Leadership in a Time of Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity

We’ve often referred to Stowe Boyd and his musings. Awhile back, we referenced the implications of social business networking based on Stowe Boyd’s presentation on “Postnormal Business“.

Let’s now explore the four drivers of the Postnormal era: the VUCA syndrome.

Volatility – Things are moving, evolving, changing, and disappearing faster and faster all the time.

Uncertainty – It’s harder to predict what is coming, what to do, and what the results will be.

Complexity – The business world is becoming far more complex, media is highly fragmented, and it’s harder to see the woods for the trees.

Ambiguity – Decision makers are less decisive, issues are less clear, and choices are less obvious.

As a business leader, what can you do to cope with – indeed, prevail – in this turbulent environment? Here’s what Stowe Boyd suggests:

Counter Volatility with Vision.

Neuter Uncertainty through Understanding.

Master Complexity through Clarity.

Resolve Ambiguity through Agility.

To take these leadership challenges a few steps further, ask yourself:

Do you have a clear and compelling vision? Have you taken the time and effort to ensure everyone in your organization understands your vision, why it matters to them, and how they individually can help you achieve it?

Do you really understand what drives people to act in this environment? Remember, your employees, customers, prospects, shareholders, and partners are also experiencing VUCA in their personal and professional lives. Having empathy for them goes a long way to determining what you need to do in order to get them to help you make the changes you need.

Do you see things with clarity, or do they become increasingly complex with every meeting, every conference call, or every customer meeting? It pays to bring in people from the outside to help you get a better grip on the dynamic world around you, but it won’t help if they’re people just like you. Bring in people with a fresh perspective that will help you see the forest for the trees.

Do you run an agile organization, or are traditions, processes, second guesses, and doubts keeping your company from being able to jump over hurdles as they are encountered? Analyze information flows and behavior patterns to identify blockages and stumbling blocks in the progress.

VUCA promotes undesirable attitudes and behaviors in organizations. Uncertain, confused, and slow-to-respond businesses lose customers, employees, partners, investors, and reputation.

Many leaders are seeing that the effects of VUCA can be countered by defining a compelling and accessible purpose beyond profit that drives new attitudes and behaviors within the business. This new meaning-based way of being resonates with customers and prospects, making them more likely to admire, respect, and buy from the business.

Emotive Brand is an Oakland based brand strategy and creative agency.

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