with talent to ensure they are build- ing commitment with colleagues and customers and they have alignment and focus on working towards the agreed end goals (albeit transitory) to build and sustain momentum. For talent to build, sustain, and re-en- ergise commitment, teach them four key techniques that work es-

pecially well in a VUCA context: 

Demonstrating empathy – the ability to attune yourself to the feelings and thoughts of others, to accept them without judgment and, most importantly, to acknowledge that you understand. Empathy is the foundational technique of these four, and it is critical to creating and maintaining commitment.


Reframing – the ability to help others see the opportunities in all situations, even negative ones. Reframing relies heavily on the same skill you use to improve your own internal monologue. It helps you externalise the mon- ologue. Reframing helps people to see past barriers, take effective action and create momentum.


Imaging – the reason why story- telling works. Much has been made of storytelling in the leadership literature. Imaging is a broader-based technique that allows those of us who are not natural-born story- tellers to reap emotional bene- fits. Imaging is a technique that allows us to create vivid mental pictures in the minds of others.


Authentic communication – a way of creating trusting com- munication among all people in the organisation. It relies heavily on the other three techniques.

Open and growth mindset

Next, talent should demonstrate an open and growth mindset, they need to be open to change and see the possibilities and opportu- nities as well as the challenges. To do this they need an open

approach, considering all the possibili- ties and not rushing to judgment. Tey should be open to continuous learning (self, team and business), and have a ‘will do’ and ‘can do’ attitude with a willingness to experiment and evalu- ate new ideas. Tey need to lead with innovation, learn by cultivating their own and others’ experiences, reframe to find the positive, and identify and communicate opportunities to success. A growth mindset is also key to influencing your inner voice – telling you what you can achieve – and is especially important in a VUCA world.


Your talent also needs to actively seek empowerment to experiment and evaluate the way forward and know what to do with it when they have secured it. It is easy in a VUCA world to sit back and wait for someone else to figure it out, but what talent needs is the ability and confidence to confront VUCA and not be scared of it. VUCA presents challenges and opportunities, if you are experiencing VUCA so are your competitors and colleagues. To make the difference your talent needs to know how to acknowl- edge VUCA and how it impacts the business and themselves, find ways for your talent to be more in control of the planning and execution of goals and strategies. You may also want to consider how you engage your talent

to encourage everyday innovation to plan iteratively, reduce complexity and become more proactive. Use all the sources of feedback available to help them to make sense of the way forward and to make changes when appropri- ate. Tis involvement will help them to build stronger ownership even though the final destination may be less clear.

The best way to get talent to accept uncertainty is by developing people who can anticipate the future

❝ In our VUCA world, old business

structures and disciplines are changing and it is increasingly difficult to lead from the front. Terefore, the talent in the business at all levels needs to be empowered and energised to navigate to success. Develop talent with the capability to manage their roles and the territory or context, and you will create a business that is equipped to succeed.

David Robertson is an executive consultant at Forum, a TwentyEighty company. Find out more at

Reference 1 Forum’s 2005 research into leading change. Forum reviewed both primary and secondary sources of research, more than 30 recent change bestsellers and the electronic databases of both the Harvard Business Review and MIT Sloan Manage- ment Review from which it established a change model and point of view.


Workshop with Graham Shaw 15th September 2016 Birmingham

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