Dr. Jim Browning is a recognized leadership authority. Served as Director of the Navy’s Command Excellence and Leader Development Division, responsible for all officer and enlisted leadership development policies and programs worldwide; Director of safety, health and security for five manufacturing plants for Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corporation; President and CEO of a leadership and management training and consulting firm; Created the Library of Congress Corporate University and served as its Chief; Professor of Behavioral Science and faculty at the prestigious Eisenhower School in Washington, DC and selected as Chairman of the Department of Strategic Leadership. Participated in more than 300 executive coaching sessions, authored the 585-page seminal textbook, Leading at the Strategic Level (2013), and currently keynote speaker and faculty consultant to the Air War College.
Many articles and books use the acronym VUCA to describe the strategic environment senior organizational leaders face both today and for the foreseeable future. But what does it really mean? VUCA as an acronym was originally coined in the early 1990s by the U.S. Army War College to represent the environmental profile faced by senior leaders. Specifically, Volatility refers to the increasing pace of change in conditions, situations, information, networking, technology, and so on. Uncertainty describes doubt about the present situation, courses of action, and future decision outcomes. Complexity refers to the multiplicity of factors associated with a decision. Ambiguity describes the lack of clarity and meaning in an event. For more information regarding these four terms, download the full report including tables.
Organizational effectiveness and success does not depend on the ability of a “heroic” leader. As a senior leader, your behaviors and decisions do significantly influence an organization’s relevance and outcomes (positively or negatively). However, you cannot do it by yourself. Your success requires building and sustaining an organizational climate and culture that empowers formal and informal leaders to act collaboratively to advance organizational strategic goals .
The leadership theories and practices highlight important roles and characteristics of the senior leader—and the need for you as the senior leader to engage and empower “the collective capabilities of people acting together and across boundaries to implement strategies, solve problems, respond to threats, adapt to change, and support innovation.”
Studies in Stratified Systems Theory (SST) demonstrate that executives develop with—adapt and adjust to—the changing performance requirements at each organizational level. Included in the maturation process is growth in moral and ethical thinking and practice, as well as the development of wisdom.
The comprehensiveness, depth, and quality of your personal dimensions—and how well you integrate and apply them—will go a long way toward determining your personal and organizational success at any organizational level, but especially at the senior level.
The most popular distinction between leadership and management, as
referred to by Mintzberg, is the statement: “Managers are people who do things right and leaders are people who do the right thing.” When I was Director of the Navy’s worldwide Command Excellence and Leader Development in the early 1990s, I added an additional “right” to the
leadership statement: “Leaders are people who do the right thing at the right time.” Whenever and wherever leadership and management are practiced, the timing of a specific action or decision can be critical to either success or failure based on the situation and the context at the moment.
With Covid-19 massively disrupting business, government, and nonprofit organizations, one industry fighting for legitimacy, relevance, and survival is today’s college and university on- campus programs. Those businesses that provide leader development short programs may be in jeopardy as well.
As a professor of behavioral science, a former faculty and chairman of the Department of Strategic Leadership at the prestigious Eisenhower School, I posit what the impact could be for traditional business schools’ MBA and Executive MBA (EMBA) programs, as well as short leadership courses. As such, I share some thoughts and ideas to stimulate your thinking and reflection.
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