Two days on leadership, VUCA, personal development, work-life balance

Donning a blue cape to walk along a fictional catwalk and saying who you are is not quite the behaviour one would expect of managers. This scene took place among the participants of a special SYNNECTA event format: a »LeadershipJourney«.

The »LeadershipJourney« is a special, tailored SYNNECTA format. In July 2014, we took sixteen managers from a large German organization along with us on a two-day journey. The stations of the journey were as unusual and unexpected as the everyday life of leadership is in a global business world. The journey was our opportunity to experience the challenges of our own life in management from a completely new point of view. We focussed on perceiving the external and internal landscapes that managers take action within. The managers asked elementary questions

  • Which global conditions do I face in my daily work?
  • How do I approach them and how do I feel about that?
  • How do I solve crises? Who or what gives me strength?
  • What does that mean to me as a role model in my organization?

The apparent dividing line between the worlds of work and life became increasingly blurred in the course of the journey, realigning the axes of inside (my life) and outside (my work) into centres of one’s own life before long. These centres impact each other; they cannot be lived apart.

The journey first brought us to Ehreshoven in Germany’s Bergisches Land region, where we were housed in the Order of Malta Conference Centre Malteser Kommende and addressed several topics: the world of VUCA, the Order of Malta’s millennium-long history and their approach to uncertainty, our own management style and self-leadership.

VUCA describes the conditions and challenges of the present-day world: Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity. VUCA develops within global and external conditions that lie beyond an individual’s sphere of influence. However, we as persons can shape our own environment in which VUCA reveals itself. We can make VUCA »endurable«, we can reap the benefits. In the end, we arrived at the key recognition of the fact that we are not called upon to fight the world of VUCA; instead, the managers found ways of using its energy. We had found a conciliatory outlook into turbulent times.

The museum of ethnology Rautenstrauch Joest Museum in Cologne allowed us to discover the variegated cultural phenomena of the world. Together with all participants, we addressed amongst others the question how other cultures deal with VUCA. We were given valuable input by Dr. Clara Himmelheber, an ethnologist and researcher at the museum, who was spirited and inspiring as she led us through the museum and shared with us her perspectives on journeys, self-reflection, encountering situations of uncertainty.

With self-reflective exercises and dialogues, we all searched for answers to questions on origins, culture and attained perspectives on self-leadership and our personal work-life balance.

  • How does it feel to come home to yourself?
  • To divulge something of yourself that may have been hidden until now?
  • How do these »soft« insights about yourself fit into a daily life in which you have to take hard decisions?

For the participants as well as for us SYNNECTA consultants, events like these are TimeOuts. They are valuable and deeply enriching experiences. Together with the group, we achieved exciting insights and outlooks. Exploring new places, encountering new perspectives, accepting strange and new ideas: these experiences created memorable insights about ourselves and others.

The LeadershipJourney brought us to places where we confronted ourselves, locations of intense experiences and complex learning. Their significance will continue to achieve new dimensions in the courses of our daily lives and reveal itself in our concrete dealings with each other. Those who return from a journey have had that experience: many impressions only attain their significance in our everyday life, they develop their effect after we have returned home. The participants take home their LeadershipJourney experiences and translate them into their own spheres of action, where they can be applied. Consciousness of their own selves, openness for new things, positioning and vision in situations of change: these are all good characteristics and expedient conditions to work together in a relaxed and constructive way.

Hanna Göhler