Emerging Leadership Roles and Challenges
The paradox of leadership is well-manifested in the controversial relationship between VUCA and SCARF. VUCA stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity. SCARF stands for Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness, Fairness. In our complex and unpredictable world, we find a widening gap between humans’ aspiration for certainty in a world of tendency to move towards more uncertainty. People thrive for autonomy when the pressure for achieving results tends to make managers apply more control to abide by rules and regulations. The demands of SCARF are not in synchronicity with VUCA and thus imposing great challenges on leaders and the need for emerging leadership styles are surfacing out.
The conflicting demands between VUCA and SCARF and be more highlighted when we see the trend towards more complexity. In complex systems the prediction of the future is a remote dream. Employees are uncertain about the future at the same time they work best if they are certain of the results of what they work on. So, is relatedness. When I did my PhD in chemistry I researched on the application of the then newly-introduced nuclear magnetic spectroscopy NMR) to study the mechanism of chemical reactions. The name changed to MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) because the word nuclear scares people off. The application of MRI on human brains has opened doors to the discovery of new facts that elaborate on our understanding of the science of leadership.
David Rock is a prominent researcher of the brain. In a post he described the research carried out at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), on the effect of feeling rejected by others using MRI revealed the feelings of anger. The aroused feelings of anger deplete the decision- center of the brain from Oxygen and energy that are required to make wise decisions. Exclusion means no bonding with team members and the result is performance deterioration.
The brain motivation can easily conflict with the business goals. The brain is essentially social-oriented, and the business is financially oriented. Unless these two orientations are working with each other the business shall suffer and show poor financial results. The needs of the human brain are distinct and dictate that it should be socially comfortable to function effectively.
The team members shall not bond to each other unless their social brain is in a relaxed mood. If employees feel they are treated unfairly, losing direction, feel no relatedness to each other, their social status isn’t respected and what they do is unknown for them their performance shall decline.
It is the social mind of the team members that dictate performance levels of a team.
I don’t wish to stretch this post too far, but I say that natural systems achieve the requirement of SCARF and this explains their ability to grow to higher levels. The question of humans to bond to each other and form cohesive teams shall not be possible should any factor of the SCARF not be fulfilled. What makes people bond to each other and what kind of bonding they shall have? The answers to these questions are worth the effort. What makes thousand of fishes and birds, bees and ants to bond together, and do you follow by instinct the requirements of SCARF are other questions that are worthy to answer.
Let’s take fish as an example. They feel safer when swimming in schools, they bond to each other because they have the affinity to do so. They send alarms if threatened, no fish feels isolated, or receives an unfair treatment. Each fish knows its role in the group and the relatedness of this role to the fish school. Because fish abide by SCARF they may keep the ties that establish bonding them.
Look at tree branches and leaves. Trees are open to fairness. They guarantee that by branching at Fibonacci angle (137.5). Dividing this angle by 360 gives a ratio of 0.38. This way all branches and leaves have equal exposure to light and other needed resources. The branches relate to each other in self-similar clusters. The branches are related to each other and all adapt willingly to the unpredictable weather. For example, related trees shall not obscure light from similar trees. Because tree satisfy the SCARF requirements this may explain their longevity. Interestingly, Professor Adrian Bejan from Duke university found that golden ratio is the best to transfer information to the brain.
Likewise; water, carbon silicon form repeating tetrahedral bonding that allows them to grow in chains without sterically inhibiting each other. Self-similarity is evident in carbon and silicon polymers because they are closely related as they are based on the same element. Water forms hydrogen bonding of tetrahedral structure that leads to formation of a network of water molecules.
For humans to bond they must adhere to the requirements of SCARF. This is possible, and this shall be the topic of my next buzz. In this buzz I shall then refer to the glorious comment that Bill King wrote on my previous buzz. In his comment wrote “and the idea of social bonding being compared to chemical bonding was interesting. is there a parallel between different social and chemical bonds and when we form these bonds can it have a change in state”?
I dedicate this buzz to the flourishing mind of Clau Valerio