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Coping with volatility

With the Fourth Industrial Revolution bringing significant changes, leaders may struggle to cope. Nick Seneca Jankel provides advice on dealing with the new age

Many leaders and managers are dealing with complex and intense change in their businesses. The result can feel a bit overwhelming, with leaders struggling to do business as usual, let alone spearhead external innovations and internal transformation to ensure they are fit to thrive in the digital age. 

Few leaders and managers have been taught or trained how to lead projects, teams, enterprises and system in volatile, uncertain, complex and ambitious (VUCA) situations. VUCA – a term that comes from the US military’s take on leading conflict in the world today – demands a different set of skills and qualities than those needed to manage and lead in times of stability and stasis. 

Management theory emerged in the 20th century as a way to apply such rational measurement, prediction and control techniques to organisations. This was all about the rationalpursuit of efficiencies to drive maximum profit with  minimal costs and variations in manufacturing (employee creativity was seen as inefficient). 

Although we have always known that we were more than cogs in the machine, the techniques of management make more sense to performance management when consumer needs, employee expectations, planetary resources and technologies remained relatively stable and consistent. But this world is on the way out. The fast and furious changes are driving a triple threat – and so triple opportunity – for every leader. 

This is an extract from the Business & Management Magazine, Issue 265, June 2018.

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