Adaptive Leadership for the VUCA World: A Case study of Two Managers (Part 4)

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Continuing our business tale that started some weeks ago; on the reactions to the environmental factors that tips decisions and actions in business and organisational circumstances in times of turbulence, both locally and globally; —in this times of rapid rate of changes— which are swirling around many of us, tipping us this way and that, as we attempt to navigate a safe passage through them all.

How companies and employees cope with the dynamism and rapid unpredictable changes that defines the VUCA world over the last few years is a paramount fascination to our personal guide to escape, survival, sustainability and success, both as an organisation and individuals; hence our interest and the privilege of the offer of the unique window on how the two different managers reacted to environmental and organisational dynamism and the effect.

As espoused by the two manager’s stands, convictions, reactions and overall results, and in conclusion of the discussion;

We revisit the case study in focus – 

… An Engaged and Impactful Leader, as the test case –

So, what have been the results of the second leader’s adaptation? Being able to let go of many past measures of success has allowed the leader to be open faster and more agnostically to new performance imperatives from both the client base and from within the organization. While this manager still has some business growth goals to meet, he has re-oriented much of his portfolio growth strategy toward more complex and risky, but more lucrative, potential client engagements—the kind that are the future of the business. He has also steadily embraced new performance measures by trying to put personal insecurities aside and bring humility to his development. Similarly, his ability to embrace working with the contradictions and paradoxes that often accompany uncertainty and ambiguity has helped him keep his team fully engaged in the organization’s vision and strategy.

Keeping his ego in check in the face of an extraordinary career move and demonstrating a keen desire to keep learning has gradually earned him newfound respect from others in the organisation—a crucial characteristic for VUCA times when employees are constantly looking for leaders who can acknowledge their own imperfections and willingness to try to address them. Moreover, the active learning “gene” has helped the manager get the new skill sets under his belt as well as to be a role model, first for his team, and gradually for others. Indeed, the ability to embrace learning, “un-learning,” and “re-learning” is critical for leaders in the VUCA world, where many bodies of knowledge are changing so fast and information and insight becomes irrelevant quickly.

Finally, this leader’s ability to remain open and welcoming to everyone in the organisation—another practice that is grounded in humility and self-awareness—has resulted in the gradual gaining of trust and a spread of this manager’s influence with many employees, peers, and bosses. This, too, has been critically important to the organisations overall leadership posture in VUCA times, as employees look for leaders to be available and to communicate often and honestly; as peers look to each other for ideas, support, and easy collaboration; and as senior leaders look for ideas, honest feedback, and clear input into, and loyalty toward, the vision, mission, and strategy.

This leader has some distance yet to go in adapting his leadership for VUCA times—no question—and he admits to it. Goals include further enhancement of some critical skill sets that essentially require facing up to longstanding insecurities about innate abilities, as well as continued shaping of his communication style toward more “straight-shooting” and away from the kind of “sugar-coating” that has, in the past, left some to doubt the intent and value of his comments. Leaders who hold back out of fear and whose words are discounted or interpretable are in danger of being rip-tided in VUCA times.

Still, this leader has made enormous strides toward adapting to VUCA times, and is increasingly making a positive impact on the business and organisational culture, with their attendant personal rewards.

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Addressing the Challenges of Adaptability –

The need for humans to adapt is nothing new and indeed, those who point out that humankind has faced even more dramatic adaptation imperatives in the past are no doubt right. That said, we are where we are in the history of human development and in the scope and pace of dynamic change in the marketplace and in our organisations. A failure to meet the challenges will leave many companies behind and the human capital potential of their employees unfulfilled.

At IDEAS Exchange Consulting, we work with globally focused companies and organisations from many industries and fields of endeavour (especially among the micro, small and medium scale enterprises – MSMEs) to help their leaders develop or further enhance their ability to adapt to turbulent times. We help leaders become more comfortable and agile with ambiguous and seemingly contradictory demands through focusing on managing paradoxes. We focus on the skills and mindsets that it takes to move nimbly and often without specific authority in making fast decisions through influencing and networking. We address the need for speed and for bringing all applicable resources to bear for impact in collaborating across silos. And, we focus on the self-awareness, reflection, and the need for quick recovery from failure in sessions on resiliency. Above all, we help leaders embrace a mindset of change that is so critical in navigating the turbulent times of the VUCA world that we all live in now, especially in our beloved country.

Some observers downplay the concept of VUCA, claiming that there is no way of knowing whether or not these times are any more turbulent than many in the past, but researches has pointed out that from 1980 to 2010 and now, companies has faced an increasingly rapid rate of change that was more dynamic, taking place more often, and long lasting than has ever occured in any other time.

In retrospect, this act pointed to a predisposition to the kind of adaptability it would take to thrive and lead in an organisation facing a VUCA world and the paradoxes that characterise organisational balance in the VUCA world. As well as how in VUCA World, Maximising Business Results with the Strategic Performance Framework and Cultural Orientations guide works and activities in any organisation that is facing rapid change.

As we end this discourse, I will like to remind everyone of the imperativeness of constant personal development and search for in depth knowledge in the area of study in focus to keep up with the subject dynamism.

 

******Nwaodu Lawrence Chukwuemeka (Ideas Exchange Consulting).

 nwaodu.lawrence@hotmail.co.uk (07066375847).

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