The Top Six Skills You Need to Thrive in a VUCA world

The Conference Board’s Global leadership Forecast 2014-2015 reports that thirty percent of global companies do not have VUCA – ready leaders.

VUCA, could be a fun Italian word, but it is not.

In this case it stands for a rapidly changing world that is volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. First used by the US Army War College in the 1990s and then applied to the business world by Bob Johansen at the Institute for the Future.

Before we knew about the term VUCA, we depicted the turbulence coming to the accounting world via the CPA Vision 2011 and a “story map” pictured above as the tornado. This was then updated in 2011 as the CPA Horizons 2025 Project . In both cases, the accounting profession identified the drivers of change, opportunities, purpose, values and competencies needed in the future. We just did not know how prescient that work was.

According to the Conference Board,  VUCA ready leaders have these four attributes:

  • Anticipating and reacting to the nature and speed of change.
  • Acting decisively without always having clear direction and certainty.
  • Navigating through complexity, chaos, and confusion.
  • Maintaining effectiveness despite constant surprises and a lack of predictability.

And need these four major skills:

  1. Managing and introducing change;
  2. Building consensus and commitment;
  3. Inspiring others toward a challenging future vision;
  4. Leading across generations.

The CPA Horizons 2025 Project found (from thousands of grassroots CPAs) these top six skills for the future:

  1. Communications;
  2. Leadership;
  3. Critical thinking and problem-solving;
  4. Anticipating and serving evolving needs;
  5. Synthesizing and serving evolving needs;
  6. Integration and collaboration

Don’t these skills fit nicely with the Conference Board’s research? The reality today is that accounting is much more complex than in the past and even lower level or entry level jobs require more communication and analysis of more complex information. The Wall Street Journal in a recent article said it this way,

Tighter regulation, automation and an increasingly complex business landscape require even entry-level accountants to possess a wider range of technical and communications skills, but some CFOs say it is surprisingly difficult to find people up to the task. “

How does your talent development program fit these critical competencies?

Actually the Business Learning Institute was started based on this initial research in 1999 during the CPA Vision 2011 Project.

Let us help you build VUCA ready leaders and help make your team future ready!


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