We live in VUCA–World. In this space, all business drivers are inconstant and undependable in their behaviors. Organizations are suddenly showing erratic unexplained business outcomes. No more quarterly and half-yearly plans seem tenable. When the waters turn turbid & turbulent, and the boat starts to rock, there is a natural tendency to move into a focused, task-oriented approach. It is the prerequisite for Senior Leadership to measure up to deal with business contingencies. People down the line in the pyramid look at the Leadership for direction to stay on course. For them, Leaders are the only ray of hope.
I have rarely seen organizations probing the behaviors at the absolute top of the Pyramid. At the outset, let us start with the cliched premise that the buck stops at the top. If any organization is facing turbulence, it is to do with its stewardship. In my experience in the projects of behavioral modifications, I have noticed that the absolute top of the Pyramid does not focus much on its development. There is a presumption, the fact I have moved to the top is a reflection of my competence. However, the fallacy here is that the same behaviors that brought us to the top become the culprits of our failure. Behaviors of the past are not the edifice of the future.
Let us elaborate upon this with an example. A professional becomes successful as a foot soldier and is thus promoted to become a manager. The problem here is the success behaviors of the past create a superstition that these are the correct behaviors to demonstrate. Specific changes do set in should the individual go through rough times. However, these changes are not statistically determined. This journey of the most preferred behaviors thus continues to the top. So what we experience is just a minor shift in self-determined behaviors and therefore start the noise element in the leadership practice.
In the world of VUCA, it is all the more important to focus on the top. Let us, therefore, discuss the VUCA competencies that need to be imbibed in Leadership positions:
- Demonstrating Social Intelligence: This is the key to active leadership. Leaders must build Social Capital. During trying times, nothing succeeds like effective business relationships. Social Assets have a phenomenal power to sail through turbulence.
- Being Techno-Savvy: In the fast-paced, ever-changing canvas of technology, it is imperative that Leaders become techno-savvy. We live in a world of IoT, Apps, Digital Media, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, 3D Printing & Augmented reality. Leaders must explore and Master the nuances of technology and must prepare for future developments in this world.
- Mastering Data Science: Technology has now taken us into the world of data science. We need to analyze a host of issues in the business, including people’s behaviors. It is essential to use analytics in business decisions and not base our decisions on untested trends. Also, the trends in a VUCA world are limited to a finite space and are prone to spikes. Most organizations that are adapting to VUCA are doing weekly planning and trend mapping. Long terms forecasting is a trend of the past.
- Application of Design Thinking: This a must-have competence. Gone are the days of Thinking Big. It is all about testing prototypes based on low hanging fruits. Fail early fail cheap is the norm now. Build prototypes fast and scale-up early. Test for statistical significance through technology.
- Power of Authenticity: Organizations and Leaders will need to be strongly driven by a sense of purpose. We now live in a world of Personal Mastery and Transparency. Conscientiousness will be the key to Leadership success.
- Accentuating Agile Business Behavior: Specific agile behaviors would need to be also defined and measured by the lean organizations that will make a Leader successful based on the domain they operate in.
So what must senior Leaders do? For one, they must consider upgrading their competencies to deal with VUCA. Secondly, they must shape the behaviors of teams for success and agile adaptation. Nano certifications in current research through various online courses popularly called MOOC is another option to consider. Get a Coach and a Mentor to work on behaviors and for getting insights on current trends. Lastly, become friends with social media and technology trends. Psychometric assessments, to be on course, is a way to modify behaviors through validated and reliable tools. Finally, be open to reverse Mentoring from teams and take feedback.
It is time organizations focus on the top of the Pyramid. This is the space that has to give velocity to their years of wisdom. Organizations will experience pinnacle only because of top Leaders. VUCA is an unforgiving yet rewarding world, and it can make or break businesses. Invest in behavioral modifications at the top and prepare to be a part of opportunity-driven VUCA World.