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LEADERSHIP


Unpacking turbulence Leaders need to master the art of consistently making good judgments under uncertainty. Ask any senior manager, director


or C-level leader, and one cannot help but be struck by the widespread acknowledgement of the following four leadership dynamics that


are evident across all sectors:  Operational cycles seem to be shorter and change seems to be happening more rapidly and continuously. 24hr fl ows of information and sometimes ‘shocks’ interrupt and/or accelerate outcomes and opportunity sometimes more quickly than we can adjust. Plans made in one quarter are ‘moved back’ or signifi cantly altered in the very next quarter. New stakeholders, competitors and partners connect and disconnect in a matter of months. Making judgments about timing are extremely diffi cult and often ‘off ’.


 T e number of unpredictable events and opportunities seems to be increasing. T ese events are both


inside and outside our organisations. Geo-politics, violence, economic instabilities, the emergence of entirely new business thinking like that of Elon Musk, or increasingly widening diff erences in income and wealth, the emergence of political swings from ‘simmering’ to majority referendums (like Brexit), and tech- nological innovations in medicine, remote monitoring, 3D-printing, and so on. Making judgments about what is stable and what is predictable is fraught with repeated errors.


 We are increasingly faced with trade- off s. Rare is the time when decisions are clear-cut. Making judgments about ‘what is the right thing to do’ is often the wrong question. Judging ‘both- and’ requires diff erent ways of thinking and asking diff erent questions of ourselves and our organisations. Leaders have, to date, been poorly developed and prepared for this.


 Resources, networks, people, actions and cause-eff ect linkages seem to be tangled and complex. Resource fl ows


are interrupted by weather impacting logistics; politics infl uencing incen- tives and penalties, and stakeholder views; technology failures and disruptions, like understanding that your eff orts will be enhanced and/or tracked by the Internet of T ings if they are not already; people (talent) seem to migrate between projects and organisations in surprising link- ages, such as donor groups working with governments who, in turn, are connected to commerce in some- times questionable ways; the impact of one action infl uences many chains of action which, in turn, infl uence others, like choosing to implement a new ‘cloud-based’ information system that introduces entirely new cyber security elements and challenges legacy systems, routines and linkages with suppliers, donors or head-quarters. Making judgments about true inter-related complexities is often out of any one leader’s ca- pacity, and simplifying works rarely, contrary to our hopes and beliefs.


Leading in turbulent times


How do we lead eff ectively and make consistently good judgments in turbulence? Are we actually leading eff ectively in turbulence now? And just how do we break this down so that we can be eff ective in turbulence? T e GCSP-CCL Leadership Alli- ance is innovating with leaders in ways to capture peace and security contexts that go beyond VUCA descriptions – Volatile, Unpredictable, Complex and Ambiguous – to understanding how to lead in turbulent contexts. Working with CCL’s David Magellan-Horth, we are using the RUPT descriptor – Rapid, Unpredictable, Paradoxical and Tangled – which lifts sights, thinking and action into linking judgments and actions under uncertainty. Working with world-class designers and thinkers like Dr Geoff Cox from RSVP Design and Barry Johnson of Polarity Partnerships, we are infusing experiential learning events with strategic frames, tools and methods that bring senior leaders from across a wide range of sectors together to share their respective experiences of turbulence and apply the content to these very real challenges from day one. In fragile and post-confl ict


26 | October 2016 | @TrainingJournal


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