Practice of the Month

How to Lead in These VUCA Times? First, Learn to See.

How to Lead in These VUCA Times? First, Learn to See


Almost everywhere across the globe people are faced with challenges that seem insurmountable in their scope. There are complex and interconnected challenges to our governing institutions, our economic stability, public health on a global scale, and even our personal well-being. To state the obvious, we are dealing with an awfully lot as we head into 2021.  Some refer to these as VUCA days. These are days when the challenges we face are best described as Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous.

Given this reality, how then are we to SEE our way forward?

Science reminds us that the ability to SEE is located in our brains, not just in the two orbs that peer out at the world. Emerging neuroscience has broadened our understanding of perception as an extremely sophisticated phenomenon that goes well beyond the mechanics of literal eyesight. Perception is shaped in decisive ways by a host of emotional factors that both filter and highlight what and how we “SEE” the world around us.


In the midst of a VUCA world, practice Resilient Leadership’s “New Way of SEEING” by committing to a regular practice of observing how the emotional dynamics of our nation, our communities, your work or home systems are playing out.

Try It:

Choose a time and place when you can “get on the balcony” and simply observe without judgement. Step away from being so heavily involved in the drama around you that you lose your focus. Watch how your children interact at play or observe the shifting roles that co-workers play in routine meetings. You might even take notes on such things as the subtle reactivity you observe around anxious conversations, the reciprocal patterns that characterize work or home triangles, the Over and Underfunctioning on the part of certain individuals and others with whom they are connected.

It’s always easiest to observe the flow of emotions in others—but don’t fail to include a healthy measure of self-awareness as you grow your observational skills. Regular practice, for 15 or even 5 minutes daily, will strengthen your ability to SEE the workings of the emotional systems to which you belong.

You’ll soon discover that the heightened perception you bring to situations will result in greater clarity as you seek to envision the way forward in a VUCA world.