VUCA, as defined by Hughes, Beatty, and Dinwoodie (2014), refers to the “volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous” (p. 2) circumstances experienced by people on a personal and professional level. To address the challenges caused by a VUCA world, being and acting strategically becomes imperative. Strategic Leadership (SL) allows for the formation of the direction, alignment, and commitment (DAC) necessary to achieve long-lasting results (Hughes, et al., 2014). Before achieving DAC, people need to understand themselves and the circumstances surrounding them, as well as the way that they react to events because “Strategy Leadership is a learning Process” (Hughes, et al., 2014. p. 21).
Emmanuel as a Strategic Leader
In the past few months, I experienced some unforeseen circumstances, including a mental breakdown, an unexpected home birth, and a career pause. Surprisingly, I dealt with them with equanimity which is remarkable calmness in the face of great adversity (Watson, 1998).
My reactions to stress depend on the circumstances I am in. For instance, I try to incorporate my interests, which include music, reflective writing, time alone, and conversation with small groups, to deal with stress. I examined my needs (organized approach, concentration on tasks, trusted environment, consistency), along with recognizing and appreciating the factors leading to stress for me. When those needs remain unsatisfied, I tend to become resistant to change and avoidant. For example, I would over question a factual answer to create an atmosphere of conversation.
On a professional level, critical thinking serves as a response to stressful situations. For instance, a staff who always comes into work in the morning with complaints should be invited to share his or her story to assess the outside factors affecting or triggering the behaviours (Hughes, et al., 2014). The person’s professional and personal assumptions may be challenged through the use of creative assignments. If necessary, I would suggest support from external resources such as counseling or coaching. Personally, I opted for this method to avoid carrying the burdens caused by other people, so I can remain engaged with my work.
Strengthening My Response
To change or strengthen my responses to stress, both personally and professionally, I require structure, time to make complex decisions, the opportunity to consult with trusted friends; the opportunity to attend musical performances, a chance to perform creative thinking, and the opportunity to write. If needed, I may require access to therapy, and/or coaching as well.
Strengths & Weaknesses
To bring about the aforementioned suggestions in my personal and professional realms, I can count on my creative spirit, along with my physical, intellectual, and relational abilities, and my global outlook on situations, as well as my multilinguistic capabilities. The weaknesses that surface when I am under stress include a decline in my organizational skills, a desire to always reach a consensus, and hypersensitivity to other people’s opinions.
Personal Mission, Vision, and Values
Hughes et al. (2014) asserted that “strategy is maximized” (p. 25) when it includes aspiration. The “aspirational dimensions” (p. 25) constitute a checkpoint where people and organizations can find their identities.
Therefore, my mission is to allow myself and others to uncover our full potential.
My vision is to become an agent for good governance from the highest office in the Republic of Cameroon.
The following are the values I cherish: justice, fairness, compassion, integrity, and collaboration.
I developed the above mission and vision for several reasons:
Personally, the vision and the mission motivate me. I find satisfaction in public service and the development of people. I always had a desire to work to reach my full potential, and to motivate others to achieve theirs.
Professionally, I wish to work on governance issues in the Cameroonian context.
Collectively, I believe in the interconnectedness of human potential. It means I cannot reach my full potential if my neighbors have not reached theirs.
Strategic Drivers to Achieve My Full Potential
To achieve my full potential, it is crucial to leave the comfort of Canada. At this point in my life, North America represents a safety net. I achieved the goals I set 14 years ago, and I am experiencing the benefits of achieving those goals. However, the vision and the mission stated above called for a change of environment. In addition, I must abandon my ambition of a career in the Volleyball Community.
I excel in being bilingual, having a global outlook on life, a developing a new philosophy of leadership, creating opportunities, and understanding the factors required for good governance.
A culture finds its source through the beliefs of individuals and organizations, both in the way they think and act. (Hughes et al., 2014). Consequently, Ungerer, Ungerer, and Herholdt (2016) asserted that “virtuous leadership is described as a focus on the highest potentiality of the human systems that is oriented toward being and doing good” (p. 42)
I intend to promote a learning atmosphere in the Cameroonian context, which fosters personal and environmental growth, and a culture of excellence, which celebrates differences and provides a space committed to fairness, justice, compassion, integrity, and collaboration.
The elements of the culture I intend to support offer a venue for human potential to flourish; they respond to the context of their implementation, and they are closely related to the factors of good governance.
Moreover, they found their source in my values listed which are determinant for strategic leadership (Hughes, et al., 2014; Ungerer et al., 2016). Although the above culture takes place in a specific context calling for future actions, its relevance for the present calls for an abandonment of life in the Canadian context, and a focus on the key drivers that are listed.
Old Economy and New Economy
Old economy thinking depicts past successes, and contrasts with the present reality (Ungerer, et al., 2016). My experience reveals some old economy thinking. First, in the area of communication, I resent social media because of my preference for face-to-face interaction. Second, I often surprise myself by arguing in favor of past successful methods of teaching. For example, in volleyball, I tended to favor old approaches to teaching because the new approaches remain new to me. Fourth, I often hesitate to decline opportunities only because they do not originate from the Western world. Finally, from a relational standpoint, I rely on collaboration, even if the context calls for direction, because I believe people should get along.
The shift to a new economy thinking requires a commitment to a new thinking paradigm, where the focus is not on the concerns of leaders regarding the present and the future, but on the expectations of the present and the future to the leader (Ungerer et al., 2016). Therefore, I will ask the question, “What types of communication, teaching methods, worldviews, leadership styles, will the present and the future require of me?” (Ungerer et al., 2016).
There are four main practices contributing to the adoption of a new economy thinking. First, a commitment to evidence-based decision-making drawn from research. Second, an openness to learning from everyone (for instance, learning the drum from a person from Ghana, or choosing a class taught by someone from Malaysia). Third, a commitment to critical and creative thinking, (peer reviewing colleagues’ work, and providing constructive feedback). Finally, keeping a positive outlook on the present and future.
Business strategy: It will be necessary for me to take the time to develop “a pattern of choices . . . to position myself for superior performance overtimes” (Hughes, et al., 2014, p. 31). These patterns include the drivers listed in section three. The prioritization of these drivers is crucial to remaining attentive to the demands of the present and the future. In addition, the adoption and implementation of new economy thinking remains crucial. For instance, the fact I am learning strategic leadership is already a part of my business strategy, which addresses a certain element of my drivers and new economy thinking.
Leadership strategy: It will be important to create a leadership culture “set of belief and practices” (Hughes et al., 2014, p. 32) governing processes and actions. For example, my desire to grow in bilingualism speaks of my commitment to a learning environment fostering growth. The strategy also entails the presence of others to nurture the desired culture.
Execute, perform, learn: Strategy without action is decorative. Therefore, it is beneficial to create a process where the strategy is put into action, its performance assessed, and its structure adapted to allow for changes in the course of action taken as a result of the assessment.
Having the contribution of others in shaping the present and future for us in mind, I will need to grow in my ability to Direct, Align and Commit (Hughes et al., 2014) people to the strategies I develop.
Strategic strengths: Hughes, et al. (2014) insisted “strategy is a learning process” (p. 21), believing “leaders must mine their trial for new information and knowledge that might, in fact, negate their strongly held opinions, and they must use this new information to guide the decisions and actions they take.” (p. 21). The present assessment helped me to discover the following strategic strengths that I possess:
I became purposeful and idea-driven. I regained a sense of optimism about the future. I described a clear vision, and identified several drivers.
The above strengths will serve as a moral compass shaping the course of action I take, the conversations I pursue, and the decisions I make. An example of a concrete application of this concept will be to assess if my conversation with people including my family every night reflecting a new economy thinking.
Hughes, R., Beatty, K., & Dinwoodie, D. (2014). Becoming a strategic leader: Your role in your organization’s enduring success. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Ungerer, M., Ungerer, G., & Herholdt, J. (2016). Navigating strategic possibilities. Randburg: KR Publishing.
Watson, L. (1988). Light from many lamps. New York: Simon & Schuster.