Using VUCA Strategy & the Decoded Leadership Module to Improve Your Management Skills

July 25, 2019

By: Gary Cohen


Today’s business environment is VUCA. What is VUCA? It’s an acronym that stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity.

VUCA Defined

Within a VUCA environment, leaders shouldn’t presume that order can be easily created, maintained, restored, or even ascertained. There are just too many moving pieces—in terms of technology, systems, skills, knowledge, threats, and opportunities—for leaders to have a firm grip on them all.

Today’s leaders need to develop employees who can think and act for themselves while staying within their given jurisdictions. To lead these independent-minded and diverse set of employees effectively, leaders need a particular mindset and skills.

How VUCA Impacts Your Day-to-Day Workforce Efficiency

In an unordered environment, leaders must be flexible and prepared to adapt. That should come as no surprise. What leaders often forget, however, is that they themselves must show up in exactly the same way—day in and day out. Employees are still looking for stability and certainty from leaders. They want affirmation that they’re on the right course, too, even if their leaders have less knowledge on the subject than they do.

As a leader, you can be reliably consistent and certain, and also flexible and adaptable. You must be comfortable with solutions that are emergent rather than predictable, however, along with some other trade-offs. What you need to succeed in a VUCA environment is the proper leadership mindset and model.

The VUCA Strategy & Mindset

Here are the five steps you can take to develop a VUCA leadership module in your strategic management and everyday mindset:

  1. Create space (while moving fast) to build clearer thinking and deliberate action.
  2. Move from knowing to not knowing — become more curious and look for innovation rather than trade-offs.
  3. Ask deeper questions, or just more questions — look from different perspectives(your shareholders, your clients, your subordinates) and be aware of how new fields and viewpoints can be disruptive.
  4. Lead from your vision and adapt your objectives as needed — the internal or external environment is constantly changing, so stay on top of it!
  5. Constantly challenge your assumptions and ideas — don’t just go from idea to roll-out.

Using a VUCA mindset in your strategic management, you can inspire your team members to achieve, experiment, learn, and most importantly, grow. They know to expect questions from you that will help them better understand what they do, why they’re doing it, and what they could be doing differently for the most optimal outcomes. With a VUCA strategy and mindset, you’ll be prepared to instill the importance of vision and the organization’s mission, as you weigh options and make decisions.

The Decoded Leadership Model

The VUCA mindset is rooted in an underlying Decoded Leadership model that provides leaders with even more insights and support. The Decoded Leadership model identifies 72 elements in six domains that are critical for today’s leaders to develop. The VUCA leadership mindset above is one way that you, too, can lead successfully through turbulent times.

Over the next year, we will be laying out the Decoded Leadership model’s 72 elements and explaining them in more detail. Today, though, we’ll share with you the six essential domains that form the basis of the model:

The 6 Essential Domains of the Decoded Leadership Model:

  1. Purpose: Accomplish something bigger than self.
  2. Culture: Develop shared assumptions learned by the group to influence how they perceive, think, and feel.
  3. People: Acquire an understanding of how people are wired.
  4. Execution: Be a role model for the discipline of getting things done.
  5. Systems Thinking: Don’t be afraid to disrupt systems to induce desired effects.
  6. Strategic Thinking: Set direction to achieve purpose by decoding internal and external ecosystems.

How to Use VUCA Strategic Management to Improve Your Leadership Skills

We at CO2 have worked to research and distill the essential attributes of successful leaders and have learned a lot from our clients and colleagues, mentors, great leaders, and many wonderful books and articles.

Our goal is to set organizational leaders up for success and help them achieve profound outcomes to inspire their teams, no matter how unusual or extreme the challenge.

If you are curious about how the VUCA mindset and Decoded Leadership model can help you, please reach out. At CO2, we welcome questions — schedule a free consultation, via phone or in-person today to get started.

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