Everyday leaders are asked to make decisions that can drive revenue, impact employees and influence customer loyalty. Thinking through all the possible outcomes and preparing for the potential unknown variables can change the trajectory of a business and its leaders. Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity (VUCA) may best explain the current circumstances we find ourselves living through.
VUCA is a term coined by the US military during the post-Cold War decade, as they began to train their leaders in new ways to approach problems and strategically plan for combat with limitless boarders and mobile targets using unconventional weapons. This became relevant in the business community when leaders began to manage through the challenges of geopolitical disruption, global supply chain logistics, the emergence of internet commerce and the threat associated with cyber-warfare. These challenges have channeled energies around advanced data analytics and detailed metrics to better predict outcomes and manage risk.
To thrive and successfully provide leadership in a VUCA world, managers will have to prepare and think differently. Well known futurist and author, Bob Johansen writes in his book, Leaders Make the Future, “We are in a time of disruptive change—traditional leadership skills won’t be enough.” He goes on to state that, “leaders will increasingly face challenges that have no solution.” The current disruption the COVID-19 health crisis has caused globally, is exactly what Bob is detailing. To be effective in a VUCA world with extreme levels of turbulence and market fluctuation, Johansen believes leaders must be flexible, actively engage with fear and confusion and provide mental as well as spiritual energy. This will position leaders to provide the counter to VUCA which is Vision, Understanding, Clarity and Agility.
I whole heartedly buy in to Bob Johansen’s assessment of what leaders will be required to possess in this changing world. I interpret this to mean that successful leaders in a VUCA world will need to:
- Accept that there may be no known solution
- Trust your team
- Be a valuable resource by listening with the intent to learn and gather facts
- Embrace the innovation that disruption can provide
- Find Clarity in the Chaos
Developing high performing sales teams is essential for any organization looking to maximize revenue growth, which leads me to this…strong leaders should focus on is how to build successful teams. We are only as strong as our weakest link, right? Below are some key factors to consider when teambuilding:
VISION. Ask each member of your team, “Where do you want to go?” It is your job as a leader to know what it will take for them to get there, what resources will be needed and how committed the stakeholders are in their support.
CORE COMPETENCY. What do your team members do well and understand why. Engage others to learn more about how he/she leads and explore ways to further perfect their strengths and improve upon their weaknesses.
PERSUASIVENESS. Does your team influence others? To help them achieve this, team leaders can and should promote and encourage diversity, inspire others to be champions of change and motivate employees to outperform expectations while operating in-line with corporate values.
Lastly, it is important that sales leader looking to achieve (surpass) strategic goals, understand how to direct the people who are interacting with clients on a daily basis. 3 points a leader must be mindful of are:
- Establishing trust among members of the team. As briefly mentioned above, “trust” is key to encouraging buy-in and ownership throughout, as each individual must believe that their opinion is valued. There is a level of freedom that is created when everyone believes in each other and feels supported by leadership.
- Crafting a detailed plan for reaching sales goals. Getting each member to visualize the critical role they play in the overall success of the team is imperative to all achieving the most optimal outcome.
- Providing the tools necessary to navigate the road towards achieving success. This may include additional training, constant feedback and coaching, as well as the celebration of obtaining key milestones throughout the process.
Sales leaders must establish the direction and pace at which the team operates. Managing the team through the highs and lows of the sales cycle is important to maintaining energy and focus. When there is trust and a belief in the plan and preparation, the task at hand can be far reaching but attainable.
As we rise from the chaos caused by the current pandemic, there will be winners and losers for sure. The realities of how to exist and compete in the world are being faced by individuals and organizations globally. Superior organizations will be revered for how quickly they are able to deal with the fear of the unknown, mobilize their teams and resources and adjust to alternative supply networks, distance working and communication technologies. Their ability to embrace the disruption of normal business practices while providing clarity and comfort to customers, will be the result of solid leadership preparation. These leaders will be praised for organizing fluid teams, equipped with the data and tools to present sound solutions to futuristic problems.