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Team management in times of change
On October 25, as part of the ESADE Alumni refresher programme, a master class was given by Joan Plans, academic assistant in ESADE’s department of personnel management and organization, entitled “People and team management in a VUCA world.
Joan Plans gave a very enjoyable and useful talk about the leadership of people and teams in times of great change, such as the VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world in which we live. After giving an overview of how leadership has evolved in the last one hundred years with plenty of entertaining examples, Plans considered the new norms of life today and suggested ways of managing people.
Vision versus volatility
The volatility we experience can be offset by a shared vision and sense of purpose. It is important to look ahead to see what is coming. As Joan Plans said, “the VUCA leader must be able to see the horizon with enthusiasm and excellent communication and get people involved in that future.
The secret is the ability to communicate, align and create teams by having a convincing story, a story that is powerful, emotional, surprising and fun; the ability to convince and convey this message elegantly and with great impact; and the ability to encourage the team by creating trust, “because without a team you are nobody. If you have no team, don’t bother, said Plans.
One of his examples was Shackleton’s expedition to Antarctica in 1914. To keep his team’s morale up when they were trapped by ice, Shackleton organized football matches, talked to them and much more. Shackleton is regarded as an exemplary leader.
Understanding in the face of uncertainty
The uncertainty that surrounds this changing world can be offset by curiosity and an ability to question the status quo, show empathy for others and have an open mind willing to explore.
The methods that enable us to boost curiosity and empathy start by identifying the challenge of adapting to and questioning the processes, questioning the world in which we live, how things are done and why. And empathy plays the leading role. It has been demonstrated that empathic teams are better. “It is important to look into people’s eyes, emphasised Joan Plans.
“The role of the VUCA leader is to be a buffer of anxiety, he said. Everyone sees things their own way and to align the team, people must understand the need for change but not be overwhelmed by it.
Clarity versus complexity
How can we combat the complexity of the world around us? By simplifying the superfluous, relying on intuition and remaining focused on what needs to be done.
Joan Plans considers that, “It’s essential to keep things simple because simplicity wins the day. Simplicity is fantastic but we often make things complicated. And, like empathy, intuition is a key factor in the fight against complexity. Our intuition often lets us make good decisions, so it must be trusted.
Agility versus ambiguity
Innovate or die. Plans repeated the following several times his master class, “Anyone who stops improving, stops being good. In a VUCA world you must never stop improving. To combat ambiguity, we must foster cooperation among team members and be flexible when making decisions in changing environments. And when we make a decision, we must take into account the three R’s: risk, rejection and responsibility.
It is important to empower the team to act. People must be allowed to get together to do things and to feel strong and important. Plans suggested two ways of doing this: give the work back to the employees and let them say what they need; and protect critical people. “This is one of the hardest things. Companies tend to silence critical people. People who point out internal contradictions are pushed aside. But, in turbulent times, a VUCA leader must protect such people because they are the ones who say what works and what doesn’t, said Plans.
ESADE Alumni invites you to this talk in the Refresher Programme series entitled 'How to be a leader of people and teams in a VUCA world' by Joan Plans, academic collaborator in ESADE’s department of people management and organization.
I recently heard a manager complaining. 'We live in a world where survival is harder than success used to be in the past'. The new benchmark of today’s world is that almost nothing is predictable, almost nothing is what it seems and things are changing faster than ever. Against this backdrop, it is more necessary than ever to know how to lead teams that can ensure we survive and possibly succeed.
This master class will equip participants with useful tools for being leaders in a changing world and techniques for making employees aware of reality and helping them surf the wave of change. Joan Plans
Joan Plans is an academic collaborator in ESADE’s department of people management and organization. Trainer, writer and speaker. He has a degree in psychology (University of Barcelona) and has taken further training in his field of interest, in addition to the IESE management development programme. His areas of interest are management skills, persuasive presentations, bargaining, people management and creativity. He founded and has been a partner-director of the training and recruitment consultancy Directa, CDO, SL for 18 years. He is a board member of the Hispano-Finnish company Lappset Vr, SL. In the last twenty years, he has trained managers in Spanish and multinational businesses in many industries. He is a contributing professor at INAP, IAAP and IVAP. He has written the books Las 27 virtudes del código secreto… (2010) and 27 respuestas para… (2012), published by Editorial Urano (Empresa Activa collection). The article he co-authored with Sergi Carol Consiguiendo elefantes surfistas o las seis principales ineficiencias de las grandes empresas was published recently in HDBR. Speaker on an individual basis and as a member of SpeakTacular. See you there!
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