What is it about?

This paper explores the characteristics of VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) conditions and draws out some foundational considerations of what these imply for leadership. It discusses leader behaviours, attributes and values that are likely to be especially salient for leaders operating a VUCA context, as well as considering what purpose can usefully inform leadership in such an environment. The discussion pays heed to issues of both leader effectiveness and ethics in exploring ideas about how leaders can lead in such challenging contexts.

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Why is it important?

VUCA conditions are increasingly influential features of our contemporary world. This context poses particular challenges for leadership and established models - such as transformational leadership, authentic leadership, visionary leadership and charismatic leadership - were not designed with such conditions in mind. This can leave leaders searching for what will help them in grappling with the challenges that come with a VUCA context - a need which this paper seeks to address.


It is evident many leaders are struggling with our current context - and to some degree this is partly because follower expectations of leaders may themselves be unrealistic. This article should help leaders to reflect on the kind of leadership that is possible, and the kind of leadership they want to practice, in an environment where many things are, in fact, beyond their control, but where just being reactive isn't an acceptable alternative. This article aims to give leaders a broader perspective for thinking about what they can and can't do and what they should and should not do, given the challenges our operating context now entails

Suze Wilson
Massey University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Leadership in a VUCA context: Some foundational considerations, Journal of Applied Journalism & Media Studies, June 2023, Intellect,
DOI: 10.1386/ajms_00112_1.
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