As a business owner (and leader), do you know what V.U.C.A is?
Here’s why you should be aware of it, and how it’s already impacting you and your company?
Even though 2020/21 has been a challenging time for many businesses, it’s safe to say that some have prospered, some have been put on hold (hoping that they will survive once things open back up) while some have sadly failed to survive.
Although business success has varied there will be some common challenges facing each and every business owner and leader moving forward. It might be political issues, environmental issues or operational issues related to running one of the many business functions. Yet potentially the largest challenge, and by some way I predict, is going to be with people. Attracting the right people, developing these people, caring for them and then after all that investment, retaining talent.
Why is this such an increasing challenge? Why is the ‘Great Resignation’ upon us?
The current discussion around flexibility of remote working is a bit of a distraction from what is really going on. Sure, employee wellbeing has seen a meteoric rise but this is just surface level evidence that employment, from an employee perspective, has changed. What we are witnessing is that people’s priorities have rearranged and what is most important to them has changed.
If we are to be honest, this was happening well before the impact of the pandemic. However it would be naive to ignore it has been accelerated the speed of change due to the lockdown situations people have experienced over the last year. You have new insights on what is important to you in life and you have new routines and behavioural habits that have formed during this period. Some of which you would like to keep and do not remove once things open back up.
This is a good moment to introduce the term V.U.C.A. and why it is quite possible this change in attitude, the way we look at work and in turn business leadership, is here to stay.
V.U.C.A is an acronym that stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity.
It describes a situation and period of time where there is constant, unpredictable change. For certain industries in the business world due to events or technology disruption, VUCA is now just a fact of life… it is how it is!
What VUCA really brings to attention is that traditional, outdated business approaches to management and leadership, some of which originate from the industrial revolution, are no longer adequate to enable a business to thrive. The stability and security once provided by an employer can no longer be offered by a business owner and this means other values and value-alignment have to be relied upon to inspire and motivate a workforce.
With the rise of psychometric testing, coaching and a focus on employee wellbeing, we can see that the dial is beginning to move away from the restraints of methodologies where an employee is someone that is just an important piece of a production line. There was a time when this was ok for the employee as well because job security and the community within the organisation was good enough.
What we have seen over the last decade in particular, is a real shift in the purpose behind an employee seeking a particular employer or company. It is no longer solely focused on security. Sure, security still registers as important for some and yet there is also an expectation of alignment in values and a sense of belonging to the right tribe. A tribe to enable the person to be positively motivated, encouraged and given the opportunity to reach their full potential. A tribe that recognises and embraces that people have a life outside of work. This is where the role of leadership comes in.
Let’s look at a literal definition of Leadership:
“Someone who has a clear vision of a better world, with a problem or pain solved, then able to articulate and communicate that vision to other people and inspire them to change and follow them on a journey.”
To be a good business leader in a VUCA time, that person must have to have the ability to clearly communicate their vision and purpose to succeed in business. Not much changes here! However, the big shift is that it is almost a necessity in a VUCA time to have flexibility in how you can adapt your communication to all the individuals you lead to allow you to motivate and maintain their alignment and interest in your business. This is leading with emotional intelligence.
Here’s the thing, this ability to lead with emotional intelligence can only be achieved consistently if the Leader is operating from a good place, a place with self-awareness. They have to be aware of their own emotional states and triggers, having the tools and ability to then control their own emotion states. Then, and only then, are you able to be fully open up and with your own behaviour preferences aside understand other people’s emotions and motivations. Without this skill, there is every chance moving forwards you will find it hard to consistently attract, lead and most importantly retain talent for your business.
So, before we react to the issue we face, focusing on employees, we need to proactively focus on the leaders. Give them the tools which then allow them to have a greater impact on those they are responsible for.
Let’s help Leaders become better leaders!