September 26, 2017

Leadership lessons from our Armed Services

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    Self-awareness comes from honestly assessing where you are, what is possible and your opportunity to create change.  We admire and look to businesses and organizations that have observed their own operations and seen opportunities to step up their game even when it seems daunting and success isn’t guaranteed.

    One organization that receives a great deal of attention when it comes to leadership and weathering change is our military. The last three decades have marked an important time of reflecting, research and ultimately re-thinking leadership within the U.S. military.  With new information, our military has worked to recreate systems of thinking that support leadership decision-making when challenges arrive.

    Armed Services Day, celebrated annually the third Saturday of May,inspired us at Beyond Boardroom Doors(BBD) to take a look at the key leadership lessons we can take that are proven military tactics.

    The faster our lives and world moves, the more emphasis is placed on leadership agility.  The U.S. military introduced the term VUCA,the acronym for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity. VUCA soon became a code to help leaders be aware of 4 types of challenging situations that will require a thoughtful and self-aware response.

    Do those sound like characteristics of situations you might be facing regularly as a leader?

    While it’s helpful to be aware that VUCA is probably going to find each and every leader, perhaps even on a daily basis, the next step to being a great leader is having a plan to respond.  The US Military provides a training doctrine to help leaders anticipate issues, assess interdependent variables, prepare for challenges, and capitalize on relevant opportunities.

    What is practiced and drilled in will be applied in a crisis.

    For those of us who have not had the benefit of this level of training to manage change but are hungry for effective leadership tools, the Harvard Business Review published a guide to help leaders from any organization to take intelligent action in response to VUCA situations.

    The guide for action is based on how much the leader knows about the situation and how well the leader can predict the results.  Interpreting where a VUCA challenge lives on the spectrum is the first step. The model then provides recommended action and techniques for each situation. These are worth knowing and having in your toolbox regardless of the types of challenges you face as a leader.  With a little practice, you’ll be ready to respond effectively to any challenge.

    With it can also come new energy and concepts that flow into all our efforts including our professional lives. Soon our businesses, institutions and organizations begin to be impacted by our new thinking.

    Isn’t now the time for new thinking and leading?

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