A New Approach to Coaching Leaders in a Volatile, Uncertain, Chaotic, and Ambiguous World

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A New Approach to Coaching Leaders in a Volatile, Uncertain, Chaotic, and Ambiguous World

A New Approach to Coaching Leaders in a Volatile, Uncertain, Chaotic, and Ambiguous World

This On-Demand event was originally presented on May 1, 2024 (60 min)


In today’s business world, change is constant. Leaders must be adaptable and innovative to keep up with new technologies and global markets. This chaotic environment calls for a different approach to leadership that emphasizes adaptability and innovation. The Volatile, Uncertain, Chaotic, and Ambiguous (VUCA) framework provides a valuable lens for understanding the challenges of today’s business world. By measuring a leader’s propensity for change and coaching them to develop the necessary skills, we can help them effectively navigate the VUCA environment.

This live event is free. A recording will be available after the event with an HRDQ-U Membership for Learning Professionals.

Attendees will learn

  • How to create a “Leadership Approach to VUCA.”
  • How the world of VUCA shifted the way we lead.
  • Common VUCA elements in the remote workplace.
  • The seven behavior elements every leader should develop in today’s fast-changing world.
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A New Approach to Coaching Leaders in a Volatile, Uncertain, Chaotic, and Ambiguous World


Judith Cardenas is the president and CEO of Strategies By Design, a boutique consulting firm helping organizations across the globe to innovate and design successful solutions and experiences for their clients. She has spent the last 10+ years empowering leaders and organizations to execute their vision and reach their goals through processes focused on innovation, change, and co-creation. Her academic background includes a doctorate in education administration, as well as a doctorate in training and performance improvement. She has completed a variety of postdoctoral training, including leadership development at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, professional for return on investment from Villanova University, plus she holds a number of certifications in Innovation and Design Thinking. Judith has created and delivered training to organizations and agencies such as the World Bank, United Nations, QVC, Inc., Phillips Semiconductor, U.S. Navy, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Agency and U.S. Army, National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development/UT Austin, and American College of Radiology.


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Strategies By Design Group

Helping foster the culture of innovation needed to stay competitive in today’s modern, ever-changing market, the Strategies By Design Group applies innovative techniques and approaches to achieve immediate engagement and growth. And enhances the connection between behavior design and human-centric design.

Learn more at www.strategiesbydesigngroup.com

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A New Approach to Coaching Leaders in a Volatile, Uncertain, Chaotic, and Ambiguous World

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A New Approach to Coaching Leaders in a Volatile, Uncertain, Chaotic, and Ambiguous World

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7 Responses

  1. Question: How is your assessment different from what is in the market?
    Answer: First, it is normed, that it has validity and reliability. It’s normed. Or the validity is actually strengthened through artificial intelligence. It is based on a number of dimensions, so you can pick and choose the dimension. There are dimensions that you are actually looking to measure. We also know that it has the ability to be fully customisable. So, it has all the other elements of being mobile and, you know, being able to see it on a phone, or iPad, or computer, or different languages, but it’s actually be been validated, in different countries, as well. Because, as you know, and I know, there’s different meanings to different words. So, there are some reliability and validity studies per country as well. I think the biggest element is that you’re actually measuring yourself against yourself. You’re measuring yourself against your own propensity or your own set of behaviors for how you would react. Each of the elements have a large dimension with the number of questions under it. It’s rated on a 1 to 10 scale, on how often, I might do this optimally, I express myself this way. And I’m normally myself against my my own. I’m thinking about how I do it, not how I do it, compared to how a thousand other people do it. So, I think it’s very unique in that way, And we do believe that it’s a new platform to know for somebody to be totally customizable and white label it and have AI elements to it. We just feel like that’s a bit more cutting-edge than what’s out there today.

  2. Question: How can I coach a fast prepare to coach and ethical world?
    Answer: one way would be is to, and I know you’ll have access to this PowerPoint, is to go back and really understand the definition of the elements and what’s out in the literature of how it’s defined. Knowing that, you know, we talk about things like leadership or strategy, or no curiosity, but what does that really mean? And how does that really expressed? And is it expressed the same way virtually as it is face-to-face? Understanding, I think, those basic elements really does help a coach, ask questions differently, and watch for different patterns and different triggers. The goal is really to help someone navigate through those patterns. To give them ideas and different questions, to ask and have them shift in perspective versus trying to change their personality, I’m never gonna make an introvert or an extrovert. I’m never gonna make, you know, someone, someone that they’re not. but I can give them tools so that they can Navigate the world in a different way and ask questions, maybe, to get a different result. So that would be my, my, my response to that question.

  3. Question: What three coaching tips would you share with a new leader in today’s workplace?
    Answer: Tip number one is to understand oneself, one’s propensity, but not necessarily one’s personality. You know, you can have an amazing leader, who can navigate through VUCA, who could be an introvert. To understand one’s propensity of behaviors. To understand how they normally react and change to shifts in the environment that they have no control over. I think one coaching question and tip, we also ask if there’s a a piece of literature that’s coming out called Ghost Ghost leadership. And basically it’s it’s studies that have been happening at MIT that are focused on how you dealt with conflict. And arguments and discourse as a child are often reflected in the workplace as an adult. So, oftentimes, we’d love to open up conversations. Know, how did you deal with conflict around uncertainty as a childhood and teenage years? And do you see similar patterns in the workplace? That opens up tons of discussion and really, very engaging and insight tool insights at all, if we use the coach approaches as well. Then the third coaching element is really looking back to look forward. You know, are there particular patterns or triggers that have occurred in your, in your professional life that you see are pretty common? Because when you weave those in, in a world of volatility uncertainty, those triggers and patterns are actually highlighted at a higher level. They’re just like neon light blinking on them. And so, those are the three kind of coaching, questions or tips that we have. Then we actually, then work with the client around those elements of understand their propensity of behavior. We are naturally wired to be very, uh, not responsive to change, and we’re naturally wired to be creatures of habit. To understand, someone’s habits, we believe really helps us reveal those behaviors that we think will make some leaders successful, or someone very challenged in the book environment. So that’s what I would would share with you.

  4. Question: How does the leader’s ability to navigate VUCA impact team dynamics?
    Answer: We do know that when a leader cannot compel, cannot keep a team task oriented, even through uncertainty and volatility, that the team itself tends to lose enthusiasm. Engagement goes down and so does productivity. We believe VUCA is here to stay. I think Covid changed how we defined VUCA. I will tell you, we will always live in a world of volatility and uncertainty, but I do think that Covid has shifted what that means for us. There’s not a day where I turn on the TV to watch the news, and something hasn’t happened somewhere in the world. We live in a global economy, so the actuality of something impacting the team is quite high. A leader’s ability to navigate VUCA and understand the propensity of their own behaviors has a direct correlation with performance and engagement. I will say that that’s heightened even more when the leader or manager works remotely, when you’re not even seeing your team or working directly with your team face-to-face. There are all these elements that occur that I believe can compel someone, but how you compel someone virtually or remotely is quite different, which is an opportunity for coaching. We do have elements of remote assessments, like how to lead remotely, that can actually be combined with a VUCA assessment as well.

  5. Question: Does this assessment have a 360 component?
    Answer: Yes, it has a 360 component which is really amazing. You can actually customize your 360 against the values of the organization, along with any cognitive and any other of the dimensions that are related. We have a 360, we have a 180, and it’s among multiple languages, I believe nine of ten languages, and the report is very interesting. You get a coaches report. We train people on how to utilize it and how to customize the assessment for yourself, and then on top of that we have a benchmarking system, where you can actually assess ten or twenty of your top performers and you use that as a benchmark and then there is a way that anyone who takes the assessment after that is measured against the benchmark.

  6. Question: What do you consider long-term? Covid has changed the definition, I think.
    Answer: I agree with you. Covid has changed a lot of things, and definitely the definition of long-term. We still work with organizations that still have five-year strategic plans, if you can believe that. We encourage eighteen months, two years at the most, and even that seems quite long. Iterative planning and iterative strategy seems to work better in these times of volatility, and I still believe, from a business perspective, we are not out of Covid. We have not landed where we will be as a foundational element. I think we’re redefining terms as well. We’re redefining success, we’re redefining client engagement, employee engagement. I think there are many factors that are influencing long-term types of planning. When we work with government contractors, or our government contracts, they have long-term goals and their long, and yet, in the face of ambiguity and change, those goals shift very quickly. Their planning perspective doesn’t and their thinking about the future doesn’t. But I would say long should not be more than eighteen months to two years, and even that feels long when I say it aloud. I think Covid has changed it, and I think we will continue to see disruption and we will continue to see automation continue to change the workplace and we will continue to see the redefinition of work in the future, and that will happen very quickly.

  7. Question: What’s your take on large tech recent responses related to leadership and VUCA moments, Twitter, Meta, etc.? Are leadership principles and competencies changing?
    Answer: Leadership is leadership, no matter what. The definitions don’t change, even though times and things are changing. We do think that leadership is changing. We see leadership in a digital format changing, how a team leads an innovative organization is different, and under VUCA, you know as I said before, we spent about three or six months using some of the more traditional assessments that are out there, but we really couldn’t get to what’s the propensity of how you behave during uncertainty or ambiguity. When we got to that moment, I would say leadership was redefined for us, for the team and the leader that we worked with. I will be the outlier, and I will say, I think leadership is being redefined. It’s being redefined at the moment of uncertainty and right now we are living in a world of uncertainty. What kind of leader we need in today’s world and tomorrow’s world, I think will be different. We’re seeing organizations hiring people that are not in the specific career fields. This gives me a tiny glimpse that maybe we are changing the definition of leadership.


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