Building the House from the Top Down

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From the intricacies of global markets to the formidable competitive landscape to the integration of new technology, our industry is facing rapid and expansive change. The challenges our leaders are facing can be daunting and even insurmountable unless they have the tools necessary to lead effectively in this complex world. And the fact is, a company is only as strong as its leaders.

That is why it is critical to teach our leaders survival skills to handle VUCA. What is VUCA, you ask? Well let’s begin with a history lesson: When the Cold War ended, the newly formed multilateral world presented challenges in all aspects of life that had never before been experienced. After the events in 2011, the acronym VUCA took hold and in 2012 Kinsinger & Walch characterized this new normal as having four primary dimensions: Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity.

By framing challenges using these four characteristics, leaders would be better prepared to handle them. Though the original premise was used to define global systems, the VUCA concept has been adopted by strategic business leaders to describe the chaotic, turbulent, and rapidly changing business environment leaders face and the factors that every leader must conquer to achieve business success.

However, if VUCA describes the challenges in the business world, how can leaders adjust their lens to become more astute and become better prepared to move forward and think differently? The answer: VUCA 2.0. This may provide leaders a clearer line of sight to handle the challenges they face every day.

So, how do we train our leaders to address the ever-changing environment through this new VUCA 2.0 lens? The goal is to transform each challenge into an opportunity as shown below:

  • Volatility becomes . . . . . VISION

  • Uncertainty becomes . . . UNDERSTANDING

  • Complexity becomes . . . COURAGE

  • Ambiguity becomes . . . . ADAPTABILITY

As you consider leadership and development training, recognize that one model or approach cannot fit all situations, but to teach leaders a new way of flexible thinking is to give them the most usable technique for meeting each unique challenge.

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