Leading Through Change: Managing Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity (VUCA)

Leading Through Change: Managing Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity (VUCA)

Lemon Squeezy winning in 2016 (Coady Photography)

Humans are creatures of habit. We like consistency and knowing what to expect. It makes us feel safe. But living and working in the status quo does not allow for growth. Growth requires change. And change is often uncomfortable. Leading yourself and others through change can spark fear and negative behavior in even the most docile of teammates.

The military uses the term VUCA to describe an environment of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. Versions of “VUCA” are what many of us face during change. I’m going through a bit of VUCA right now as we care for my horse Lemon Squeezy’s injured leg. So how do you make it through? Here are a few questions to consider.

  1. What am I committed to? Why? Your commitment will be tested. Your “why” must be strong enough to get you through.
  2. What is in my control? In a swirl of apparent chaos, consider what is in your control. Step up and control what you can.
  3. What is out of my control? Release what is out of your control. This helps you conserve energy, maintain focus, and avoid leaking energy worrying about what you cannot control.
  4. What is the vision/mission/goal? Get clear and connected. Avoid distractions.
  5. What are our core values? Make decisions in accordance with your values.
  6. What do I need to feel more balanced? Ground yourself to maintain acuity.
  7. What does my team need? Listen and hear your team. Stay close to them during VUCA.
  8. What am I willing to tolerate/not tolerate? This question helps you set boundaries and expectations.
  9. What tiny steps can we take in alignment with the vision and core values? Take action. Continue to move forward. Do not let VUCA stop you. You may have to slow things down to a crawl. That’s ok. Crawl and keep going.
  10. What can we celebrate? Always look for the good. There is always something to celebrate no matter the situation.

Leading through VUCA will test you. It can also bring out your best. It’s your choice. Good luck!