Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity – VUCA – is an acronym that was adopted by the military back in the 1990s to describe certain conflict situations. However, when I came across it recently, I thought how well it could apply to the lives of many ordinary working people who navigate such conditions daily.
Whether 2017 is more VUCA than other times is questionable but, in the education and business sectors in which I work, leaders perceive that their situations are becoming ever more demanding. The ones that survive – or thrive, even – are the ones that support, trust and make their teams feel safe despite the ‘scary stuff’ around them. They retain their best people and attract great new people to join them. The key to their success is that they practice resilience in the face of adversity and are able to inspire that same quality in their teams.
How do they do it? Three resilience-building strategies that I have seen work very well are:
· Well-being. Check in on yourself and others to ensure that you get enough sleep and exercise. Also, encourage healthy eating: a fruit bowl is a small presence in the room but a BIG sign of intention.
· Mindfulness. Slow down and take notice of responses; pause long enough to consider alternative actions; steer away from automatic pilot mode. Calmness in thinking and decision-making sets the tone.
· Sociability. Work with people who share the same values as you and that you enjoy spending time with. Be sure to schedule in down time to play and have fun together.
One of my favourite psychologists, Simon Sinek, talks about great leaders being like great parents – ones that make you feel safe – allowing their team to try new things, fail, get support, try again and succeed in the end. Check out his TED talk on the subject.
In addition, Daniel Kahnemann’s bestseller Thinking Fast and Slow is a serious and very powerful proposition: it will change the way you think!