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Leadership in a Vuca World

Thunderbird School of Global Management Living and Leading In a VICUÑA World By Paul Slinger and Karen Wallach, Ph. D. The concept of a VOCAL world -? one that Is volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous -? was introduced by the U. S. Military as the Cold War ended and as the united States looked out over the emergence of a multilateral, rather than a bilateral, global landscape.

This meant being prepared to take on increasing challenges from asymmetrical opponents such as onstage militias and other loosely organized, sometimes almost “virtual” adversaries; to adapt rapidly to highly improvised paeans and tactics by those opponents; to respond quickly, effectively, and efficiently to the explosion of technology-enabled, but frequently contradictory battlefield Intelligence; and to address the Increasing ambiguity surrounding who was an “enemy combatant” versus who was an “Innocent civilian. These factors have played out “In spades” In both Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as In attempts to confront other VOCAL situations such as the pirate menace off the Somali coast and Intervening militarily In Libya. Being engrossed In such a turbulent, frequently unpredictable environment has given rise to new modalities for thinking about dervish in the armed services, especially at unit command levels that have borne the brunt of the need for quick, effective leadership and decision making.

The VOCAL concept was brought home to many Americans after 9/1 1 but really gained currency in the private sector with the onset of the financial crisis in 2008-09, when companies and organizations all over the world suddenly found themselves faced with similar turbulence in their business environments and, subsequently, in their business models. Although the financial crisis has bottomed out and global growth is slowly turning, many organizations are experiencing a “new normal” In their business environments and are realizing that the pre-crash world -? and Its paradigms -? are gone.

As one author has noted, “We are moving from a world of problems, which demand speed, analysis, and elimination of uncertainty to solve, to a world of dilemmas, which demand patience, sense-making, and an engagement of uncertainty. ” Thus, leadership thinkers have been turning to lessons learned from the military to create paradigms for surviving and thriving in a turbulent, “permanent whitewater” world where old styles of managing predictability were falling short.

This research shows that the keys to leading in a VI-CA world include possessing the knowledge, mindfulness, and ability to: 1 . Create a vision and “make sense of the world. ” Sense-making is perhaps more important now than at any time in modern history for many companies, as we are not too many years away from the time when the global economy will actually be truly “global,” encompassing every country and in which competitors will be emanating from everywhere. 2. Understand one’s own and others’ values and intentions. This speaks to having a core ability to know what you want to be and where you want to go at all times, even while being pen to multiple ways to get there. 3.

Seek clarity regarding yourself and seek sustainable relationships and solutions. Leading in turbulence demands the ability to utilize all facets of the human mind. Even the most impressive cognitive minds will fall short in the VICUÑA world -? it will take equal parts cognitive, social, emotional, spiritual, and physical intelligence to prevail. 4. Practice agility, adaptability and buoyancy. This means the responsive and resilient ability to balance adroitly and right yourself to ride out those turbulent forces that cannot be avoided, and to pivot quickly to seize advantage of those that can be harnessed. 5. Develop and engage social networks. The ability to recognize that the days of the single “great leader” are gone.

In the VICUÑA world, the best leaders are the ones who harness leadership from everyone. 2. Source: misinterpretation. Com VICUÑA is an acronym used by the American Military to describe extreme conditions in Afghanistan and Iraq. It stands for Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous. This terminology is resonating with an increasing number of Coos as we try to make sense of the constantly changing challenges brought on by politics, economics, society and the environment. We seem to be shifting from an approach based around problem solving and planning aimed at reducing uncertainty, to a world where progress is made by actively engaging with uncertainty, requiring higher levels of leadership agility.

Here are some of the success factors we have identified around leading effectively in a VICUÑA world: * Always retain a clear vision against which Judgments 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 oratories, 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. * Capitalist 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 peccaries expertise and Judgment 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 behaviors. Take leaps of faith and enjoy the adventure. Impact’s work, whether it be with multi-national companies, Seems, governments, public sector organizations or not for profits, often centre around creating powerful, facilitated encounters that recreate a VICUÑA world in a real and consequential way. We pride ourselves on developing leaders who have sufficient agility, dynamism and responsiveness to navigate through the VICUÑA landscape.