Part 2: Learning agility and leadership in a VUCA world
The current environment is often described as Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous (VUCA).
Volatile: Rapid shifts in key variables occur
Uncertain: Inability to accurately assess likelihood and/or consequence of events
Complex: Difficulty anticipating interaction effects between key variables
Ambiguous: Lack of clarity about the meaning of events
What kind of leadership is required?
Leaders who are highly-attuned to the environment may spot early signs of change and those who are able to foresee likely consequences would be well placed to navigate problems and spot opportunities. If leaders are also willing to be at the forefront of change, and are prepared to shift their leadership style to get the best out of their people, this combination could capitalise on opportunities that will arise in a VUCA world.
Certain leadership characteristics would seem important for success in a VUCA world.
Learning agility in a VUCA world
Learning agility has a strong relationship with both leadership performance and leadership potential.
When mapped against the demands of a VUCA world, the seven facets of learning agility are well aligned with the leadership behaviours likely to be effective in this environment.
Understanding others and being able to work well with a diversity of people, instilling confidence and using others constructively to accomplish goals.
In a VUCA world, successful leaders understand and embrace the different perspectives and approaches in their team, recognising this gives a unique competitive advantage. They apply this deep knowledge to leverage existing team capabilities and adapt their own style to get the best from each person.
Conceptualising issues differently, examining problems from a high level, unique and strategic perspective.
In a VUCA world, successful leaders enjoy working with complexity, conceptualising the ways in which multiple variables may interact with each other.
Being fully observant of one’s environment, attentive to changing conditions and approaching in a non-judgmental manner, and regulating one’s emotions effectively.
In a VUCA world, successful leaders monitor the environment closely, mindful that conditions will change quickly and unexpectedly.
Drive to Excel
Motivated by challenge, seeking difficult assignments, resourceful, and getting things done.
In a VUCA world, successful leaders set ambitious goals and drive for them, undeterred by uncertainty or ambiguity
Understanding oneself accurately, one’s capabilities, weaknesses, beliefs, values, and personal goals.
In a VUCA world, successful leaders recognise that greater self-knowledge allows them to lead more effectively. More effective leadership equals more effective outcomes.
Curious, eager to learn, open-minded to new situations, and continually seek innovative (at time risky) approaches to perform.
Successful leaders recognise that a VUCA world offers opportunities for those able to quickly develop new solutions to meet new needs.
Actively soliciting and accepting feedback, contemplating its merits, and taking corrective actions.
In a VUCA world, leadership needs to keep pace with external change. Successful leaders recognise that feedback is the best tool to become a more effective leader.
In Part 3, we will look at the application of learning agility to leadership selection and development.
The TALENTx7 Assessment® is a comprehensive measure of learning agility. For more information on the TALENTx7 and how it can benefit your organisation, contact Stephen Macdonald for an informal discussion (Stephen@thekayagroup.com).