Much Like the Ubiquitous Black Military Pen

Don’t ask me how much the research cost, but the US Army War College coined a term – VUCA to describe the dynamic nature of our world today.  It has been applied across many disciplines and is aptly applied to a business environment:

  • Volatility- The nature, speed, volume, magnitude and dynamics of change
  • Uncertainty – The lack of predictability of issues and events
  • Complexity – The confounding of issues and the chaos that surround any organization
  • Ambiguity – The haziness of reality and the mixed meaning of conditions

The best leaders and leadership pipeline candidates are those that can lead in a VUCA world.  No longer are there linear problems and solutions, rather, people connections matter at least as much as process.  Global networks are changing connections and momentum every day.  Non-profits must be flexible, sustainable, and competitive with consumer needs constantly in flux.  Leaders must be able to sense and respond to changes in the business environment with focused, fast, and flexible actions.   But how do we identify those leaders?

Horney, Pasmore, and O’Shea articulate specific questions to observe and evaluate leader agility in People & Strategy, volume 33 issue 4:

  • When has the leader performed well in a work environment that featured rapid change and/or ambiguity?  Did they enjoy the challenge and what did they learn?
  • When has the leader been decisive with urgency – what information did the leader consider and what was the outcome?
  • How does the leader decide between more information gathering and making a decision?  Find examples of each and determine which was more comfortable for the leader and what was the outcome?
  • When has the leader modified their personal style to achieve an important work objective?  How did they change and what was the outcome?

Examine your leadership pipeline, and yourself for the answers to the above questions and you should find distinct indicators of the leadership agility of that candidate.  This will give you ideas for future growth and help you select and screen candidates in the future.

What is your current strategy for screening leadership candidates?  Do you have a formal process in place?  If not, this is a great opportunity to create one.  Let us know if we can be of any help.


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