If the first part of 2020 is anything to go by, we live in a truly VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) world centered on unpredictability and uncertainty- political, economic, technology and climate. Amidst this environment of unprecedented levels of change and disruption, with organizations in constant firefighting mode, how does an executive navigate the course to emerge successfully on the other side?
If 60% of success at work is defined by non-technical capabilities, what does an executive need to build to take them to the next stage in their personal and professional development journey?
The World Economic Forum (WEF) in their 'Future of Work Skills for 2020' identified 10 key skills – critical thinking, emotional intelligence, cognitive flexibility, people management, creativity, decision making, service orientation and negotiation. In their leadership research, Korn Ferry, introduced the concept of a self-disruptive leader based on the principles of empathy, humility, being proactive, on pulse and navigating change through following a framework of ADAPT (accelerate, drive, anticipate, partner and trust).
From concepts such as infinite leadership, vulnerable leadership, agile leadership, inside out leadership to building EQ and more, management theorists have spent the last many years trying to equip professionals with the skills needed to steer this constantly disrupted and evolving world.
In my role as a leadership and performance coach, I am often asked by organizations on how do they evaluate and upgrade the skills of their next gen managers and leaders? What do they need to be conscious about and how do they prepare the individuals and the organization to survive in this uncertain decade?
While change can be a driver and a motivator, pushing us to be proactive and agile, change at this scale and frequency is often debilitating and overwhelming. Our natural flight or fight response that releases bursts of cortisol can flip to the other side quite quickly to translate into bad stress and overwhelm, if not anxiety. Performance, in this environment, then becomes less about our technical skills and capabilities, and more a function of managing ourselves, handling situations and being able to steer others and the organization carefully to the other side.
In a VUCA world, KRAs then get redefined to focus on key leadership and managerial capabilities. A few constant themes that we see across organizations on behaviour skills that they use to evaluate an individual are as follows:
Leadership in a disruptive and changing world begins with developing a greater understanding of oneself so that we are honest about our own capabilities and shortcomings. Self-awareness and self-management become essential to manage better, handle situations, adapt easily and build resilience.
2. Anticipate quickly
In a fast-changing world, making decisions on the fly is a key skill. The mindset is gradually moving away from precision and being slow, to being fast and roughly right. Staying on the pulse, being commercially aware, constantly learning and being proactive are relevant skills to be able to aid in the quick thinking and decision process. Navigating multiple dimensions and mediums is also an important capability to develop.
Inclusivity, engagement and getting stakeholder buy-in for any target, vision or objective is the first step to making it successful. While this may seem simple, being able to provide the necessary clarity to get everyone on board is key. In a multi-device and low attention world, mobilizing action through communication is key! There are enough mediums available today to get the message out!
4. Teamwork and Partnerships
Motivating, partnering, being sensitive, non-judgmental and human centric are important emotional intelligence qualities that each one of us needs to inculcate. In an evolving world, managing and building relationships will be key to workplace success. To quote Korn Ferry's research, bringing together resources, building successful partnerships and an ecosystem will be far more pertinent in a disruptive world.
5. Navigating Difficulty
The workplace is fraught with what we have identified as the 3Cs of difficulty- conversation, conflict and change. One of the biggest challenges at work is to be able to successfully navigate difficulties. Communication, emotional intelligence, agility and being human centric will remember go a long way in ensuring your prowess in the workplace.
(By Shubika Bilkha, Leadership Coach and Partner, EdpowerU)