iphone listening shutterstock_519216199

The HaBO Village Podcast

How Your Business Can Combat Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity [Podcast]

Episode 180: Michael and Kathryn explain the concept of VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity) and four ways your company can combat it. If you want practical tools that will both ease your anxiety and steer your business in the right direction, then give this episode a listen.

complexity illustration with arrows


In This Episode You Will...

  • Discover the origins of the term VUCA and the negative ways it affects organizations.

  • Find out the four ways to combat VUCA in your life and business.

  • Get expert advice for moving forward in an uncertain economy.

“VUCA... Owning it, codifying it, and articulating it for your people and yourself will help position your organization to be less vulnerable."

- Kathryn Redman


Download the leadership growth scorecard


itunes logo     Listen on Spotify

Ready to take a listen? Like what you hear? Make sure you become a subscriber to get the latest and greatest of our podcast episodes.

SHARE | | |

Michael:             Welcome to the HaBO Village Podcast, where we talk about developing the whole leader for the whole business. I'm Michael Redman.

Kathryn:             And I'm Kathryn Redman.

Michael:             This is the podcast for entrepreneurs, founders, and business owners, leaders like you, who are running companies.

Kathryn:             Our goal is to encourage you to give you practical tips and tools you can apply today. And even more importantly, remind you that you are not in this alone.

Michael:             Because we believe that you can build a company that is financially successful, fulfilling for you and your team, and avoid burnout all at the same time.

Kathryn:             We know because we've done it and we've been helping other leaders do it too for over 20 years.

Michael:             So welcome to today's show. Let's dive in. Let me ask you a question, listeners.

Kathryn:             I was like, "Me? What?"

Michael:             Not you. Are you experiencing or are you seeing in the world today areas of volatility where really things are changing to the left and the right, up and down, there's a lot of dynamics going on, things are happening when you don't expect it? Do you see that in the world today? Do you see a level of uncertainty in the world today? Are you seeing and wondering what's going to happen with the economy right now? What's going to happen with interest rates? I was talking to a banker yesterday, he's like, "I don't see a recession coming at all." I'm like, "Well, that's very interesting." There's plenty of other people who see a massive recession coming and so on and so forth.

Michael:             Do you see a lot more complexity in the way it runs your business, the laws you need to have if you have employees, the legislation that's going on on all the restrictions you have? And even the complexity you have to deal with if you're in the shipping world like we are in one of our companies? The complexity of just getting shipping containers and getting them on a ship and navigating the system, it's just become so much more complex and difficult and there's so many more roadblocks ahead of us.

Michael:             And then one final question. Do you find that there's a lot of ambiguity about things right now? I mean, come on, everywhere you turn, there is somebody saying that word doesn't mean what you think it means or concepts that we thought we knew, but now it's more ambiguous, like, "Well, I can make this term up. I can have this."? Or just plain old facts? It's like, "What can I count on? What can I stand on? What is solid ground?" If you're experiencing any of those four things, and if you're experiencing all of them like most of us, what you're experiencing is what has been called VUCA. Today, we're going to talk about VUCA, volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity.

Michael:             Kathryn, we've been talking about this for a long time.

Kathryn:             We have. And just to clarify, because if you're hearing this for the first time or you've heard it a little bit but you don't have a lot of clarity on it, VUCA is a term that really the United States War College was one of the first to really use it in a meaningful way that began to bleed into society. And that was following the 9/11 terrorist attacks when they first started using it. So military planners were super worried about just the reality of the different and all the unfamiliar terrain, like, we had never been attacked on our own soil, what is that going to look like and how do we begin to assess what moving forward looks like? And so they termed this complete new scene that we were in, VUCA, right? So volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity.

Kathryn:             So that's kind of a little bit of the background of it. And then the guy who's known for sort of bringing it into the business world is a guy named Bob Johansen. And he adapted it in his 2009 book leaders make the future. So he began to talk about VUCA back in 2009. So this is not a new concept.

Michael:             Right.

Kathryn:             But it's new for some people.

Michael:             Yeah. Well, and it's being used in some places quite well and frequently, but a lot of people, it's not in the main media at all. And we talk about it if you listen to us. Now, the other thing that's important to know is today's podcast is actually the third in a short series that we're doing. We're not 100% sure how many it's going to be in this series, but three to five.

Kathryn:             Today might be it. We go [inaudible 00:03:58] "And we're done."

Michael:             We've got a fourth one coming for sure, in a series on self-care and basically stress management. And basically this idea of leadership self-care, the path to profit, peace and resistance was our cool little-

Kathryn:             Resilience.

Michael:             Resilience.

Kathryn:             Not resistance.

Michael:             Resilience, was our cool little title.

Kathryn:             Resistance is futile. Let's go resilience.

Michael:             There we go. And so, but the reality is we need to be taking better care of ourselves because there are lots of influences pushing on us on a regular basis as business leaders and organizational leaders. And if we're going to be successful in creating this kind of company that's continues to be profitable and fulfilling and actually doesn't lead to burnout, then we're going to have to deal with some things. And in the midst of self care and this kind of inner game work, you've got to be thinking about some of these influences and know what's coming at you so that you can employ the right kind of strategies.

Kathryn:             Yeah. Well, and in any world, for forever, business by its nature is about taking risks and managing uncertainties. I mean, that is part of it. If you're a business leader, if you started a business, if you're running a company, this is what you signed up for whether you meant to or didn't, right? So this is part of life, but then when we take the reality of the world that we're living in and there's all of this external pressure that's definitely impacting you, also impacting your team, right?

Michael:             Yeah.

Kathryn:             Because they're reading the news, they're processing the daily uncertainties of everything. And we live in this world that the access to information has just rapidly increased, right? So back when the War College started to use this and back even when it was brought into business, social media wasn't a thing yet.

Michael:             No.

Kathryn:             The constant ability to text anytime you want, those just weren't even things. And now that we have this instant access to information, it's all incredibly overwhelming. Someone else is vetting it for us, depending on the algorithms.

Michael:             Right.

Kathryn:             I mean, it is a weird world. So running a business now, there's just so much more information and exposure, which can lead to the ambiguity and the uncertainty and the confusion that comes with just so much.

Michael:             Okay. So let's jump into this right now. Let's start with these and let's walk through... Well, I want to walk through the four pieces of VUCA and actually talk real high level about what are those some of the ways, just conceptually at a real high level, that you can combat these things. What are our resources? What can we do? And then possibly as we get into, you've got this really cool list of-

Kathryn:             I do have this really cool list.

Michael:             ... you're reading through, in your opinion, and now obviously we should have talked about this before, but which one do you want to start with? Do you want to start with this cool list to talk about? Or do you want to jump in high level and then go to the list?

Kathryn:             No, I think actually the list positions why it matters to unpack all this stuff.

Michael:             Okay. Go through the list.

Kathryn:             So yeah, I just found this great article online and it talks about what a VUCA environment does to an organization. So when you're living in a world that is dealing with all of this uncertainty, and you're trying to manage a team in the age of VUCA, this person lists this impact, the kind of impacts that it can have. So a VUCA environment, for example, it can destabilize your people. It can destabilize you and make you anxious, right? It can sap motivation, because the more anxiety is coming from the outside, the more it's hard to just keep moving forward. It can make constant retraining and reshaping a necessity because the ability to hold onto even what you're supposed to be doing on any given day gets a little bit compromised. It takes a huge amount of time and effort to fight. It increases the chances of people making bad decisions.

Michael:             It increases the possibility. What was this? Exactly.

Kathryn:             The chances of people making bad decisions.

Michael:             The chances?

Kathryn:             Yeah. Because the exhaustion, the fatigue, the fear, all those things that stop your brain from doing good processing, good creative thinking, good decision making and having good judgment, those get impaired in the middle of this.

Michael:             So we talked about it in the last episode about stress and major stressors and things like that that we actually can measure. When we talked about those in the last episode, we realized that VUCA is one of those external influences. It's a way of codifying what's going on around us so that we can understand what's actually causing some of this stress. And if you want to talk about more about understanding deeper level of stress, go back to the last episode and listen to what those things are. There's actually 12 to 14 questions at the end of the podcast that we have that are questions you can ask yourself every day to help kind of stay on top of that. But we talk throughout the rest of the podcast of that idea of what are some of those specific things that is in stress. How do we define stress?

Michael:             And then, because that's what's going on, stress, it's that stress that's causing your potential for making these mistakes. So how is VUCA doing that? It's stressing all your people at multiple levels. It might be stressing them out as in their frazzled. The stress could be fatiguing them. Yeah. And I want to talk about fatigue in another episode, but fatigue's a big deal.

Kathryn:             It is a big deal. We'll definitely come back to that. The other thing is that when you're living in a VUCA world, it can paralyze your decision making process because you're just like, "What do I do next? I don't understand what's happening in the world. This choice I have to make has implications. What if I'm wrong?" And so it can paralyze your decision making process, which can jeopardize your long term projects. I mean, so there's all of that kind of stuff.

Michael:             I was coaching a leader one day earlier this week, and literally there are certain things that are happening in the cash flow of the company and certain places where it has diminished only 10%, but it's amazing how much that was part of their cash flow budget strategy. All of a sudden you could see the stress level in this leader going up. What we did is we brainstormed. And to his credit, he's like, "I need something tangible." And I'm like, "We got you." So we brainstormed four things that were really tangible that he could grab a hold of. This is somebody who's a very successful leader who's doing great work It just so happened we were at an engagement last night and I was having a conversation with a senior leader who is now becoming seasoned in his career at a senior level. He's been doing it now for like seven years, eight years since he took over this senior position in the organization.

Michael:             Another person who was dynamic in a whole another company came into their company and all of a sudden started getting stressed, because the dynamics, the industry wasn't different, but the company and the way it interacts with its customer base and everything else was different. It was amazing how he was talking about having just like... Without me telling him my story of coaching this week, he automatically went into, "Okay, you're feeling overwhelmed. You're feeling stressed. The best way to handle that right now is to get one or two things that are going to matter, and let's do them what we could do now. And plan for your meeting with your team on Friday and prep and plan that." And he said he got an email later that day, it was like, "You know what? That was helpful." This is a senior leader who's not immune to sometimes being overwhelmed and stressed. "Where do I go in decision?" And the failure to make a decision can be your ultimate failure. And so finding something. The other thing that can be dangerous is just doing stuff to do stuff.

Kathryn:             Right. It has to be stuff that matters. Otherwise, you're just going to feel more overwhelmed.

Michael:             So yeah, this idea of "What do I do?" is all that was to that point.

Kathryn:             Yeah. So just last couple of things. So obviously, this kind of goes without saying, but it can overwhelm individuals and organizations and take a toll on your internal culture. VUCA is taking a toll on our cultures. It's just an issue of, are we actually addressing it and managing it in ways that are helpful, which is part of what we're going to be getting to. Yeah. And so as we kind of now begin to unpack what these different things are and how we can begin to manage them and kind of walk forward in meaningful and helpful ways in managing VUCA, kind of the last thing on this list that I just found really intriguing was this concept that if you're not managing it, the external VUCA world can bleed inwards and it just creates a VUCA environment. So suddenly, if you've had this culture that didn't have a bunch of drama and stress, if you don't manage a VUCA, you will end up with a culture that has the VUCA in it.

Michael:             Now, let's camp on this one for a moment, because I think this is interesting. So elaborate on this more. What is it that's intriguing to you about this?

Kathryn:             I think that, again, we live in a world, a business world, that artificially separates the external personal life and world from actually being involved in a business. "Leave your stuff at home. That's your personal life. This is your real life." But when we think about being holistic and we think about the fact that as we often say you bring your whole self to work, if you don't acknowledge that as a leader, that they're bringing their whole selves to work, then those things that are happening that are stressing them, that are making them nervous and anxious in their personal world are going to bring VUCA into your organization.

Kathryn:             So I think that's what intrigues me about it, is that sense of that bleed from what's happening out there to what's happening within our walls, or virtual walls or however your company's set up is very, very real. If we're not being proactive about it, it will sneak up on our organization. Because people, again, they get short with their language, they get irritated, they're easily frustrated, they're making bad decisions. All of those things can bleed VUCA into your organization. And suddenly, you have stuff that is problematic going on.

Michael:             So remind me in California last year the really big wildfire we had up by Quincy.

Kathryn:             The Dixie Fire?

Michael:             Yeah. And then we've got another fire going on right now in Northern California. Yes, California has a challenge with fires right now. No, all of California is not a fire danger. We're not running around avoiding. For those of you who aren't listening, or listening [inaudible 00:14:24]-

Kathryn:             It is blue sky outside here.

Michael:             Okay. This whole thing is interesting to me because it's making me think of forest fires because what we're doing is VUCA in the outside world can create VUCA in your organization. There's probably two ways to think about that. One way you could interpret that... There might be more, but there's two ways I'm thinking about. One is that duh, it's just like applying heat to food. The heat goes out, it heats it up. Therefore, it's hot too. You put it in the oven and you put it in skillet or put it in the microwave and it excites everything and it does that. There is that sense of the temperature in an oven, the food eventually is going to try and come to that if you leave it in there long enough, right?

Kathryn:             Yeah.

Michael:             That's what so cooking is sous vide cooking. Sous vide cooking, it's-

Kathryn:             Don't go very far down that bunny trail.

Michael:             All right. Sous vide cooking-

Kathryn:             Don't do it. That'll be another episode.

Michael:             Sous vide cooking is really... It's just a style of cooking where you take food and put it back and then you immerse it in water. It actually does spring the food to that temperature of the water. So that's even better because you are actually, if the water is 130 degrees, the food in an hour will be 130 degrees. And if that's what you like your steak, it's amazing. But there's another way. That's a radiant type of heat that goes in. And I think when VUCA affects an organization, you could be reading it as it creates VUCA in the organization as, "Well, yeah. At some point if the air conditioner house is none, it can heat up the house and that's radiant heat." The heat inside. It's hot inside, hot outside.

Michael:             But there's another thing that's going on, and I think about it with the fires. And it's, when VUCA happens, the VUCA outside's like a storm. It's like a weather pattern. What it can cause is it can cause, at some point, this radiant heat that at some point transmutes into its own pattern, its own style of VUCA. It's different than what's going on in the outside. It causes havoc. They've been doing it in military tactics for years. How do you cause havoc and instability in another troop, another government, something like that? VUCA does that to your organization. And the reason I was thinking about forest fires, especially the Dixie one, follow me folks, I'm going to land this plane here, I can see the runway, is that the Dixie Fire and the McKinney Fire is probably doing some of this too. It's a 60,000 acre fire currently in Northern California in your Oregon border. They start to create their own weather patterns.

Michael:             So what we would love nothing more in Northern California and California in general is to have rain. We would like our drought to end. But all of a sudden, you've got this fire that starts and it becomes so crazy with its own volatility, uncertainty, complexity. I mean, forest fire is VUCA incarnate. It just running around destroying everything. But inside of it, all of a sudden it starts to create its own weather. We had lightning storms and clouds and all kinds of stuff last year in the Dixie Fire that were doing stuff that if you were outside the fire smoke ring from the air or anything else, that weather didn't exist anywhere else but in that fire. And VUCA, it's not just a radiant. It starts to become something that it's its own thing. It doesn't look like what's going on outside. It can actually cause more chaos inside.

Michael:             That's the point right there, is VUCA can cause more chaos inside your organization. And it may not look like the chaos in the rest of the world because of your microcosm and all of a sudden... And you've got to fight it. You've got to figure out how to identify it and look at it.

Michael:             So let's jump in and go, "Okay. So how do you fight this?" How do you fight this weather pattern that starts in your company that's actually wreaking havoc or this storm that's going through your company. Let's start with volatility. There's several things you can do, but the first thing that I really like is this concept of making sure your vision is clear.

Kathryn:             Yeah. You counter volatility with vision. "I know where we're going. We have a plan. We're heading in the right direction." So your team understanding what your vision is and what the path forward looks like regularly and how they fit into it, this thing that we talk about often, this clear, complete, compelling vision, something they're bought into, that helps counter that volatility, because it's like, "Yeah, there's stuff going on I can't control, but I know what we're trying to achieve. I know where we're going.", right?

Michael:             Yep. Yep. Now, and it's clear. I mean, when you're in a battle, in war, one of the things or any kind of activity where there's a lot of pressure and stress and things coming in war, you never know where the enemy is, where are the bullets coming from and so on and so forth, keeping a clear, "This is the vision. This is the mission." And in a good vision, you've got not only where are you going, why are we doing it, and how will we do it, how will we behave in the process.

Kathryn:             What are the values that we're going to uphold as we move forward?

Michael:             Right.

Kathryn:             Super critical.

Michael:             It's very strange, but even in war, there is ethics. You have these rules of engagement that humanity in general as we're trying to kill each other have said, "We will not violate because they're too harsh." And then somebody does and they go on trial for it eventually or whatever. But these things that you're like, "This is kind of weird." But in this volatility, you want to have clear vision, "Where are we going? What is this? Men and women, folks, people on our team, I know things are crazy. Let's just remind ourselves. This is where we're going. This is why we exist as a company. And this is how we will behave in the midst of all of this. This is the dignity we will have. This is the tone we will set."

Michael:             And as a leader, one of your jobs is to continue to remind people of what the vision is. It's funny because VUCA, on a regular day when you're not talking about VUCA, the best thing you can be doing is going, "I have to have a clear, complete and compelling vision that I'm reminding people about on a regular basis so that they're not just aware of it, but they're bought in and excited or engaged on." And when things are frazzled, then you can come back and go, "Remember?" "Oh yeah. Okay. That's it." Just focus on that and go.

Kathryn:             I think another thing that is important in the middle of countering volatility is really sort of embracing the fact that change is real. You can resist it. You can push back. You can fight, but the harder you fight, the worse it actually is, right? So creating a culture that understands that change is real and change is happening and we are going to move forward and we're going to be okay, but we may not be able to do what we used to do or whatever else is really, really important, right? So just kind of embracing change as opposed to resisting, really important.

Michael:             Well, and remembering that vision and strategy are different, are separate. A strategic plan is something that allows us to adjust to the volatility or any kind of obstacle to our vision. It doesn't mean we're not going to the vision anymore. It just-

Kathryn:             Just we're flexible in how we actually get there.

Michael:             Yeah. I mean, we talk about vision all the time as a road trip, right?

Kathryn:             Mm-hmm.

Michael:             And quite frankly, those things are just detours.

Kathryn:             When the rocks fall and cover the road, you still need to get your destination, but you're just going to have to go a different way.

Michael:             And so therefore we change our strategy. That's okay. And we'll talk about that in another couple of steps. Meet uncertainty with understanding. What are your competitors doing? What's new in your industry? When you're in the-know, you'll be able to anticipate threats and take advantage of new opportunities. These are interesting points and thoughts, but you want to come back to uncertainty as, "I don't know what's going on." What do you know? What do you understand? And double down on that.

Kathryn:             Yeah. Well, and also if you approach something with an attitude of understanding, it means that you're going to take a beat. "Let me just pause and think about this for a minute. Let me evaluate this. Let me understand what's happening." Because if you move into understanding, then you're more able to, again, take a beat, make good decisions, slow it down a little bit. All of those kinds of things. So really, taking the time to understand the inputs can help just create a better future.

Michael:             No, absolutely. When we think about those things, you just... Grabbing a hold of what you can grab a hold of that you know is certain, it's a reference. As we're going through this, I continue to think of sailing. I was taught how to sail a small craft when I was a teenager. I liked sailing and I was taught how to do motorboats and do some boating stuff and navigating. You have calm waters and you have rough waters. One of those things is, grabbing a hold of what you do know and making sure that you focus on that. In a storm like that in a boat, you're going to be looking for a horizon. And you have to look off if you can find a horizon. When you can't find a horizon, sometimes that gets messy. Things are bouncing all over the place. And double down on the fundamentals.

Kathryn:             Yeah. Well and pausing to go, "What are we doing well? And again, how do we keep doing that?", right?

Michael:             Yeah.

Kathryn:             Because when we get thrown off, when uncertainty hits, it's easy to forget that we actually know what we're doing. We're going to be okay. We've survived things before. It's not like the worlds are coming to an end in this particular instance. So again, just really approaching that, take a beat, meet uncertainty with understanding, and it'll allow you to move through it a little bit easier.

Michael:             Yeah. Okay. React to complexity with clarity. It may feel like some of these solutions are overlapping, and they are a little bit, but react to complexity with clarity. Complexity can be overwhelming, right? Complexity happens. So we talk about the fact that when an organization or a machine or an organism, they say that if it doubles in size, that it increases in complexity. Especially machine, if it doubles in size, it increases in complexity usually by 10. Now, sometimes that number is 5, 6, 7. I've done some of the math, depending on what it is. But we're talking about the fact that if you have 10 people in your organization or 100 people in your organization and you double the amount of potential connections, like you multiply... If it's 100 to 200, you don't add it. You go a 100 times 100, or 200 times 200. And that answer between those two numbers is pretty different.

Michael:             That's the complexity, the possible of connections and possibilities of pass and things that could go wrong. And then you add to that all the responsibilities, all these new people have and all the different things they're working on. And at any one point as VUCA is impacting them in their own personal lives, I mean, what is more challenging in VUCA when a major relationship is disrupted, when someone you love all of a sudden has cancer? Talk about disorienting. And so you've got that complexity go back to as much clarity as you can bring for people on what they're doing, or when the problem seems overwhelming, stop, get clarity on the problem. Get clarity on what happened and what the issues are. And then in the midst of the complexity, you will find the solutions faster.

Michael:             So many times people just don't clarify what they mean and they're talking in fuzzy terms. Words a fuzzy term, if you haven't heard us talk about, that is a word that could mean anything to different people. Love is one of those. Work is one of those. Ask 10 people what work is or what love is and they have different answers. And so let's get clarity on what we mean. Let's get clarity on what we said. Let's stop talking as if everybody knows what happened. Let's go through it one piece at a time. Sometimes it's really difficult because people don't think like that and you have to work hard to slow them down and get clarity.

Kathryn:             Well, and as a leader, one of your primary jobs is you've got to communicate. You've got to communicate clearly. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. Right? You've got to communicate your vision. You've got to communicate the goals. You've got to communicate the strategic plan. You've got to communicate all of your expectations. And in a VUCA world, the importance of clear communication just gets continually stepped up because people have to be reminded. "Say it again. Say it again. Say it again." It's true for Provision. We talk about this even in our book, right? You have to communicate. And people won't understand it before you're sick of saying it, whatever it is, right?

Michael:             Yeah.

Kathryn:             So that communication to meet this complexity with clarity and communication, and really going after making sure people understand in your organization you know what you're doing and why you're doing it, and how to think through and respond to whatever is it is that you're facing. So that clarity is really critical.

Michael:             No, I like it. Okay. The final one here is fight ambiguity with agility. There are different ways and different... Probably multiple. If we brainstorm enough, we could come up with a small handful of key strategies for each one of these terms of VUCA. But this ambiguity with agility is really interesting because it's amazing how agile people don't get how agile people are not. As we do something longer and longer and longer, our bodies do this for us. The more we sit in one position all the time, the less flexible we get, the less agile we get, our balances off, the more we do one thing in one company. And I'm not saying you should jump around, but you have to be careful when you're working the long game and working it in a way that's going to be successful and low stress that you have to be not locked into "This is the way we do it all the time."

Michael:             You know that saying "If it's not broke, don't fix it"?

Kathryn:             Right.

Michael:             It's great within a certain context, but if it causes you to not have agility, because it's not, if a storm will come, it's when the storm comes.

Kathryn:             Right.

Michael:             Can you handle it or will it knock you overboard?

Kathryn:             Yeah. Well, I think that, even if you look at history, large organizations that seem like they were going to rule the world forever and then the world changed. Those that were not adapting, those that had like, "We have a tried and true way of doing this. Were going to keep doing it," and then who has heard of the PalmPilot? Who's heard of it actually? Right? Some of those technologies were up and coming and then they get locked in and then they don't adapt. And suddenly, the rug is pulled out from under them with a technology. And I think many of those leaders were probably forewarned in some way and just couldn't believe that they needed to adapt. And then there's illustrations out there of those kinds of things. So you have to adapt. You have to be agile.

Michael:             There's multiple reasons of not being agile. One of them is hubris, being just prideful. I have been listening to Gary V lately. I periodically listen... If you don't know who Gary V is, Gary V made a very successful go of it on the internet for wine.

Kathryn:             Yeah [inaudible 00:30:10].

Michael:             And wine selling. His parents were immigrants. They work hard and they ran a little liquor store and he took it and blew it up. And now he owns an international marketing firm and speaking and-

Kathryn:             And probably his own island somewhere

Michael:             He's something else. And you know what's interesting is, there's parts of Gary's message that I get frustrated with and I don't like and all that, but I do respect certain things that he says a lot. One of them is to have a good work ethic and the other is stay humble. He drops the F bomb all the time and all that kind of stuff, but he's like, "You want to stay humble. You're never above helping anybody.". He knows that pride can screw things up. I like that because at least he's not the only voice at all. And there are some people who confuse confidence with pride, and there's a difference. I mean, being humble, as we talk about, is a great definition for humility is confidence properly placed. If you are a brain surgeon and you're one of the top five in the world, there is nothing prideful about saying, "I'm a brain surgeon and I'm one of the top five in the world. I am excellent at what I do." But when it starts to elevate you as the value of a human being over other people-

Kathryn:             Or it puts you in a position where you assume you cannot make a mistake.

Michael:             Yes.

Kathryn:             You're too good to make a mistake. That's where hubris comes in. It's like, Nope, everybody's going to fail at some point, at some level. Let's pray it's not where you have my head cut open. So that staying humble is that acknowledgement that none of us are perfect. And none of us can see everything, right? So in a world that has a lot of ambiguity in it, collaborating with trusted other thinking partners and people who are maybe not in your little bubble that can see things that you can't see. And even with your staff, collaborating and asking questions and making sure that your leadership style is not the autocratic "I'm in charge. I know exactly what's going on. And you will do as I say, thank you very much." So yeah, the ambiguity can be fought by just having agility and just embracing again what does it look like to create new ideas, and think of outside the box and not get stuck in "This is the way we've always done it."

Michael:             Yeah. VUCA is going to be really important for you to pay attention to. It's a term that needs to be on your radar. It's a term that you need to actually be thinking about on a regular basis. And here's an exercise for you. What I want you to do is as you move forward to the next few days and few weeks, I want you to be thinking about VUCA, if you need to take a post-it and write VUCA, V-U-C-A, and put that acronym on your monitor or something like that, and I want you to start looking for ways that you can start seeing in your daily activities something that's volatile, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity. I'm not trying to convince you that VUCA exists.

Kathryn:             It does.

Michael:             It does.

Kathryn:             Whether you believe it or not.

Michael:             It's gravity. Most of the people we talk to go, "That makes perfect sense." So here's what I need you to do. I need you to start identifying it more quickly. I need you to be able to clarify and see it, give clarity and going, "Well, this is volatility." Notice how this has changed. Why the price of steel has just gone up and it's down and it jerks around. And I'm just like, "When's it going to stop? When's the price of shipping going to stop? When's the price of fuel going to stop? Is there going to be economy coming on?" Talk about ambiguity. We don't know if we've got a major, massive economic crash happening like the Great Recession, or this is going to be just a small little bump, and yes, there's things going on and stop freaking out.

Michael:             I mean, there are so many people that are old enough to remember mortgage rates over 10% that they're like, "This is still cheap money." And when you're saying, "6% on a house is exorbitant, how could I ever afford a house?" Well, your parents did and your grandparents did. Obviously, there's some shifts there. But these are things I want you to look, start looking today and see how many times you can identify something that fits into that VUCA in your daily prod of the media or at work or anything else.

Kathryn:             Yeah. And remember, as we're kind of bringing this in for our landing, we're talking about self-care and building resilience and embracing the fact that VUCA is real and being willing to engage that with your team. What you do when you do that is you actually make yourself and your people less vulnerable. And it allows you to empower them to deal with uncontrollable things in situations, right? So you are actually building resilience by just acknowledging this is a real thing and we can create strategies. We can combat volatility with vision. We can combat uncertainty with understanding. We can react to complexity with clarity and we can fight ambiguity with agility. There are ways to move forward. But owning it and articulating it and codifying it for your people and yourself will help you to position your organization to be a little less vulnerable to it. And it's not going away. It's just not. So embracing it and really defining it I think is extraordinarily important for you in this day and age in leading your company.

Michael:             And that brings us to the end of today's podcast in this series on leadership self care and understanding last week's stress, this week, VUCA. The more you can identify it as Kathryn said, the more prepared you can be and the more you can be proactive, and that's really being able to do something is super helpful.

Michael:             We want to thank you again for joining us today. And please, wherever you listen to us, hit that like button, hit that subscribe and tell somebody about the podcast because we are trying to continue to make sure that we can help leaders grow in some really profound ways and help support you and equip you in ways that just allow you to build a stronger company that is more fulfilling and less stressful, help you avoid burnout. And in today's world, that's a tall order.

Kathryn:             Well, if you have questions, we would love to hear your questions. We'd love to answer questions and create content that's going to be helpful for you. So let us know what your questions are. We'd love your feedback.

Michael:             And I'm Michael Redman.

Kathryn:             And I'm Kathryn Redman.

Michael:             This is the HaBO Village Podcast. Have a great week. Bye-bye.

Kathryn:             Bye-bye.