Welcome to the VUCA world – volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous.
VUCA was an acronym introduced by the U.S. Army War College to describe the Cold War period and aptly describes what we’re all living through now.
We are all adapting to this new environment, and how quickly we adapt will depend on how fast we can learn.
“We’re going to learn a lot about ourselves as leaders, as parents and as people,” says Elizabeth Zucker, 2019-2020 YPO Chairman.
The skills and mindsets required to lead in this environment are different to the skills and mindsets in times of relative economic and social stability. The environment is drastically different. That means we need to adapt significantly – our thinking, our expectations, our behaviours, our communications.
Leading through COVID-19 disruption is like walking a tightrope, delicately balancing people, performance, reality and opportunity.
In any given moment, we are either facing facts and meeting the reality of the current situation, or finding positives and leveraging opportunities. At the same time, we are either supporting people with compassion and empathy, or challenging them to push hard and meet the demands of the situation.
When plotted against two axes, we see that effectively balancing these four priorities means that leaders must pivot between four different responses to help their teams and businesses effectively adapt to the current environment.
I see these four response options as a cycle that keeps repeating whereby we:
To do hard work, to make positive decisions, to stay calm and extend compassion – it takes energy and focus. Leaders recognise this and adapt their style to meet the situation in order to make the changes necessary to survive.
So how do we pivot in each of these four quadrants?
We reassure to support people in facing facts and meeting the reality and constraints of the current situation. We reassure by:
We inspire to support people in finding the positives and maintaining a sense of hope that we will get through this if we work together. We inspire by:
We innovate to challenge people to look for opportunities so we survive and even thrive in this new environment. We innovate by:
We consolidate to challenge people to face the facts of our current situation and make the necessary changes to remain financially viable. We consolidate by:
Adapting your style and ensuring you spend balanced time in all four quadrants will ensure you’re not overplaying or underplaying this crisis. Yes – you need to ensure survival of your business, but to do so means more than simply just managing costs. There is a very human element to this situation and leaders take responsibility for lifting the human spirit and bringing out the best in themselves and their teams.
We can’t afford to make bad decisions. We can’t afford to not stop the spread. We can’t afford to let our economy fall.
We need good decision making, positive role models, and constructive thinking. Take on the challenge. Answer the call. Be a leader.
If you’d like to watch me present this model in a recent WEBINAR – click here and sign up to watch the free VOD.
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