4 Leadership Skills for a VUCA World

VUCA is an acronym that was developed out of the leadership theories by Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus in 1987. The acronym is used to help describe and reflect on the volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity of general conditions and situations in the world “today”. While aspects of the VUCA world have been around for over 40 years, COVID brings a new level for leaders across the globe.

Times like these can cause a leader to feel like they need to wait or hang on for the ride, but really they are times when leaders need to upgrade their skills and navigate through. There are four skills we talk about today to support leaders to do this with greater ease and mastery. While the work is in developing the skills, the starting place is understanding a few places to start. Developing these skills will aid leaders to move through this season with greater calm and confidence. Not only does that matter for your health as a leader, but also the health of your followers.

The 4 skills:

1. Comfort with VUCA vs. being uncomfortable (Getting frustrated or reacting shows a lack of comfort. Planning for Chaos and accepting uncertainty is a place to start. It builds grit. A level head helps humans to adapt, stay cool and responsive under pressure. The skills you have been practicing in mindfulness will help here!

2. Curiosity (The art of asking questions to size up what is different, new options and opportunities. It isn’t just about solutions, rather sizing up the situation. Fear can cause shut down, but as we push through fear, we can see signs, patterns and gifts. Develop a spirit of wonder and humility. Book referenced is: Humble Leadership.

3. Clarity (As a leader, we must share the vision, opportunities and the goal. This is about pointing in the direction and instilling faith for followers to understand where “we” are going and “why” it is worth it.)

4. Collaboration (It is not our job to tell them “how”. Brainstorms solutions for complex variables and innovative new ideas and ways to solve challenges. The collective wisdom of the group has greater answers then what any one leader could share. Movie referenced: Jumanji.