It’s challenging enough, in the best of times, for business leaders to build strategy, engage employees, encourage innovation and achieve results for stakeholders. But today’s world is noisy and chaotic. All business landscapes are in disruption, in what the United States War College trained officers for back in 1998: a world that is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA, for short).
That’s exactly where we are, in a world where CEOs have to grapple with issues over which they lack control, like national security, global trade relations, secure financial transactions and national health care policy. All of these issues have a direct impact on their organizations, their strategy and their team members.
In a thorough Forbes piece, author Bill George, a senior fellow at Harvard Business School, addresses what he sees as the new VUCA that CEOs and business leaders have to embrace to lead through a world of chaos. They need vision, understanding, courage and adaptability. He provides great advice that speaks to the need for creating a clear vision, understanding as many different perspectives as possible, the courage to take thoughtful risks and the need to be flexible in executing plans.
Constant change can be overwhelming to the teams who execute a company’s vision and strategy. What can great leaders do to keep employees engaged, excited and enthused about the shared mission?
First, there’s a need to rehumanize the workplace. What does this look like? CEOs and leaders need to reframe their approaches and behave differently, including how they lead and how they team.
There’s also a need to redefine “employee.” Every person on the team, from the maintenance worker to the owner, shares one commonality: Everyone enters a time of integration of the known and unknown, of knowledge and discovery. Every person on the team is honored for making a unique contribution to the success of the organization, and everyone is called on to bring energy to his or her work.
Most people would define “employee” as someone who works for someone else in a firm or organization in exchange for a salary. But what if we started looking at “employee” as a soul, a human spirit at work? Someone who enjoys unwrapping each day as if it were a gift of discovery? Someone who brings energy and engagement to each challenge that chaos brings? That perspective would build a completely different team, a completely different workplace.
In any game, we can only control ourselves and our approach. But we influence others with our personal leadership and are instrumental in driving needed change wherever we go. It makes sense that if we shift our worldview about what’s possible, we can play a bigger and better game.
Coaching shifts perspectives and helps people focus on the possibility of living and working wholeheartedly, of bringing their unique spirit to work every day. Coaching as a method of development can help people frame and reframe thinking and responses from moment to moment, in essence raising consciousness, increasing self-awareness and growing appreciation of others.
Coaching doesn’t take us into a state of being that is empirical or absolute but one that is flexible, adaptive and accommodating, allowing us to look at the chaos of change as an incubator for creativity, innovation and revolution. Chaos becomes an opportunity for new beginnings for an organization, its leaders, its teams and its future – if we embrace the human spirit at work and engage in paths of self-discovery and learning.
This article first appeared on Training Industry in its contributors’ blog on May 29, 2018.