In 1987, VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity) was first used as an acronym, outlined by “VUCA world” VUCA is based on the leadership theories of Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus.
It is said that volatility was used because the world is changing, unstable and unpredictable. Meanwhile, uncertainty was featured because unpredictability means we cannot rely on past experiences or patterns to forecast what might happen in the future.
Complexity was used because systems are now more complex than before with increased numbers of instant inter-connections. This means that it is impossible to understand the impact that an action or inaction in one part of the system will have across the system. And ambiguity because everything is grey, and there are few absolutes. This requires leaders to navigate challenging dilemmas that have no right answer.
For the reasons above, our leadership tips for 2022 focus on what is a constantly changing new reality.
Tip One – Be Far More Intentional
One of our previous blogs, The Trust Equation, explores trust and how we can use the trust equation to improve our performance. As Stephen Covey said, “trust is the glue of life” that holds all relationships together and is fundamental to building everything we do as leaders.
With hybrid working, many opportunities to build trust, belonging, and communication that happened incidentally during a typical working week no longer present themselves as easily. It is vital that we intentionally and purposely create authentic opportunities with our teams to express feelings and opinions in psychologically safe ways that build vulnerability and trust.
What conversations have you had with your teams about how you build trust? Or how you show vulnerability? How do you resolve differences or conflicts? What have you agreed together about how you work together?
Tip Two – Ask the Right Questions
It is not surprising that we look for solid answers when we are often pioneering new approaches with an uncertain future. But this often leads to us being limited and fixed rather than providing the agility and flexibility we need. Instead, we need to learn to rest with the uncertainty and focus on asking the right questions. A good question can open up incredible opportunities and future thinking.
Ozan Varol, in his blog “Don’t look for the right answer - try this instead.” says, “When we immediately launch into answer mode, we end up chasing the wrong problem. When we rush to identify solutions and fall in love with our diagnosis, our initial answer hides better ones lurking in plain sight. The difficulty lies, as John Maynard Keynes put it, “not in the new ideas, but in escaping from the old ones.”
What questions are you asking? How long do you spend asking questions rather than talking about the solution? Who asks questions that cause you to see a problem or context differently?
Tip Three: Carve Out Time for Future Performance
What dominates your time? If you were to write down how much time you spend on completing tasks, developing future capacity and capability, and building relationships, how would each one do?
Our blog on future-proofing team performance explores this in more depth. Still, we know that task completion - in other words, a focus on our current performance - can be a powerful dominating force that pushes out time to develop our capability and capacity, in other words, our future performance.
This is one area where ruthlessness is a good thing. How ruthless are you at carving out time for future development? How does your team learn together? What is the one area of development for the future capability you need to drive forward?
In our leadership tips for 2022, we have focused on elements that can make the most significant differences through small changes that you, as a leader, can implement. These ideas are straightforward, but they can be challenging to implement as you seek to form new habits and ways of working.
Having the support of a great coach will accelerate change and significantly improve your own performance as you look to implement our and your leadership tips for 2022.
Contact us today to learn more about what we do and how we can challenge and support your leadership journey.
Written by leadership coach Ian White.