This morning, I was browsing the Wall Street Journal online, looking for some good news. I came upon two articles byDana Mattioli. Her first article, "Despite Cutbacks, Firms Invest in Developing Leaders," brought a smile to my face. Apparently, many firms realize that they need to continue developing their leaders if they are to thrive during these turbulent times.
One of the topics of particular interest is managing change in volatile times. I've been writing and consulting on the topic of leading through volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (VUCA). One of the things that I know for sure is that today's leaders are faced with situations and events that are out of the ordinary. Today's environment requires enhanced sensemaking. What is sensemaking? It is the ability to understand that which is not routine and take appropriate action. We don't need to think about how to respond to events and situations that are routine. For instance, leaders often face new competitors and need to develop strategies for retaining their market share. Even thought difficult, these are routine challenges for today's corporate leaders. Today's leaders face new challenges. Customers who were tried and true have cut back. Sources of capital and credit have frozen. There are no clear indicators of what tomorrow will bring.
Leading in today's marketplace is like being a captain of a ship in a dense fog on a suddenly turbulent ocean. A ship's captain needs constant information, a way to filter that information, the ability to take decisive action, and the courage to improvise and make quick course corrections. Likewise, today's leaders need what Karl Weick and Karlene Roberts call a collective mind. While doing research on how leaders make sense of very complex challenges, I stumbled on Weick and Robert's work. They found that individuals working on an aircraft carrier flight deck-a situation fraught with continuous danger-worked seamlessly together to ensure everyone's safety. There was no room for egos, hidden agendas, or blame. Everyone, literally, had to be on board or an airplane attempting to land on deck would not be. Corporate leaders need to nurture this level of collective mind in order to navigate these rough waters.This is a non-intuitive skill that is helped with leadership development and coaching. And it is a skill that helps leaders navigate through rough and calm waters.
Does your organization have leaders who can lead in turbulent times? Contact me for a free 10-minute consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org.