Talent Management

Thriving in a Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous World

“If the speed of change within your company is slower than that of the business world, then you’re in trouble.”  — Dr. John Sullivan

As the business landscape continues to evolve, it’s easy to see that the current environment is more volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous than ever before.  The US military describes this setting as a “VUCA” environment.  While the economy may be emerging from a prolonged recession, the idea of VUCA being the new normal makes business strategy, human capital management, leadership development, and succession planning that much more difficult.

More than 400 human resources practitioners and thought leaders gathered at the Human Capital Summit in Orlando, Florida this month to discuss talent management strategies in today’s VUCA environment.  Perhaps Dr. Sullivan summed it up best when he said, “adapt early, adapt often.”

If you were fortunate enough to be a part of this inspirational event that included presentations by best-selling authors, business leaders, and human resources executives, you likely have your own memorable moments.  Here are a few of mine:

We’re All in Sales

Dan Pink made a compelling argument that we’re all in sales, as we spend more of our working lives than we realize trying to influence others.  The availability of information on websites like salary.com and glassdoor.com provide job applicants with real insight into company culture and salaries.  This shift has in effect leveled the playing field to the point that HR recruiters are no longer the sole keepers of information, and as a result, candidate interviews are now a two-way street.  HR professionals who are best equipped to adapt to these changes stand the best chance of surviving in today’s environment.

Are you a multiplier?

We learned from Liz Wiseman that leaders can be divided into two categories:  what she calls multipliers and diminishers.  Multipliers are leaders who amplify the talents of those around them by surrendering control and encouraging ideas.   Diminishers are those who stifle creativity, imagination, and energy – and as a result, the organization suffers.  With so many tools to identify and develop leaders, it’s not hard to imagine that employees will naturally gravitate towards companies with more multipliers in their ranks – creating another turning point in the war for talent.

Leadership Development at Facebook

Stuart Crabb of Facebook outlined the leadership development philosophy at their young company, which includes the option to move back into an individual contributor role if a leader finds that managing people isn’t for them.  In fact, management roles are lateral moves at Facebook.  Stuart described their overall philosophy for empowering employees to do their best work, the basis of which comes from the New York Times bestseller First, Break All the Rules:

  1. I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day
  2. I know what is expected of me at work
  3. My supervisor seems to care about me as a person
  4. I have received recognition and praise for good work

As you might imagine, leveraging internal peer networks is an important part of leadership development at Facebook, and developing relationships within the company is essential for success.

These are just a few of my highlights from an interesting and inspiring event that helped us all understand more about leading others in today’s VUCA environment.  What are your best ideas for thriving amidst volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity?

Vistage Inside is a collaborative leadership development program that leverages peer advisory groups, one-on-one coaching, and expert speaker workshops and helps leaders influence others, creates “multipliers,” and drives team performance in a VUCA environment.

Category: Talent Management

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Avatar About the Author: John Ruzicka

John Ruzicka is the Manager of Senior Executive Programs for Vistage Inside.  Prior to joining Vistage, John was with the University of San Diego, where he spent five years mar…

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