Recruiting and developing VUCA leaders

Justin Trudeau

Managing Change in a VUCA world

The world is facing an uncertain future. Even before Covid-19 hit us, we were expecting radical change from events/situations such as Brexit, Artificial Intelligence, Automation, a second term for Donald Trump, a US/China Trade War, increasingly onerous Environmental legislation, greater regulation around Diversity and Inclusion, further data protection legislation following GDPR. And these are just the ones we knew about.

Covid19, which no one was really expecting a couple of months before it hit, has been the most disruptive event in our lifetimes. It has devastated countries, economies, businesses, individuals, families and communities.

But, like Covid19, there may be others waiting in the wings that, as yet, we know nothing about. The big questions for organisations are which elements will affect you, to what degree and will a combination of any 2, 3, 4, or more, alter how all the changes impact?

Despite the pontifications of many so-called Thought Leaders, Gurus and Experts, the truthful answer is NO ONE KNOWS which means you need leaders in your organisation capable of anticipating/responding/reacting to change when it happens and responding again (and again) when it changes again (and again).

But do you have the people around you who are capable of dealing with this ongoing, rapidly accelerating, tsunami of change?

Thinking back to the beginning of the Covid crisis, who among your managers disappointed you with their response? Who impressed you? Were any of these a surprise to you (either positive or negative)? Those who responded well are, potentially, your VUCA Leaders. If you manage to retain them (and we strongly suggest you try), they are the people who will guide you through future change events.

But what about your future recruits? Every day, organisations recruit, at all levels, the people they expect to get them through disruption and change when it hits.

Undoubtedly, many organisations will have assessed their potential employees to ensure they can do the job they are being recruited for. But how many have even considered evaluating candidates with a view to future-proofing their business and recruiting VUCA Leaders?

What is VUCA?

VUCA is a US Military acronym, now widely used in the business arena to describe the issues that change creates for organisations. It helps to define what they need to overcome to be successful in a time of immense change. It stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity – the 4-pronged attack we see whenever change hits us.



The tendency of situations and events to change rapidly and unpredictably, especially for the worse. The more volatile the world is, the more, and faster, things change.



The lack of predictability, the feeling of not being sure what will happen in the future. The more uncertain the world is, the harder it is to predict.



The state of having many different parts connected or related to each other in a complicated way. The more complex the world is, the harder it is to analyse.



The possibility of interpreting an event or situation in multiple, distinct, ways. The more ambiguous the world is, the harder it is to interpret.

Now, more than ever, leaders need the courage to step up to these challenges and make audacious decisions that embody risk but, particularly for data-driven leaders, often go against their natural instincts.

How do I know who is a natural VUCA Leader and what can I do about people who aren’t?

Individuals need to be visionary, courageous and flexible to anticipate change but, because sometimes they can only react to unexpected change, they need to withstand stress, show resilience and demonstrate strong leadership.

Not everyone has the qualities needed, and employers can’t always tell who does. You need an assessment tool that allows you to:

  • see what you have (assessment)
  • compare it with what you need (benchmark)
  • DEVELOP existing people so that the gaps are minimised (individualised training)

This is critical if you want to confirm if the people you employ are capable of coping with change.

But because you don’t employ a static workforce, you also need a plan for when you are recruiting. You must ensure that the people you RECRUIT, in future, are also VUCA Leaders and part of the solution not adding to the problem.

The Great People Inside VUCA Leader assessment

The Great People Inside VUCA Leader assessment is a reliable and valid assessment tool, based on independent research, identifying leadership potential in a VUCA world

By measuring the capacity and potential of existing employees, we can highlight the individual strengths and DEVELOPMENT gaps corresponding to the leadership needs of the organisation.

The same assessment and benchmark is used for potential employees during the RECRUITMENT process, ensuring that they possess all the necessary traits and abilities, already displayed by successful, current, VUCA Leaders in your organisation.

In effect, Great People Inside assessments allow you to ‘Measure twice, recruit once.’

The Great People Inside VUCA Leader assessment Measures 12 Dimensions: VUCA Approach, Managing Generations, Strategy, Openness to Experience, Connection to Others, Stress & Resilience, Results Orientation, Leadership, Vision, Courage, Flexibility, Curiosity and Self Awareness – all of them key to ensuring the leadership within an organisation is in the best shape to respond to VUCA.

We can neither avoid, nor ignore, change. What we can do is equip our organisations to respond more effectively so that we survive and thrive.

If your business needs to identify your VUCA Leaders and evaluate how you can adapt to ever-changing requirements, contact Great People Inside and its partners and let us decrease the risk associated with the VUCA events you experience.


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