Leading in a COVID VUCA World

Full-spectrum thinking is the ability to seek CLARITY across gradients of possibility – while resisting the temptations of certainty. ~Bob Johansen, author of Full-Spectrum Thinking

As I listen and read, I have noticed that as leadership gurus pontificate about our current state, I hear VUCA referenced frequently. VUCA is an acronym used in business to describe the environment. Volatile. Uncertain. Complex. Ambiguous. I too have thought of VUCA a number of times over the past several months.

Volatile: The environment demands you react quickly to ongoing changes that are unpredictable and out of your control.

Uncertain: The environment requires you to take action without certainty.

Complex: The environment is dynamic, with many interdependencies.

Ambiguous: The environment is unfamiliar, outside of your expertise.

Even before COVID, many leaders were saying that we live in a VUCA world. We’ve now well-surpassed our previous views of what a VUCA world could look like. We’re kind of living in the perfect storm of VUCA.

How do you lead in a VUCA world?

For each of the VUCA elements there is a contrasting element. Focus your attention on the right side of the list.

Volatility yields to Vision

Uncertainty yields to Understanding

Complexity yields to Clarity

Ambiguity yields to Agility

“Yields to” is an important phrase because yielding requires humility, empathy, and vulnerability. Bob Johansen, author of Full-Spectrum Thinking, says that “Our brains want certainty, but what they need is clarity.”

Through humility, empathy, and vulnerability we can determine the next step to take (clarity) while at the same time being uncertain (not knowing what the outcome of taking that step will be). Because if we wait for certainty (knowing the outcome) we will likely never move. Psychotherapist, Steven Stosny, PhD, said, “Certainty itself is an emotional state, not an intellectual one. To create a feeling of certainty, the brain must filter out far more information than it processes. In other words, the more certain you feel, the more likely you are wrong.”

What’s getting in your way as you maneuver through the VUCA world that’s been intensified by COVID? Are you lacking clarity (an intellectual exercise)? Or, are you fearing uncertainty (an emotional state)?

Creating CLARITY, not certainty, is leading with bold grace in a VUCA world.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *