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What You Need to Lead in a VUCA World

The best descriptors of the world we live in today are volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous – a.ka. VUCA...If you’re a leader in this VUCA world we live in, you have a huge responsibility on your shoulders. But, how do you manage the myriad of negative emotions and tendencies created by it? Find your answers as you read through this inspiring piece of write-up!
There are so many changes that happen everyday and these changes In various realms including technology, business, politics, culture and more occur so fast that it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.

As a result, many business operations struggle to keep up with global trends that are greatly influenced by new values, legal policies and technology. Some of them are so ill-prepared that they end up folding because their output can be produced much faster by bigger companies that can invest in smarter and innovative solutions.
What You Need to Lead in a VUCA World
Employees, meanwhile, are stressed by more competitive procedures that accommodate industry developments. Many of them, after much introspection, realize they are not indispensable and their abilities or skills may soon become irrelevant.

Indeed the world is VUCA and it can just drive anybody “loca.”

If you’re a leader in this VUCA world we live in, you have a huge responsibility on your shoulders. But, how do you manage the myriad of negative emotions and tendencies created by it? How do you not get sucked into the worry, stay motivated and able to extend a positive outlook to your subordinates?

Your Arsenal of Principles as a Leader

There’s nothing like having a trove of time-tested lessons on leadership to help you stay effective in being at the forefront of your organisation. Here are the principles you should uphold:

Don’t focus on the hardships – just do!

No matter how difficult things get or how unsure you are of outcomes, do what you need to do. Make sure you try with an “oomph” to boost chances of a triumph. Also, remember that most things seem impossible at first but if you focus on what you and your team can do, before you know it, things are done. Don’t waste time over-analysing things or complaining, instead, direct attention on what can be done right away.

Continuous learning is an absolute must

Having a personal culture of study will improve and increase your skills, which will provide you more resources to work with in your leadership. Sign up for business leadership coaching and learn new values or refresh how you perceive your role as a leader. Developing new skills and learning more lessons are deemed very effective in dealing with the uncertainty of this era.

This principle of continuous learning is can help you outwork insecurities and will provide you something to fall back on should what you’ve been relying on for a long time fails in the future. You can trust new lessons and skills to be your “sources of continuity” in volatile conditions.

Recognize the strengths and study the weaknesses of your subordinates

Taking time to evaluate the members of your team will provide you a solid idea on how to “utilize” them better, allowing all of you to remain relevant despite the fast-evolving dynamics in the industry. At the same time, this will create the opportunity to develop team members so they too can become “more” for the organization that you all belong to.

Communicate better

Knowing how to open communication lines will reveal everyone’s concerns and also create an avenue for creative ideas to flow.

When you and your team are able to stay creative, you’ll find yourselves better prepared for the complexity and the ambiguity of the world. Instead of feeling defeated and pushed to the edge with nowhere to turn, you’ll view difficult situations as exciting challenges that will flex your creative muscle.

Give credit to whom credit is due

Showing your appreciation for the hard work of the people toiling with you will provide them the assurance they need with their position in the organization. It’s important to have them know that they did their job well and that they have contributed to the success (be it increased sales, or meeting the deadline for a project) of your operations. If you do not recognize the good they accomplished, you will create feelings of insecurity for them.

Insecurity can be advantageous in certain instances; it can push workers to try harder. However, it’s more common for insecurity to drive people to other places (i.e. employers) where they can feel more secure, or to stop giving their best because their best is not recognized anyway. Basically, the two things that are likely to happen are – you lose valuable people, and you retain employees that are not interested to “fight” the world with you to protect your operations.

To be a good leader in this VUCA world, you must be able to recognise good work and correctly demonstrate appreciation.

Avoid micromanaging the members of your team

Most people describe micromanaging as the perfect demonstration of a leader’s lack of confidence in his team. You may have people working with you who were initially confident but because of your tendency to inspect, inquire about and instruct every little thing, they may lose belief in what they are capable of.

Micromanaging is often counterproductive because it often shames someone or it can make someone too dependent on you as his or her leader.  If you want to lead a team that is pro-active, you better know how to give the members space to do their job without feeling like every little thing is judged and requires your approval.

If this is your tendency, learn how to put a stop to it; try management coaching to learn smarter approaches to managing your team and its tasks.

How to Take Care of Yourself So You Can Be a More Effective Leader

As a leader, you can’t let a VUCA world get the best of you. Naturally, the demand for your attention, time and skills will grow, and at times, you may feel already feel deflated and burned out. You won’t be making much of a positive impact on your team if you’re stretched to your limits, so learn how to take care of yourself.

Find a hobby that’s completely separate from what you normally do

Enrol in a dance class and improve your body coordination. Study the art of Japanese tea ceremony and learn how follow definite, deliberate, yet slow processes. You need to have activities that can neutralise how your brain usually works. Tap into a part of your mind that’s removed from the stress of work.


This is one of the practices of many of the most successful people in the world. Through meditation, they are able to empty their mind, focus on their breathing, relearn the natural rhythm of their body, and rejuvenate themselves. Meditation is a top stress-busting activity to boost your physical and mental wellness. Remind yourself that there are things in this crazy world that you can still control

You cannot control your government, or the changes in your industry, but you can control how you act and feel about them. If you’re feeling too jittery because you’re unsure of what tomorrow holds for you, you can start by ditching coffee. Another thing you can do is to journal the changes in the world and brainstorm ways to deal with these changes.

A VUCA world is beyond anybody’s control but you can limit the control it has on you as a person and as a leader. Just believe that you have the natural ability to overcome, you have imagination, there are people around you who also have skills, and countless tomorrows to get things right.

Copyrights © 2023 Inspiration Unlimited eMagazine

Any facts, figures or references stated here are made by the author & don't reflect the endorsement of iU at all times unless otherwise drafted by official staff at iU. This article was first published here on 11th April 2017.
Salma El Shurafa
An experienced Executive Coach and founder of The Pathway Project.

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