Our world is V.U.C.A (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) and there is nothing we can do that will change that. What we must do is develop a style of leading that enables us to successfully achieve our personal, professional, and organizational goals. We must abandon traditional concepts that align with command and control and embrace a style that is both agile and adaptable if we have any hope thriving in the future.
This will require a substantial change in the hearts and minds of those in leadership roles as well as those who aspire to them. World renowned executive coach Marshall Goldsmith distilled the challenge down to "these two immutable truths" in his book "Triggers":
- Meaningful behavioral change is very hard to do because...
- We can't admit that we need to change
- We do not appreciate inertia's power over us
- We don't know how to execute a change
- No on can make us change unless we truly want to change.
He goes on to say that, "What makes positive, lasting behavioral change so challenging - and causes most of us to give up early in the game - is that we have to do it in our imperfect world, full of triggers that may pull and push us off course." So before you begin, there are few things you must do in order to increase your probability of success:
- Find an accountability partner or partners who are committed to your success as much as you are to theirs
- Start small and leverage the momentum of these efforts to tackle bigger changes in the future
- Strive for progress not perfection because you will slip and stumble but that is part of the process
- Write about your efforts in a journal (daily if you can) because reflection is the key to learning
That is the work you have to do on you...now onto what you can do for others!
Here are the 3 I's of Leading in a VUCA world:
- Instill Confidence
- As you move away from command and control, you will have to re-instill your team's confidence in their own abilities because they have relied on you so long for their direction, they might feel a bit scared or apprehensive.
- Create opportunities for them to make decisions by turning their questions back to them. When someone asks you for direction, see what they think they should do and see if that might work. This will take patience on your part because they will not do it just like you but if you want to succeed long term, you have to put people in positions to make mistakes that everyone can live with.
- Be supportive when (not if) they fail. Coach them through it because they need to develop grit if they aspire to lead others in the future. They need to know it is safe for them to fail so they can learn. If there is no safety, there is no way to instill the confidence they desperately need.
- Inspire Action
- Once they have regained confidence in their own abilities and are willing to take risks, it is time to get things moving. This can be a bit challenging at first because your default will be to give direction and/or a list of tasks you want completed. The real challenge is that they will probably not push back because that is what they are used to as well.
- You will need to engage them differently now and begin to ask questions instead of giving answers. You will have to check your ego at the door because you don't want be to the smartest person in the room anymore. As Dr. Henry Cloud wrote in "The Power Of The Other", "The best leaders, coaches, and friends do both of those things. They push you past where you have been or thought you could go, but not so far that you can't recover. They stretch but don't injure."
- Ignite Potential
- In this stage, you are seeing people lean into their potential and they are nearing the goal of a high performance team.
- You are now more of a coach or advisor than you are a leader or manager. You can now focused on the larger challenges and opportunities of the organization because your team is focused on the day the day operations. You have successfully moved beyond rear-view mirror management.
The world we live and work is not going to slow down anytime soon because the velocity at which change is happening continues to increase. We will see fundamental changes in our lives over the next 3-5 years that can scarcely be imagined. For some these changes will be too much but for others it provides tremendous opportunity...which group will you be in?
As Viktor Frankl said, "When we are no longer able to change a situation - we are challenged to change ourselves."
Will you accept the challenge?