The VUCA Shift

Do you see leadership as a set of skills that you need to get other people to do what you want, or do you see it as a personal responsibility and a set of internal character traits? Hi, this is Grant Herbert, Emotional Intelligence Speaker and Trainer of the Year and Sustainable Performance Coach, and today, I want to start talking to you and having a conversation around the area of leadership.

 

We live, work, and operate in what's been called a VUCA world. That is one that is volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous, and never has that statement been more true than it is right now. Effective leadership is a critical component of navigating the VUCA world. So, what I want to do is I want to start a journey today to unpack what I call the VUCA Shift.

 

In the 20th century, leadership was relegated to a set of skills that you needed to be taught, if you are in a management position, if you're in a position whereby you needed to get others to come alongside with you and to do the stuff that you had to get done. But, I want to challenge that.

 

For me, leadership has always been a set of internal characteristics that you would possess to be able to not only lead others, but to start by leading yourself. Not only has the definition of leadership changed and evolved, but we're in a VUCA world. We're in the 21st century. So, no longer can we rely on the teachings that we used to rely on last century.

 

We need to upskill ourselves so that we can learn and develop and implement the competencies that will help us to navigate that volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous world that we now operate in. We could start off by talking about the distinction between management and leadership. And in my opinion, the two are totally different.

 

Management is about process, whereas leadership is about people. I don't know about you, but nobody wants to be managed. No one wants to be controlled and told what to do, whether that be from themselves or from others. So, the first thing, as we start this journey together this month, that I want us to get a hold of is that management does not have a place with people.

 

Today's world is way faster than it used to be. Things are changing so quickly and so regularly. The speed of change, coupled with the changes in technology and the way that we do things, means that we need to learn different skills. And I call it a shift from what we used to do, hence the name VUCA Shift.

 

A VUCA leader needs to be able to operate in a VUCA world. And what I want to do is just unpack some distinctions around how we lead in this 21st century. In the coming weeks, we will unpack some individual components of that, but today is about getting an overview so that you know that this is the journey that you need to come on with me this month. There are three key areas that I break this down into.

 

So, the VUCA leader needs to make shifts in these three areas. The first area is personal leadership. This is all about leading self, and this is where it starts. And we're going to talk about that next week. The second area is process leadership or project leadership, where these are skills that we need to employ to be able to lead change, to lead productivity, to lead the outcomes that we want. And then, the third one is people leadership, and it's a sequential journey.

 

A lot of leadership training goes straight to people leadership without building the foundation of personal and professional or process leadership. And this is where all the challenges come in. You get promoted to a leadership position and you think, "I can't even lead myself. And now you want me to lead others?" And this is where the challenges create abrasive leadership and create situations where leaders are not enjoying the process either.

 

So, by building a foundation around personal leadership, around your identity, around your intelligences, and around your intention that we've talked about in previous weeks, then you're building a platform to be able to then learn and employ the next lot of skills. And then by adding the professional skills around leading process and around your performance, around your productivity, these areas will help you to achieve personal results.

 

And then we move into the people leadership area where we learn to be more resilient and respectful, and we learn to have better relationships, and we learn to get results through people, rather than just from ourselves. So, all these things take a shift. A shift, firstly, in mindset, a shift in the skills that we have, a shift in our behaviours and in the way that we implement our strategies and the things that we're going to learn as we go along the journey.

 

So, a VUCA Shift is designed to help a leader to be empowered to lead themselves, to lead process, and to lead people in the volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous marketplace that we will operate in today. And right now, in 2020, it's never been more volatile, more uncertain, more complex, or more ambiguous than any other time in my career.

 

So, this is why I wanted take us through this journey this month. So, come along on the ride, where I'm going to show you in each of those individual areas the shifts that we need to make and then how to make them. 21st century leadership is all about developing an internal set of characteristics to help you to navigate your journey as a leader, and to enjoy the experience way more than you do if you employ last century's strategies and teachings.

 

Well, that's it for me for another week. Join me again next week, where we start unpacking this VUCA Shift by talking about the important area of personal leadership. I'll see you then.

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