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How is VUCA impacting leaders in your organization?

Updated: May 31

We are now living in a VUCA world but what does it really mean?


The word VUCA is familiar to many of us today it is the acronym for Volatility, Uncertainty Complexity and Ambiguity. No one can deny that over the past few years the world as we have known it has changed dramatically e.g. Brexit, USA elections, European migration crisis and now we have Covid-19.


But where has the word VUCA evolve from and why is it being used in today’s corporate environment. VUCA was first used in 1987, drawing on the leadership theories of Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus – to describe or to reflect on the volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity of general conditions and situations. Then the U.S. Army War College

introduced the concept of VUCA to describe the more volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous multilateral world perceived as resulting from the end of the Cold War.

Cold War. Source: Wikipedia


Then the term VUCA began to be used in the 1990’s in the military that describes being in battle conditions you’ve never fought in before and it has now evolved into the corporate vocabulary meaning “Hey, it’s crazy out there!”


When you speak with many of today’s business leader’s they often say they feel they are under attack, fractured and they are being bullied by the corporate environment e.g. never ending emails, phone messages, deadlines changing, meetings and more meetings but limited time to take action and follow-up on action items. Plus, whoever has time to answer an office phone these days and just talk to a colleague and continuous travelling itineraries, relocation moves and on and on it goes with no relief insight.


Many leaders feel they can’t even go on holiday and leave the laptop behind because the corporate world demands 24/7 and if you won’t do it someone else will.


The impact is raining down on all leaders and especially the Senior Executives who need to respond to CEOs who are demanding answers as to how they will address the challenges of baby boomers retiring, succession planning, rapidly developing talent, optimizing retention levels and reimaging how business will change after Covid-19 to ensure the organization has the right people and programs in place to take the organization into the future and ensure the growth and future success of the organization.


No pressure!


However, in the past organizations looked to new products, reduced costs, reinvesting, acquisitions etc. but now our leaders and their teams need to be more strategic and innovative to develop their people to be more 'Adaptable and Agile' in order to underpin the future success of the organization. Because, without a clear path forward on how to develop these crucial capabilities and retain and develop our leaders within the organization, then the organization will falter and be left in a most undesirable position.

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