Leadership Challenges of a VUCA World
“It is evident that conventional leadership development practices are no longer adequate. Organisations globally need to incorporate the next generation leadership competencies including cognitive readiness in order to address the development needs of their rising leaders. This expanded group of upcoming leaders need to have a broader skillset, one that equips them to think and act globally in a VUCA business environment. They must do so while embracing cross-cultural diversity and cultivating collaborative relationships within and outside their walls. These are the hallmarks of the mindset needed to develop effective global leaders in today’s highly disruptive VUCA world.”
– Prof Sattar Bawany (2016)
2016 Trends in Executive Development: A Benchmark Report
Introduction of VUCA
The VUCA concept seems to have been first introduced in the early 90s by the US Army War College to refer to the multilateral world that emerged after the end of the Cold War and was characterised as being more Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous than ever before.
In a business context, the VUCA concept took off after the global financial crisis of 2008 and 2009. Since then, it has featured heavily in the development of leadership skills in various organisations. The concept describes a business environment characterised by:
Volatility: A brutal increase in four dimensions of the changes that we face today: the type, speed, volume, and scale.
Uncertainty: As a result of the Volatility, we are unable to predict future events.
Complexity: Widespread confusion, with no clear connection between cause and effect, affects all organisations nowadays.
Ambiguity: There is a lack of precision and the existence of multiple meanings within the conditions surrounding us.
Meeting the Leadership Challenges in a VUCA World
In today’s complex, dynamic and VUCA world, having a disruptive innovation capability is mandatory, both for growing a business and protecting existing markets. But leading disruptive innovation requires new mindsets and behaviours, for leaders themselves and for the organisations that develop them. Leaders need relevant competencies required for leading disruptive innovation.
Leaders today, however, face a big challenge when it comes to disruptive innovation when operating in a VUCA World. Many executives rise through the ranks of management, where predictability and control are valued and rewarded. Unlike operations management, disruptive innovation – whether creating it or responding to it – involves extreme uncertainty. Unexpected events, inevitable failures, and a fundamental lack of control are inherent to the process. But few leaders are formally prepared to deal with the realities of leading or responding to disruption.
To lead successfully in the VUCA World, leaders need to LEAP through the fog and demonstrate the cognitive readiness competencies as explained in the next section and also possesses the following traits:
Liberal: open to new behaviour or opinions and willing to adapt or discard existing values if and when necessary to adapt to the new world
Exuberant: filled with lively energy with sense of passion and optimism in engaging the team and other stakeholders
Agility: proficiently change and evolve the learning organisation with next-gen leadership competencies including cognitive readiness, critical thinking and emotional & social intelligence amongst others.
Partnership: Build a trust-based partnership with intra-teams and inter-teams as well as externally with other stakeholders including customers and suppliers.
Upon completion of this Masterclass, the participant will be able to better appreciate and/or understand the context of leadership today’s VUCA business environment and what are the critical competencies and skills that are crucial towards resolving the various challenges impacting on their organisation.
The programme incorporates a number of unique features and works on a number of levels. It is specifically aimed at enhancing and developing the skills, knowledge and behaviours of the participants.
The participants will develop their understanding of Leadership Effectiveness and how it will lead to a creation of a sustainable competitive advantage for their respective organisations through the development of an organisational climate that will contribute towards enhancing employee engagement and productivity during challenging times when operating in a disruptive VUCA business environment.
Prof Bawany is concurrently the Strategic Advisor & Member of the Board of Trustees and Governing Council of the International Professional Managers Association (IPMA); Managing Director and C-Suite Master Executive Coach with Executive Development Associates (EDA) and Master Facilitator with Action Management Associates, Inc. (AMAI).
He has over 30 years’ international business management experience, including 20 years in executive coaching, group facilitation, and leadership development and training with global management consulting firms. In addition to his business and consulting career, Prof Bawany has over 15 years of concurrent academic experience as an Adjunct Professor teaching senior executives international business strategies and human resource courses at various leading universities.
He is currently the Adjunct Professor with Curtin Graduate School of Business (CGSB) and a member of the Advisory Board of Curtin Graduate School of Business (CGSB), Curtin University, Western Australia.
He is especially skilled at coaching leaders work through leadership transition issues, whether individually or systemically. As a seasoned coach, he truly cares about others, listens with an open mind, and adds value in unexpected ways. His approach to executive coaching encourages new insights into the key capabilities and unique strengths needed to sustain practical behavioural change over time, resulting in the executive’s enhanced self-awareness, better decision making, and continuous performance improvement.
Prof Bawany is an astute advisor and coach to executives who need to know how they are perceived and want to focus on what is most important in their professional and personal lives. He has coached a range of leaders, from CEOs to senior vice presidents, and high potential managers. His current work in organisations focuses on encouraging individual initiative and leadership from a systemic perspective in order to achieve clearly defined business results. His speciality is effectively linking people processes to business outcomes.
Prof Bawany is a Fellow of International Professional Managers Association (IPMA) and The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM). He is a Professional Member of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). He is also a Practising Member of the International Coaching Federation (ICF) and International Association of Coaching (IAC).