if uncertainly is the new normal; then that means our leadership approach needs to be up-to-date.
I’m thinking there are at least three traits a VUCA-effective leader must be exercising and growing in as a top priority:
- Nimbleness – leaders need agility to react to a rapidly-evolving (volatile) environment;
- Clarity – leaders need to be able to think and speak with clear direction in an uncertain and ambiguous world;
- Empathy – VUCA creates fear, and leaders need to be human in their style of serving and leading others.
In a more static “normal,” these leadership traits may have seemed more like a luxury. Now, they’re a must-have.
How is your organization implementing a leadership development approach that includes these traits? Are your programs designed to help people flex and evolve in a VUCA world? Would love to hear your perspectives as on-the-ground leaders and practitioners.
Further reading: 12 Critical Competencies for Leadership in the Future (very helpful graphic in this article)