The daily challenges facing business operations due to COVID-19 recovery, changing regulatory and political environments, societal movements and market fluctuations across the globe all contribute to uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity in our clients’ work environments. These factors make it harder for organizations to operate and highlight the VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) world we’re living in.

To thrive amidst the uncertainty, here are three VUCA communications guiding principles we share with business leaders to help them tackle challenges and achieve their business goals:

  1. Flip VUCA on its head. What if company leaders viewed VUCA as a positive? As author Bob Johansen notes in his book, “The New Leadership Literacies: Thriving in a Future of Extreme Disruption and Distributed Everything,” volatility yields to vision; uncertainty to understanding; complexity to clarity; and ambiguity to agility. We counsel clients to stay focused on their mission and values, leverage their company strengths, and remain flexible in today's rapidly changing social, political and economic environment. By flipping the script on what VUCA means, companies can lead in new ways and see the opportunities that lie within the challenges, rather than letting fear of the unknown drive their business strategy.
  2. Leverage your talent. This is critical in VUCA times. Assign projects based on employee strengths to drive productivity, engagement and results. Then, to see new ideas and creative approaches emerge, empower team members to make decisions and problem-solve using the style that feels best to them. Finally, encourage open dialogue in hopes of identifying and tackling smaller issues before they become bigger problems. And consider surveying employees after times of significant change to understand how they feel about leadership’s response to the challenge and communication strategies, and to uncover concerns that may still need to be addressed. Internal communications audits and surveys deliver insights to help business leaders better prepare for the next issue that comes their way.
  3. Engage in regular communication with external stakeholders. Strong VUCA leadership skills -- and all leadership skills, really -- are rooted in successful communication. It's key to building the relationships and trust required to succeed in a VUCA world. Leaders need to communicate regularly with target audiences, whether that’s customers, shareholders, or the local communities where they do business, to convey shifts in priorities, what to expect as things change or how they intend to recover from unforeseen setbacks. These communications should be simple (we live in a world of 7-second attention spans!) and repeated through the various channels you know your audiences use to get information.

Today’s business leaders should expect volatility and uncertainty. How they adapt is what will set them apart. Linhart PR can help your company navigate through the VUCA communications process every step of the way, from executive counsel to engaging employees to effectively communicating processes, updates, changes and results to all stakeholder groups. For support through your disruptive issue, please contact me at shughes@linhartpr.com.