The Leading in VUCA Programme

The Leading in VUCA Programme

No Matter whether you live, work or manage business in America, Japan, Russia, The Middle East or Europe, there are lots of uncertainties involved and for various reasons they could be economic (financial crisis), natural disasters (like a tsunami or extreme weather conditions) or political turmoil… It is indeed a VUCA world!

VUCA is a term that was coined more than a decade ago by the US army. They described the environment as a VUCA world, meaning that it was volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. This is certainly the least that anyone can say of such turbulent and rapidly changing environments where not all the facts or inter-relationships can possibly be known and leaders have to operate without having all the facts or fully understanding the forces that may be influencing a situation. It takes a certain kind of leader to embrace this ambiguity and provide structure and vision for people.

Why Is It Important?

The VUCA world is not going to disappear. As technology develops faster and the world becomes more and more a global market place, there is no place to hide. Change is relentless and the landscape in which we work is constantly shifting. The leadership role becomes increasingly one of creating moments of clarity and focus, whilst at the same time keeping an eye on what is shifting and preparing to react to it. Reacting without having vision leaves people feeling confused and demotivated.

Rigidly adhering to a chosen strategy risks missing opportunities or failing to respond to market and environmental changes. Somehow leaders need to walk a fine line between these two positions in order to be flexible and yet sufficiently focused to keep people motivated.

VUCA is complex and challenging, but it is also an environment that can allow true leadership talents to emerge at all levels of the organisation. Indeed one of the major lessons of the VUCA world is that leaders need to engage all employees at all levels to gain their trust and contribution in dealing with the great range of challenges that VUCA poses.

Seen from this point of view VUCA becomes an opportunity for development and greater collaboration, rather than a risk to be mitigated.

Programme Take Aways

This programme is designed for managers in organizations who are encountering changes and turbulence, whether this is due to internal factors, external factors or both.

Behaviours like decisiveness, influencing, resilience, flexibility, proactive thinking, dependable working and understanding will be demonstrated in this programme. By doing this, managers and leaders will be leveraging the antidote of VUCA which is VUCA prime by providing VISION, UNDERSTANDING, CLARITY, AGILITY. Managers will be engaged in such a way that fosters their ability to respond to any challenge and make positive decisions that sustain the identified change. They will also be practicing and building the skills to demonstrate these behaviours as follows:

  • Understand how to keep the business on track specially when dealing with rapid changes and uncertainty.
  • Be aware of and appreciate the impact of, change within themselves, their peers and their team members.
  • Learn how to deal with and address team productivity when operating in an environment that is heavily charged by ambiguity.
  • They will be able to build skills such as influencing the various stakeholders to implement the hard decisions and to achieve the anticipated results.
  • How to remain focus on the set objectives and mobilize the team to achieve results.


Programme Modules

Module 1
What is VUCA and what are the symptoms of a VUCA environment?
The evolving business environment and the burning platform.
Understand the bigger picture and strategic purpose of your organization.
What it takes to achieve results in a volatile and turbulent environment?
The qualities and behaviours required to lead in a VUCA context.
Module 3
Leading people in an environment charged with ambiguity.
Making the hard calls in VUCA and following through.
Behaviours needed to overcome ambiguity and complexity in a team context.
Assigning tasks to others while driving and availing support.
Focusing on the strategic goals and outcomes specially when faced with ambiguity and complexity.
Creating a climate where people can perform at their best and make rapid decision without fear.
Module 2
Leadership response to VUCA
Assess the impact of diversity on the way people act, interact and lead in a VUCA world.
Self-discovery and the impact of personal preferences on the way you deal with VUCA.
Identify opportunities and the willingness to capture these in a complex setting.
Being creative in overcoming hurdles to act with great resilience.
Module 4
Leading with agility and resilience
Being resourceful in coping with VUCA.
Create a “can do” culture within the team in order to grasp opportunities.
Role modelling agility and resilience
Influence stakeholders to roll out the agreed decisions.
Dealing with resistance in difficult people.
Coaching labs to help people change and move forwards.



Paula Cook, Management Partner

Paula Cook has been working in the management development field for 17 years. Previously she worked in the area of sales and key account management. Paula was employed by Management Centre Europe (MCE), an organisation offering training and development to companies across Europe.

During this time she held positions of key account manager and project manager and gained experience of managing global projects across three continents for organisations such as Nokia and Finnair.
Paula is a senior consultant in TTM Associates and managed many projects for the regional office in the Middle East, with Vodafone, Etisalat and others. She is also a core faculty member at the Suez University, the corporate university of the French industrial group of the same name.
Paula has worked also for organisations such as the Helsinki School of Economics and the Swedish Institute of Management (IFL). Today Paula’s portfolio comprises companies that include SCA, Bank of New York, Solvay and Egmont.
Some of the most enriching projects that Paula undertakes is with an international NGO, which works with children in developing countries. With this organisation, Paula is able to pass on skills to individuals working directly with communities and children in Africa, Asia and South America. Paula’s competency includes facilitating groups to build on existing strengths and develop new skills. This sometimes involves training in management and interpersonal skills, as well as team building and individual coaching. An important part of this work involves coaching teams to cope with change and challenging situations. The majority of teams that Paula works with are culturally diverse and are often faced with the complexity of not being co-located.
In terms of style, Paula is a firm believer in experiential learning. Wherever possible, learning is accompanied by exercises that involve movement, music, role plays or activities that simulate the work environment. This helps to create learning that is integrated and more easily translated into action in the workplace.
Paula works primarily in English and French. She also speaks German, Swedish and Spanish and has basic understanding of Dutch.

David Bancroft, BA(Hons), MIPD, Dip TM

David’s background is in international banking. He worked for National Westminster Bank for 14 years including four years in the Middle East. He was central to the setting up of a range of overseas acquisitions as well as making a number of strategic disposals.

He was head of management development for a number of large multi national companies and has been an executive coach, trainer and speaker for the last 17 years. He has proven leadership, team and communication skills and experience of managing small and very large teams on a local, regional, matrix and virtual basis. David specializes in leadership development and is best know for his pioneering work in the area of organizational politics having developed and trademarked the unique ‘political intelligence’ process.


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