Wellbeing in the workplace: exploring the VUCA approach
This workshop was aimed at aspiring leaders/leaders/those interested in models of wellbeing and resilience. VUCA stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity, a leadership model based on the theories of Bennis and Nanus from the late 1980s (https://www.vuca-world.org/). Leaders are often required to navigate uncertainties, paradoxes, conflicts, pressures and ambiguities. The VUCA model calls for new approaches to management centred on a personal approach and is extensively used in intercultural business masterclasses (University of Cambridge; MIT; Jagannath International Management School Kalkaji, India).
The model inspires and encourages leaders to move from the idea of the leader who ‘knows all’ towards a vision of developmental leadership. This approach clarifies the leader’s ability to develop others’ capacity to handle problems and make difficult decisions, based on the idea that every individual can contribute their skills. In strategic terms, leading in a VUCA world requires Vision, Understanding, Clarity and Adaptability/Agility. Learning development is starting to embrace this model of leadership, with a new ALDinHE Leadership CoP offering a platform for sharing both theory and practice. The overarching aim of this approach is that of conveying positive energy into the development of meaningful approaches.
The VUCA model relies on six key skills, all of which connect to the values of learning development:
- Developing a shared purpose.
- Learning agility.
- Leading through collaboration and influence.
- Confidence in leading through uncertainty.
- Growth mind-set.
This was a creative discussion-based workshop and we aim to co-create a JLDHE article with interested participants. We have interested participants from the ‘International Women’s’ day workshop we ran, and we wanted to further broaden out this scholarship opportunity to the learning development community. The ALDinHE Leadership CoP are considering how best to feed into notions of a leadership toolkit to support the community.
Attendees of the VUCA workshop were asked to read the following two articles prior to the session:
- ‘Lessons leaders can learn from those living through change’ (HULT Education).
- ‘Leading in a VUCA World: five essential skills to learn in a VUCA world’ (Culpin, 2018).
Culpin, V. (2018) ‘Leading in a VUCA world’, HULT blog. Available at: https://www.hult.edu/blog/leading-in-a-vuca-world/ [Accessed: 14 October 2022].
HULT Education, ‘Lessons leaders can learn from those living through change’. Available at: https://www.hult.edu/en/executive-education/insights/learning-to-lead-in-the-21st-century/ (Accessed: 9 September 2022).
Sinha, D. and Sinha, S. (2020) ‘Managing in a VUCA world: possibilities and pitfalls’, Journal of Technology Management for Growing Economies, 11(1), pp.17-21. https://doi.org/10.15415/jtmge.2020.111003.
VUCA-WORLD [website]. Available at: https://www.vuca-world.org/ (Accessed: 15 October 2022).
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