New Approaches to Leadership Development: A New VUCA Filter

post from Lorraine Grubbs:
The US Army War College, in the post cold war
years, described the future business environment in four words:  Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity
– code name: VUCA.  In my work (building loyal
employee cultures), I define VUCA through a new filter: Value people, Unparalleled
communication, Curious mind, and Accept responsibility. This new definition
revolves around appreciating employees and, done right, can become your
greatest competitive advantage.   
President Teddy
Roosevelt said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much
you care.”  That is as true today as it
was when he said it in early 1900. 
People are one of your biggest assets. 
To get them to perform at the highest level, they need to feel valued.
You can’t fake caring.   Leaders who
demonstrate they care will gain the respect of their people.

new hires the “love” right away.  At
Houston based David Weekley Homes, as the new hires exit their orientation
session, they walk down a hallway lined with employees clapping and welcoming
them to the company.  This is a great way
to demonstrate your caring environment from the onset.  What are you doing to ensure your new hires
feel welcomed from the start?
Be a great
communicator.  Leaders should be aware
that people learn in different ways. 
Some learn through listening, some through doing, and some through
reading.  Leaders who are proficient communicators
understand how employees learn and adapt their communication style
accordingly.  Good communication makes
employees feel like they are in the know and keeps rumors to a minimum. 
Set up focus groups and ask employees
how they stay informed about the company. 
Ask for suggestions on how to improve communication, then take their
ideas and implement them if possible.  In
this way, everyone will be on the same page. 
At Sugarland based Hotze Health and Wellness Center Dr. Steven Hotze
gathers the troops together every week to recite their vision and mission
statement.  In their “huddle”, they take
time to recognize employees, talk about anything new, answer questions and
within 30 minutes, everyone returns to work. 
Employees appreciate being in the loop. 
It makes them feel respected.  
Get to know your people.  Who are they? 
What do they like?  On the flip
side, let them get to know and understand who you are.  Leaders should be curious about their people.  Employees feel valued when you remember their
names, their accomplishments and details about their families.  At Boston based General Insulation, CEO Frank
Granara not only remembers everyone’s names, but is aware of what’s going on
with their families as well.  And his
employees love him for it.  
  At your next meeting give
each employee a form to fill out.  Ask
things like:  
your favorite candy?
your favorite movie?
do you like to do on your days off?
Then, at the next meeting, hand them a sample
of their favorite candy.  Doing little
things will amaze and impress employees and they, in turn will learn to do the
same for their teams.
Employees who
understand a company’s “one thing” are more apt to feel a part of the mission
and embrace the company as their own.  They
will accept responsibility, as owners, to ensure they do their best to help the
company succeed.  Everyone in an
organization needs to understand what the vision of the company is and how their
job contributes to the big picture.  When
I worked at Southwest Airlines, we were taught that we were in the customer
service industry even though we flew airplanes. 
Ultimately, we came up with a tagline that everyone could resonate
with:  “We give America the freedom to fly”,
and every one of us knew what role we played in making that happen.
In your next meeting, ask your employees
what business you are in.  Create the
“one thing” you do above all else. Then make sure all your employees know,
understand and live your “one thing”. 
By following the redefined VUCA “people”
competencies, your leaders will build a culture of loyalty and respect. Employees
will be proud and defend “their” company against any competitor.  Employers who are consistently voted among the
top companies to work for have discovered
that by sticking to the newly defined VUCA principles, their employees work
harder and customers are happier.  And,
their bottom line reflects it.   
the author:


recently co-authored  “Beyond the
Executive Comfort Zone: Outrageous Tactics to Ignite Individual Performance” (
Lorraine is president of the consulting firm Lessons in Loyalty. As a former
15-year executive with Southwest Airlines, she takes principles and practices
she helped develop to companies that strive for better employee engagement and
loyalty. Look for her soon-to-be released book, “Award Winning Companies Create
Happy Employees”.