Tips to survive and remain profitable as a business in these tough times; VUCA case study of 2 managers (Part 3)

Posted by News Express | 30 May 2016 | 2,923 times

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Continuing our business tale that started three weeks ago; remember, we were discussing reactions to environmental factors that tip decisions and actions in business and organisational circumstances. In these times of turbulence, both locally and globally – the rapid rate of changes – is swirling around many of us, tipping us this way and that, as we attempt to navigate a safe passage through it all.

How companies and employees cope with the dynamism and rapid unpredictable changes that define the VUCA world over the last few years is a paramount fascination to our personal guide to escape, survival, sustainability and success, both as an organisation and individuals; hence this study and the privilege of the offer of this unique window on how two different managers reacted to environmental and organisational dynamism and the outcomes.

Last week we relayed the tale of the first manager, his stands, convictions, reactions and overall result; today, we are going to talk about that of the second manager and his own fate and story. But before then, may I remind everyone of the all-important entrepreneurship, financial and wealth creation training and personal development, that all that will survive and succeed in these fast changing and unpredictable times must have. Reach out to us for details our forthcoming intensive, participatory and interactive business training programmes, really life transforming. You will do well to get in touch with us for details. 

To the case study now —

…while checking one’s ego…

Contrast the case study of the first manager with that of another manager of others at the same organisation whose essential ability and willingness to adapt has had a much different and more beneficial outcome for the organisation and its employees. This manager, who had nearly 15 years of management experience under his belt, had actually held a leading position in the organisation for several years before stepping aside four years ago to address some personal needs and then shifting to a lower-level management position. For some months, as could be expected, there was skepticism elsewhere in the organisation that this “experiment” would work; as well as “office cooler“ predictions that this person’s ego or legacy from managing at a higher level would quickly get in the way. There was also doubt that this person, as an “older dog”, could “learn the new tricks” it would take to perform across the much more demanding level of skills that the organisation’s new leader was requiring.

But from the get-go in the new mode, this manager plunged into the world of adaptability and essentially re-tooled himself for a business model that required at least 4X the skill set bandwidth and another 4X the span of control, compared with before the COO had joined. It seemed like slow-going at first, largely due to the drag coefficient associated with concerns about the person’s ability to “step down” from his previous role. However, this masked a determination by the manager to find a way to refit into the organisation and to leverage the new dynamics introduced by the COO as the vehicle.

So, what did this manager do to adapt to leading in a VUCA world?

First, and perhaps most important to becoming an adaptive leader in turbulent times, he has been able to let go of a lot of what defined success in prior roles and organisational models, essentially shedding the impact of years of performance reinforcement and standards and getting set to measure up to new ones. Second, and related, was an ability to keep his ego in check – an enormously difficult challenge for a seasoned performer who had risen to higher heights only to shift backwards. A third was the keen desire to keep learning, and the ability to see the new leadership and new organisation as an escalator to on-boarding a whole new set of skills. A fourth was to adopt an “open-to-everyone-in-the-organisation” stance, indeed, even to those who initially were doubters or detractors as well as to new employees. Finally, a fifth was the ability to work with the contradictions and paradoxes that increasingly come with navigating the VUCA world, rather than railing against them. Indeed, many organisations are finding themselves living in the world of “both, and” instead of “either, or;” those most affected by the VUCA world face them more frequently and more often surrounded by uncertainty and ambiguity, to boot.

Countering VUCA: VUCA Prime —

“We are moving from a world of problems, which demand speed, analysis, and elimination of uncertainty to solve; to a world of dilemmas, which demand patience, sense-making, and an engagement of uncertainty.”

Countering VUCA requires —

Vision – an intent that seeks to create a future

Understanding – the ability to stop, look, and listen

Clarity – the ability to help make sense of the chaos

Agility – organisations where “wirearchy” (collaboration) is rewarded over hierarchy.

One might posit that these are traits of good leadership in any situation, not just for the VUCA world. I agree, but I think they are particularly valuable in turbulent times, where so much of what is traditionally available for leaders to judge themselves upon falls away or is dangerously outmoded. Perhaps at the heart of this leader’s success in adapting has been his growing sense of self-awareness over the last several years. Known as someone who had very carefully guarded his life and reactions, this leader took the opportunity of the position change and new organisational direction to re-examine some core values and re-align career goals, shifting flexibly within the avenues for each that the increasing turbulence offered. Grounding one’s self in who one really is in this world and what one wants to stand for as a leader are also even more essential to leading in a VUCA world, where one’s moorings need to be as steady as a buoy, especially in stormy waters.

As we deepen this discourse, I will like to remind everyone of the imperativeness of constant personal development and search for in depth knowledge in the area of study in focus to keep up with the subject dynamism.

•Lawrence Nwaodu is a small business expert and enterprise consultant, trained in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, with an MBA in Entrepreneurship from The Management School, University of Liverpool, United Kingdom, and MSc in Finance and Financial Management Services from Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University Netherlands. Mr. Nwaodu is the Lead Consultant at IDEAS Exchange Consulting, Lagos. He can be reached via (07066375847).

Source: News Express

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