Eight things leaders should do to thrive in a VUCA world

15 March 2023

Executive MBA (London) participant, Nikki (Natsuki) Ohno, shares her thoughts on her favourite leadership module.

The world is changing rapidly and the business environment is becoming increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA). This makes it more difficult for leaders to lead their teams effectively. The leadership module on the Executive MBA taught me several things that leaders can do to succeed in this new environment. 

Here are my eight recommendations for all leaders to be more effective in a VUCA world.

  1. Know yourself. Recognise your strengths and weaknesses so that your team can support in areas where you may be weaker. 
  2. Create a balanced team. The best way to build a high-functioning team is to consolidate people who can make effective complementary relationships. Trust and friendship will follow. 
  3. Have the vision to empower people. Discuss how the future will differ from the present. Visionary leaders can generate positive energy and excitement.
  4. Create an innovative environment. There will be times when issues are ambiguous. Collaborative relationships based on trust and respect will be beneficial in encouraging an innovative team.
  5. Do the bad decision check. Evaluate whether your decisions are rooted in any of the five detrimental elements; Narcissism, Pride, Hubris, Favouring self and friends, and Risk Aversion (Colley and Spyridonidis, 2022, p20), and amend your approach accordingly.
  6. Prioritise time for informal communication. Communication can reduce anxiety. Take the time to listen and talk to people in an informal setting, which is often more effective. Even if it is difficult to see, communication will help you guide people in the same direction.
  7. Keep in mind that change often fails and why. Employee resistance often hinders change, and that resistance can be tangible or intangible, conscious or unconscious. Create a well-thought-out plan to avoid failure.
  8. Never stop learning. Keep your eyes and the door open. Encourage others to continue trying, testing, and refining to learn. This will help your organisation mobilise towards the desired outcome.

This module taught me that even in the same VUCA era, challenges vary from organisation to organisation for a variety of reasons such as corporate culture, stage of growth, leadership skills, relationships with other influencers, and biases. To be an effective and influential leader, we must constantly strive for a broad scope and not be limited by self-centred thinking such as past successes and our strengths.

Colley, J., & Spyridonidis, D. (2022). Conclusion: Unprecedented Leadership for Unprecedented Times.: Springer International Publishing.

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