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8 Mental Models for Wise Leadership in a VUCA World

Wise leaders build agile, inclusive and sustainable businesses. But how can you do that in times of crisis? Here are 8 mental models for building inner resilience to take responsible and sustainable actions in VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) situations.

When it comes to situations such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate emergency, the fight for racial equity and justice, and other societal challenges at a global scale, we don’t need leaders who only rely on their survival instincts or find opportunistic ways to leverage a crisis.

We need leaders who consciously use their intuition, logic and emotions to choose appropriate emergency responses. We need wise leaders.

Why? Because wise CEOs create the best results in both the short and long term, for the benefit of both society and the bottom line.

That’s the conclusion of a survey of 100 CEO emergency responses over the past 30 years, conducted by Navi Radjou and Prasad Kaipa — co-authors of From Smart to Wise: Acting and Leading With Wisdom.

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We need leaders who not only rely on their survival instincts or find opportunistic ways to leverage a crisis. We need leaders who consciously use their intuition, logic and emotions to choose appropriate business responses that also benefit society at large. We need wise leaders.

8 mental models for wise leadership

In their article, “Leading with your head and your heart,” Radjou and Kaipa show how wise CEOs such as Unilever’s Paul Polman and companies such as Siemens and Danone are transforming their businesses into wise enterprises.

But what can a wise leader concretely do on a personal level to build the inner resilience necessary for taking responsible and sustainable actions in challenging times?

We've teamed up with leadership transformation expert Sandja Brügmann, founder of The Passion Institute, to co-create an infographic based on her eight mental models for wise leadership.

“For a while now, in CEO circles, we've talked about the world being VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous); and COVID-19 is showing us how interconnected and interdependent we all are,” explains Brügmann, who helps organizations embed sustainability, wisdom and purpose into the core of their business strategy and leadership skills. “So, we need leaders to navigate these uncertainties wisely if we want a safer and more thriving world for us all.”

Download a full-size edition of the infographic here.

We hope that this infographic will not only inform and inspire CEOs, but also serve as a reminder for all of us on how to take personal leadership and deal with the more “daily VUCA” situations.

If you are interested in integrating and leading through these principles, join The Passion Institute’s Wisdom Leadership Network, facilitated by Brügmann herself.

The infographic is part of the Corporate Corona Actions series, where The Social Business Company and key collaborators share tips and cases of show how businesses can contribute positively here and now — but also to build back better post-Corona.


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