Leadership and Aikido in a VUCA World” practices applying the principles of Aikido to leadership to meet the new demands of leadership.
I found the change paradigm and VUCA to be useful – a little different from others I’m familiar with. The Aikido principles and practice were wonderful, and Chris’s coaching helped solve a problem for me. ~Janis Avery, Treehouse for Kids
Here are three examples:
- There are no sure next steps
- You can’t have all the answers
- You must manage yourself first, then your organization
For many of us, the new leadership skills and characteristics will be unfamiliar. They may, in fact, be the very things we’ve worked so hard to overcome. We’ve heard for years that the skills and characteristics that got you here are no longer enough. But VUCA adds a new wrinkle – now they won’t just hold you back, they may actually cause you to flounder and your organization to suffer.
Personal Capabilities We Need to Develop
Leading successfully in a VUCA world requires a proactive and productive response to VUCA. That response requires that you “manage yourself first, then your organization.”
… it’s about noticing that you’re off-center sooner and getting re-centered faster. ~ O’Sensei (the founder of Aikido)
This means we start with ourselves – how/who we are, the way we approach the world, the perspectives and world-views we hold, our personal openness and flexibility. Only then is it about how we lead in our organizations.
Here are three (of several) things we need to be able to do:
- Re-centering ourselves, quickly – instead of fighting, fleeing or freezing
- Being comfortable with ambiguity and not knowing – a challenge for those practiced in the command/control approach
- Getting out of our own way – accessing more than just our conscious thoughts
Aikido, Tools and Methodologies
In addition to the more traditional approaches such as coaching, we also work with leaders to incorporate the principles of Aikido (The Way of Harmony or Peace) as a process for understanding and developing grounding/centering capability. To do this, we’re partnering with an Aikido master, Chris Thorsen of Quantum Edge. In our work with him, we’ve deepened this exploration of how to lead in a VUCA world:
- aligning Volatility – Vision with Centered Presence for reframing and non-reactivity by using the body (gut knowing, heart wisdom) to access intuitive vision of possibility;
- aligning Uncertainty – Understanding with Deep Atunement through dialogue to assure listening to and integration with what is, before attempting to decide how to influence a situation;
- and aligning Complexity – Clarity and Ambiguity- Agility with Not Knowing by witnessing what is actually emerging energetically and experimenting for innovative (non-predictable) breakthrough.
It’s essentially another paradox or polarity because it isn’t about finding a way to stay grounded or centered. Instead, as O’Sensei (the founder of Aikido) said, it’s about noticing that you’re off-center sooner and getting re-centered faster.
These are all ways of developing the awareness and ability to get grounded and move forward productively and intentionally.