The acronym VUCA is a concept that originated with students at the U.S. Army War College. VUCA was used to describe the volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity of the world after the Cold War.
Due to the COVID pandemic that the world has experienced, VUCA is gaining a great deal of momentum and relevance. As people try to make more sense of the current state of world affairs, there is a need for real leadership to step up and help to navigate the difficult environment that we all face.
Seth Godin, Simon Sinek, Brene Brown, Susan Cain and a number of other well-known leadership experts conclude that, for the most part, leadership is failing to meet the diverse needs of our current world and that the traditional model of leadership is broken.
In a time when the world needs great leaders to step up, organizations are holding on much too tightly to the leadership structures and styles of the past. Although many well-intentioned, thoughtful and impactful leaders exist everywhere, they often find themselves in broken systems and are therefore unable to realize their potential or have the impact that they desire.
Rather than address the broken system, some of these amazing leaders can get the life sucked out of them and metaphorically throw up the white flag when it comes to leading by example, being positive role models for the organization, and ultimately putting the people that they serve first.
According to the late, great Dr. Stephen Covey, a world renowned leadership expert:
“Failing organizations are usually over-managed and under-led.”- Stephen Covey.
As well, research done by Forbes magazine has shown that competency-based models of leadership are the root cause to the system being broken and no longer working. These leadership structures are deeply rooted in the foundations of command, control and authority, and as Covey says, being over-managed and under-led.
As a result, autonomy is stifled, genuine feedback not sought, very little accountability taken on the part of leadership and too many decisions are made behind closed doors. In most cases, these types of leaders allow their hubris to greatly overshadow their humility. The direct result is that most employees are left to feel that they have no power, no voice, and no value.
A leader can possess the greatest technical skills in the organization. They can have endless degrees and certificates, but that doesn’t make them a leader. If they don’t care, aren’t collaborative, can’t communicate, and fail to seek feedback, they are not leaders, even if given the title.
The Need for Real Leaders to Rise
What’s important to realize is that we all have the ability to lead, even if we do not have the title. In fact, your organizations are probably starving for people to step up and lead by example, even if its leaders fail to do so.
Do you empower those around you and lift them up? If so, you are a leader, whether you have the title or not.
Do you speak your truth respectfully and in considerate ways? If so, you are a leader, whether you have the title or not.
Do you lead by example, do your best, remain objective, and seek feedback to improve your own performance? If so, you are a leader, whether you have the title or not.
Do you give credit to others, acknowledge their individual accomplishments, support and guide them toward being a better version of themselves? If so, you are a leader, whether you have the title or not.
Do you hold yourself accountable for your own performance, acknowledge your mistakes, apologize when needed, and drop the facade of having to know everything? If so, you are a leader, whether you have the title or not.
Are you open to new ways of doing your work and show consistent flexibility and agility within your own role? If so, you are a leader, whether you have the title or not.
I hope you can reflect on these questions and do whatever it takes to always exemplify what it means to be a great leader, even if you do not have the title itself.
The world needs you to rise if you are a true leader. Always remember this and take action to be the leader the people around you need.
As always, thanks for reading.
KAUST Faculty, Pedagogical Coach. Presenter & Workshop Leader.IB Educator. #RunYourLife podcast host.