A previous article in our series of Board Insights highlighted the high level of turbulent change now inherent in the business world. The nature of this change is summarised by the acronym VUCA.
Volatility; rate, nature, speed, volume, and magnitude of change that is not in a predictable pattern.
Uncertainty; unclear about the present, making it difficult to forecast future outcomes due to a lack of predictability.
Complexity; multiple complex factors both inside and outside an organisation which creates challenges around decision making.
Ambiguity; lack of clarity about meaning which can lead to organisational ambiguity, e.g., internal silo driven accomplishments failing to deliver sustainable external success.
In her article (Board Effectiveness) my colleague at Collingwood Consulting, Jennifer Jones, discussed the challenges of VUCA and how future leaders will need to deal with far more change and disruption than their predecessors. Jennifer emphasised the critical need for the right leadership capabilities and behaviours to respond to these challenges. We’ve been reflecting on how leaders should respond to the disruptive nature of VUCA change and, in doing so, engaged with the VUCA Prime model (Johansen, 2011) which provides a leadership ‘anti-dote’ to VUCA and, in doing so, proposes that the best leaders in a changing environment are characterised by their;
Vision - a focus on clarity, risk, innovation and opportunity to counter volatility.
Understanding - extending beyond functional silo areas through awareness, communication, networking and collaboration.
Clarity - aligning clear decisions and communications with individual and team roles as well as organisational context.
Agility - fast, decisive teamwork, speedy critical decision making and efficient execution.
By focusing on these leadership characteristics an organisation can create a strategy that recognises a VUCA environment and also align the skills, attributes and behaviours of their Executive leadership team to steer the organisation through the turbulent waters of change and deliver sustainable success.
Our latest White Paper ‘Strategic Leadership Development’ provides more details on developing leaders in a VUCA environment and this is also discussed in our podcast Executive Effectiveness.