We are living in challenging times. What does it mean for leadership development?

Newcastle University Business School

We are currently living in a VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity) world, but how do these challenging times affect leadership development? Dr Joanne James explores this topic in her latest thought leadership article.

Brexit, the Covid-19 pandemic, the climate emergency, international conflicts. Just a few of the matters currently testing humankind. The acronym VUCA certainly sums up our volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous world. How can we thrive in such challenging times?

For some time now, leadership development programmes have encouraged us to develop our self-awareness but why is this so critical for our VUCA world? Whatever our professional sphere, we are likely to be called upon to respond to demanding situations, where we must collaborate with others to find solutions to the emerging challenges.

Whilst the future is unpredictable, what is certain is that we cannot always rely on tried and tested approaches. To cope with uncertainty, we must develop flexibility and adaptability in our thinking.

The first step is awareness.

Self-awareness leads to flexibility

Self-awareness could mean: