Leadership Development in Times of Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity

In today’s world, change is greater, the future is less predictable, and information sharing is increasing exponentially from ever before. The term VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity) was coined by the United States military in the 1990s to describe the ever more convoluted and complex geo-political landscape.[1] Many corporations now use it to describe their business landscape as well.

Responding to the need to develop leaders who can lead through VUCA, the VMware Foundation created a unique leadership development program called Good Gigs, a three-month, immersive Service Learning program. Good Gigs fosters learning by bringing together a global team to use their professional skills in a new working environment with limited resources.

From October through December 2016, a team of VMware people participated in a Good Gigs Trek with LEAP Science and Maths School in South Africa, spending two weeks of that time immersed in a township called Langa. The goal of the Trek was two-fold: implement an IT solution for LEAP, and advance the quality of education. Through the experience, VMware people honed the following leadership skills that are important for navigating VUCA. [2][3]


Broadening perspectives – Good Gigs brings together a global team of VMware people from different locations and cultures to work with the local nonprofit staff and teachers. With a common goal, the group leverages each other’s diverse perspectives in order to identify innovative solutions to the challenges the nonprofit faces.

Stretching the flexibility muscle – Good Gigs teams learn how to navigate ambiguities in a vastly different and ever-changing backdrop that is often outside of one’s comfort zone.

Showing courage – “Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.” [4] Participants are invited to share their observations and insights from each day in order to be radically authentic leaders.

To learn more about how each Good Gigs South Africa Trekker navigated VUCA, look for the upcoming “Leadership Insights” Series on VMware Careers Facebook page.

Upcoming Good Gigs in the United States

Building upon VMware’s culture of innovation, this summer a Good Gigs team will bring their talents to assist a rural school district in Utah bridge the digital divide in the United States.


[1] Stiehm, Judith Hicks and Nicholas W. Townsend (2002). The U.S. Army War College: Military Education in a Democracy. Temple University Press. p. 6. ISBN 1-56639-960-2.

[2] “Leadership Challenges in the V.U.C.A World.” Oxford Leadership. N.p., 20 Feb. 2017. Web. 13 Apr. 2017.

[3] Knowledge, HBS Working. “VUCA 2.0: A Strategy For Steady Leadership In An Unsteady World.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 17 Feb. 2017. Web. 13 Apr. 2017.

[4] Brene Brown TED Talk, The Power of Vulnerability. https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability

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