The acronym VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity) has been around in the US military since 1987, and it really hit organisations in the 2000s as the tectonic plates of the global economy seemed to begin shifting much faster.
A couple of years ago, a coach said to me, "VUCA has had its day". The assumption was that organisations nowadays are in constant flux anyway - leaders are equipped to deal with change as a given, so there isn't much that can truly knock us off our game.
Even ignoring the small matter of Brexit for a moment, which at least is a known unknown with impacts that are relatively quantifiable, the past few days have well and truly pulled the rug out from under the feet of leaders across every organisation regardless of size or sector.
Leadership is desperately important.
Whenever I've seen the Goleman leadership styles model presented, the Coercive style has been offered as the one to use in crisis, the analogy being that the person to successfully save people from a burning building is the one who barks an order to leave. And perhaps that's true to a certain extent in these uniquely challenging times; speed and clarity of decision-making seem to be desirable.
But regardless of the outward manifestation of leadership that we observe, let's not play down the importance of the mindset associated with the Coaching style. By intentionally accepting ambiguity and encouraging creative thinking, leaders will make good decisions through engaging the logical side of the brain as well as the empathetic and imaginative side. If you're feeling like you can't stop to think for 2 minutes, you probably need to stop for 20 minutes.
Many people are suddenly having to answer questions that weren't relevant a week ago.
Some are simple enough: "What does leadership mean when I'm unlikely to see anyone in my team for months?"
Some are unbearably complex: "The business is probably going to fail, I'm probably going to get sick, I probably can't work from home every day, and the children will probably be off school: what am I meant to tell my team?"
Executive coaching is sometimes seen as a nice-to-have - a reward for those tipped for promotion, and a help for those at risk of leaving. But could it be that at times like this, coaching delivers its greatest return on investment?
If you're feeling like you can't stop to think for 2 minutes, you probably need to stop for 20 minutes.