Article: Leading in a VUCA World

Volatile. Uncertain. Complex. Ambiguous. Organizational success requires adaptation. 

Welcome to the VUCA era!

Edwin Mouriño, PhD
Assistant Vice President
Senior Consultant


VUCA stands for volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous, a concept that emerged from the military in the 1990's. While the concept of VUCA is now several decades old, it becomes truer as time passes. In 2000, who would have thought businesses like AirBnB and Uber would exist? Organizational success requires adaption, as technology advances, workforce demographics evolve and employee expectations change.

People respond to change in different ways, often resulting in a common leadership challenge: resistance. Resistance can be motivated by a lack of understanding, a dislike of the change or a lack of trust in those making the change. It is vital for a leader to understand how people respond to change and have proven leadership strategies in place before engaging in a change initiative.

The BB&T Leadership Institute is committed to ensuring leaders are prepared and bring their best mindset to the organization’s workforce. Here are some things to think about when leading your teams through change

  1. Clearly define the vision of the future state. Lack of vision creates confusion.
  2. Have a clear game plan. Lack of clarity results in false starts.
  3. Ensure team members understand the right incentives (or what’s in it for them). Without this component, the pace of change will be slow.
  4. Leverage the appropriate skills to address the changes. This will reduce the anxiety your workforce will experience.
  5. Have the necessary resources in place. This will help avoid creating a frustrated workforce.

Resources

Slocum, D. (2013) Six creative leadership lessons from the military in an era of VUCA and COIN(opens in a new tab). Retrieved from Forbes.

Maurer R. (2010). Beyond the wall of resistance. Bard Press. Austin, TX.

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