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DEVELOPING AGILITY- SO THI S IS VUCA – Issue 218 – DECEMBER 2022 | Article of the Week

Life and the business context will not become any easier or less uncertain. The VUCA world is now a reality and we are living in truly unprecedented times. To deliver sustainable organisational outcomes in this context requires that businesses, their leaders and their people have the agility and adaptability to find new and unique ways to navigate volatility. The research is unequivocal, to thrive and maintain agility in a volatile context requires resilience at the individual, team and organisation levels.

Life and the business context will not become any easier or less uncertain. The VUCA world is now a reality and we are living in truly unprecedented times. To deliver sustainable organisational outcomes in this context requires that businesses, their leaders and their people have the agility and adaptability to find new and unique ways to navigate volatility. The research is unequivocal, to thrive and maintain agility in a volatile context requires resilience at the individual, team and organisation levels.

We must develop the capacity to thrive and flourish in this new world. Research has consistently shown that individuals with high levels of resilience have an enhanced ability to bounce back from adversity and an increased capacity to thrive in turbulent times (Lipsitt & Demick, 2011 and Wagnild & Young, 1993). From a leadership perspective, this new world is demanding a shift. We know that a transformational leadership style is essential for maintaining engagement and organisational commitment in the context of ongoing change and destabilisation (Gilley, McMillan & Gilley, 2005; Lawler & Worley, 2010). Recent research has shown that without resilience, leaders can’t deliver a transformational style in a volatile context (Folan, 2019).

The volatile context has resulted in a global escalation in mental health issues. Projections from the NHS (The Guardian, 2022) indicate that ten million people will need new or additional support for mental health over the next three-to-five years. Research has shown a strong positive correlation between high resilience levels and enhanced wellbeing (Farber & Rosendahl, 2018). Organisations must develop strategies to effectively manage mental health in today’s business context. Investing in wellbeing and mental health is not only key to supporting individuals but is also essential for delivering sustainable organisational outcomes. While there is extensive research in clinical psychology, it is a relatively new and evolving area in organisational psychology. So, let’s define what we mean by resilience in an organisational context. Resilience is “the internal capacity of the individual which enables them to bounce back from adversity and flourish in the face of challenges while maintaining healthy levels of psychological, emotional and cognitive wellbeing.” (Folan, 2019). Articulating an organisational definition of resilience has allowed the opportunity to evolve the discussions on determinants, measurement and development.

A contemporary research-based model of individual resilience in an organisational context defines three determinants of resilience (Folan, 2019).

Self-concept wellbeing: Individuals with a clear and stable sense of self with healthy psychological functioning and adjustment can maintain their emotional stability and wellbeing in any context. Internal locus of control: individuals with the capacity to assess that their decisions, actions and outcomes are within their SO THIS IS VUCA Life and the business context will not become any easier or less uncertain. The VUCA world is now a reality and we are living in truly unprecedented times. To deliver sustainable organisational outcomes in this context requires that businesses, their leaders and their people have the agility and adaptability to find new and unique ways to navigate volatility. The research is unequivocal, to thrive and maintain agility in a volatile context requires resilience at the individual, team and organisation levels.

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