4 skills leaders need to overcome a VUCA world.

VUCA was first introduced in the 1990s, flowing into the workplace as the foundations to explain the issues that businesses are facing in the ever uncertain world that we live in. When broken down, the acronym encompasses and explains:

  • Instability of markets
  • Future proofing
  • Confounding variables that impact success
  • Any obscurities that might impact innovation and performance.

VUCA acronym

No doubt the challenges that businesses have faced throughout the pandemic has made the acronym even more prevalent in today’s societal workplaces. However, why is this? There are certainly still many people who are unaware of the idea.

Businesses have not just been having issues due to the pandemic. From the small day to day problems, to more serious crisis’, businesses are constantly facing and dealing with challenges that pose risks to their success; and therefore bring the significance of this acronym to life.

So, here are 4 key leadership skills that are needed to keep up with the ever fast changing workplace. Leaders need to be able to keep up:

  1. Innovation and creativity. – The process of slightly taking a different approach, possibly re-inventing the wheel, can make all the difference; a fresh perspective, new ideas, collaborative and human creativity. If your business is seemly stuck in a rut, with an all-important crisis having huge impacts on the success, or future success, sometimes a risk of innovative thinking can make all the difference, to a life or death situation.
  2. Critical thinking and Curiosity. – Linking closely to innovation and creativity, this is another key point. Curiosity is a huge factor in overcoming challenge – How can we overcome this problem? What caused it in the first place? What can I do to predict future barriers to success like this one? The key thing to consider is that VUCA is actually highly thought provoking in itself, it helps leaders to start a debate, and analyse markets. Therefore, skills such as critical thinking are really crucial. The ability to effectively research and make evaluative decisions based on the facts, carry out logical decisions, and have the strong reasoning behind them, often lands on the leader’s shoulders. So it is important that leaders really foster and encourage curiosity and out of the box thinking within their teams to really achieve the best solutions.
  3. Collaboration. – Right, I’m going to take you back to the first lockdown, when “Clap for Carers” was the highlight to our Thursday evenings. Collaboration was key. Those carers have had to have help from a supply chain, engineers, administration staff, and other professionals to really make it come together. Without these stakeholders and key influences within the process, there’s no way that it would have ran so smoothly. This is the same for every business, every sector, albeit possibly on a smaller scale. Your team needs to be able to work with each other and come together to make the solutions needed. Interdepartmental relationships are key. Leaders need to be able to really create an environment that encourages collaboration, as well as being able to interact and work with their workforce themselves.
  4. Flexibility. – Arguably the most important factor when trying to keep up with an ever changing VUCA workplace. The ability to respond to changes in the environment and the flexibility to be able to come up with new solutions, is such an imperative factor when trying to overcome a volatile situation. It’s up to leaders to be able to encourage their workforce to come up with new approaches to tasks to make day to day operations more efficient, and mould their thinking to meet volatile situations.

So what can we take away from this? Obviously, Innovation, curiosity, collaboration and flexibility are so important to challenging the VUCA. But, this is not just up to the leader….

We often gauge the performance of leaders in a crisis. Looking to see how fast they react, and the decisions they make, and judge their overall work on the outcomes. Rarely  judging them on their ability to avoid crises.

But actually, it is a collaborative effort.  When all the members of the workforce come together to achieve a common purpose, when goals are met.


Kathryn Taylor

Digital Marketing Assistant

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