Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Leading Like Manwani in a VUCA World

Guest post from Rich Wellins:

Harish Manwani, Chairman of Hindustan Unilever, just delivered his shareholder address at the company’s 80th annual shareholders’ general meeting. His topic: Leadership in a VUCA world.
VUCA, which may be unfamiliar to some, got its recent origins in the military to help explain the changing nature of warfare. It has rapidly become an acronym for our business environment.  Pronounced voo-ka, it stands for:
-        Volatility: where things change fast and are unpredictable.

-        Uncertainty: where the past is no longer a predictor of what will come next.

-        Complexity: where it has become mind-boggling to make the right decisions with all the inventing variables and sources of information.

-        Ambiguity: where who, what, why and when are far harder to ascertain.
I had the opportunity to interview Mr. Manwani as part of the judging process for CNBC’s Asian Business Leader Awards. He won that year, hands down. I remember him telling me that he considered himself just to be a “professional manager.”

Humble to a fault, I would label him as one of the most successful global leaders I have ever met. I am not surprised he picked this topic as he is charged in growing Unilever’s businesses in emerging and highly VUCA-prone markets. He has done a masterful job.
Manwani described the role of leadership in the VUCA world as “having a clear point of view about the future and building an organization that can navigate towards that destination through good times, and importantly, also in bad times.”

A good start! But we would like to explore the relationship between VUCA and leadership in more depth. Every two years DDI measures leadership at a massive scale in the Global Leadership Forecast surveying leaders and HR professionals in more than 2,000 companies across 16 countries. Like Manwani, this year our theme is Leadership in a VUCA World.
This year’s Forecast will be done in partnership with the Conference Board. Also involved are leading HR and talent management associations around the world including HRoot, People Matters, ASTD, The Institute for Executive Development, Amedirh, Berlitz, HR.com, The Next Step and Gutemberg.

A few of the questions we will answer include:
·       What are the specific behaviors and skills that constitute a VUCA leader?

·       What percent of the thousands of leaders who participate in our research are truly VUCA ready?

·       And finally, what is the relationship between a proprietary algorithm we have developed to determine an organization’s VUCA readiness index and the performance of their organization?
Like us, you probably have some hypotheses of you own. Participate in The Global Leadership Forecast to learn those answers. Participate with 30 leaders from your organization and you’ll receive a special benchmarking report to hear what your leaders candidly think about leading in a VUCA world. To take the Global Leadership Forecast Survey visit:

HR Professionals: http://ow.ly/ohfjM  

To download copies of the 2011 Global Leadership Forecast, visit: http://www.ddiworld.com/glf2011

Rich Wellins, Ph.D. is senior vice president of Development Dimensions International (DDI), and is an expert on leadership development, employee engagement and talent management. He is responsible for launching DDI’s new products and services, leading DDI’s Center for Applied Behavioral Research (CABER) and its major research projects and developing and executing DDI’s global marketing strategy.


Unknown said...

Thank you for sharing some insights regarding VACU and leadership. I look forward to reviewing the results of the DDI study that further explores the relationship between the two.

Dan McCarthy said...

Sara -
Thanks. Me too - DDI does a nice job with it.