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Our world is often described as โ€œVUCAโ€ โ€“ Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous. COVID-19 and the resulting economies and business worlds have reminded us of this. This nature is bound to continue. During these times, leaders must adapt and develop new leadership approaches and styles. We cannot avoid the complexity that is continuously increasing. It is not uncommon for leaders to feel stuck, overwhelmed, or incapable as they face turbulence and challenges within their roles.



It is easy to feel this way, as noted by Robert Keganโ€™s book; โ€œImmunity to Changeโ€ whereby it is noted that the world has surpassed its mind complexity. To lead others effectively in a dynamic and turbulent world, it is crucial that leaders first learn how to lead themselves.


According to the Harvard Business Review (2021), there are six main ways to accelerate your ability to learn, evolve, and navigate challenges.


โ€ข Withstand oversimplifications and swift conclusions: Breaking down complex challenges in attempts to make them less daunting is tempting, however, this narrows your view and conceals critical elements, resulting in a false security sense. Leaders also need to balance their need for immediate action with an informed and controlled approach.


โ€ข Say goodbye to perfectionism: Aim for progress instead. Mistakes should be expected, and leaders should possess the ability to course-correct them when required.


โ€ข Donโ€™t lead alone: Leaders often feel isolated when facing turbulence and challenges. You do not have to solve all business issues alone. Intentionally reach out to your network and any other people you feel could provide insight and perspective.


โ€ข Look at things from a broader perspective: Look at things from the outside. Interdependencies and patterns become more noticeable. This perspective is much more holistic and allows for more adaptability and the ability to course correct.


โ€ข Differentiate between complex and complicated: Complex challenges consist of interdependent elements. Complicated challenges are highly technical, and people find it difficult to understand these.


โ€ข Welcome the discomfort resulting from the unknown: Acknowledge and embrace the fact that we cannot always come up with one definitive answer. A shift from a โ€˜know it all' to a โ€˜learn it all' mindset.


According to RHR (2021) Four key concepts to keep in mind when leading people during turbulent times:


1. Connect โ€“ Employees need to feel that there is trust in an organisation. People thrive on personal connections. It is important to promote warmth and support to help your team feel reassured and that they are always kept in the loop.


2. Inform โ€“ When people are faced with new situations, they seek information eagerly, meaning that they are open to most communication efforts. It is important to constantly deliver information to the team.


3. Guide โ€“ During turbulent times, people seek strong leaders that provide direction on what should and should not be done. Provide clear guidance on priorities that are critical and invite people to brainstorm around these.


4. Unite โ€“ Human community is critical. Pull your company closer together by reinforcing the uniqueness of the group and enhancing resilience. Every day reminds us that we cannot control everything. Uncertainty and complexity are inevitable. We can however adopt strategies that can improve the ability of a leader to learn continuously and develop new ways to navigate the dynamic business world.


Every day reminds us that we cannot control everything. Uncertainty and complexity are inevitable. We can however adopt strategies that can improve the ability of a leader to learn continuously and develop new ways to navigate the dynamic business world.

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