The other day, I was listening to a banker talking about the volatility of financial markets. She used a term I hadn’t heard before – VUCA. It’s a military term used by forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and it stands for ‘Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous’. “Wow”, I thought, “that sure sounds like my life!
So, I googled VUCA and found a website about using military lessons learned for corporate leadership. And my intuition didn’t steer me wrong – these lessons really are absolutely relevant to caregivers. Because our world is always volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous.
According to Impact International, a business consulting firm in the area of organisational development, here are the indicators for successful leadership in a VUCA world:
- Always retain a clear vision against which judgements can be made, with agility to flex and respond appropriately to rapidly unfolding situations.
- Provide clear direction and consistent messaging against a backdrop of continually shifting priorities, supported with the use of new virtual modes of communication where necessary.
- Anticipate risks but don’t invest too much time in long-term strategic plans. Don’t automatically rely on past solutions and instead place increased value on new, temporary solutions, in response to such an unpredictable climate.
- Think big picture. Make decisions based as much on intuition as analysis.
- Capitalise on complexity. If your talent management strategy is working, then you should be confident that you have the right people in the right place. This will enable you to rapidly break down any challenge into bite size pieces and trust in the specialist expertise and judgement of those around you.
- Be curious. Uncertain times bring opportunities for bold moves. Seize the chance to innovate.
- Encourage networks rather than hierarchies – as we reach new levels of interconnection and interdependency collaboration yields more than competition.
- Leverage diversity – as our networks of stakeholders increase in complexity and size, be sure to draw on the multiple points of view and experience they offer. Doing so will help you expect the unexpected.
- Never lose focus on employee engagement. Provide strategic direction, whilst allowing people the freedom they need to innovate new processes, products and services.
- Get used to being uncomfortable. Resist the temptation to cling on to outdated, inadequate processes and behaviours. Take leaps of faith and enjoy the adventure.