Recently I’ve been reflecting on the value and importance of coaching and how it supports the development of leadership during the chaotic times in which we find ourselves. There is no question that government leaders today find their roles and responsibilities changing, and things that were once stable and enduring are no longer so. One of the values of coaching is to have a thought partner, a trusted advisor, who can help you sort through conflicting issues and demands in a safe and confidential way. A coach can ask you provocative questions that stimulate your ability to think strategically and gain new perspective.
My coaching conversations with clients have recently involved underlying issues such as volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity- VUCA. According to Wikipedia, VUCA “is an acronym used to describe or reflect on the volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity of general conditions and situations. The common usage of the term VUCA began in the late 1990s and derives from military vocabulary and has been subsequently used in emerging ideas in strategic leadership that apply in a wide range of organizations, including everything from for-profit corporations to education… These elements present the context in which organizations view their current and future state… how they make decisions, plan forward, manage risks, foster change and solve problems.” Each of the VUCA issues, alone and together, can increase a leader’s level of stress and anxiety. A coach can help provide strategies to understand and manage these emotional challenges.
Not only are leaders expected to provide vision and direction for their organizations, but to do so with some sense of clarity when the playing field is shifting and the horizon is hazy. In addition, there is an increasing trend of senior executives and managers retiring and leaving government. This can exacerbate an already existing sense of loneliness being at the top and can cloud and sometimes blind a leader’s perspective. There may no longer remain key trusted senior managers with experience and perspective to help one look ahead and craft a shared vision for the future. A coach can help provide strategies and expand a leader’s thinking about possibilities for collaboration, networks of support, and ways of engaging the whole organization to find products and services that are practical, customer relevant, and likely to succeed.
Another challenge of leadership today is to recruit, train, and retain leadership talent. This requires a deep understanding of one’s own leadership strengths, styles, and weaknesses. Being able to span the range of needs and interests in a multi-generational workforce is not easy and requires new learning. The ability to grow and learn is best modeled if leadership is to be relevant and effective. A coach can help discover a leader’s strengths and weaknesses using targeted assessments to uncover preferred ways of learning and then customize a personalized development plan accordingly.
These are just a few areas where coaching can be helpful to leaders who are in the midst of VUCA. What leadership challenges do you see in your organization today? What could be the benefit of coaching to your organization and its up-and-coming leaders who must learn how to successfully navigate the shoals of VUCA? For those of you who have been coached, what was its value to you and your organization?
For more information on coaching and leading during VUCA times, please go to the following links: