The acronym VUCA was introduced by Harvard Business Review in early 2014. It describes an environment of Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity. Covid-19 has made this a recognized concept around the globe and an essential consideration in the recruiting process.

People who thrive in this atmosphere have strengths that differ from successful leaders in “the old normal.” Identifying and measuring these characteristics as part of the hiring process significantly increases the candidate’s probability of success.  There are three key characteristics successful leaders must have today and in the future.


Able to understand the situation and choose the appropriate steps to take. Able to accommodate whatever new comes up. Accepting new information and easily changing course, being sensitive to the current situation while embracing the potential.


Curious and inquisitive, wanting to learn, challenging the status-quo, delivering new approaches, products and solutions. Creative, looking beyond the obvious to see opportunities and potential. Enjoying change and trying new things.


Considering people. Understanding another’s point of view and the thinking behind it. Effectively dealing with a variety of people. Communicating effectively and collaborating by working across functional, geographical and cultural areas.

People with these essential leadership characteristics are successful in an environment of change, where speed and service is at the forefront. There are other important characteristics that indicate how an individual gets things done, which also impacts how well they will fit into the organization, but these three are the foundation for success in today’s environment.

Recruiting for a leadership role without knowing if the candidates have these characteristics makes the entire process unpredictable. It is possible that the “right” person will be selected, but that may depend on good fortune, not process. Key hires, as well as important promotions, should not hinge on chance.

There are assessments available that will identify and measure these characteristics, and programs that can help individuals strengthen these, if they are lacking. Taking advantage of these tools leads to a more robust recruiting process, and a higher probability of long-term success. The stakes are high. Why risk the potential for failure when you can use tools to support your decision? Understanding candidates better is even more important when much of the recruiting process is virtual.

These tools are an integral part of our recruiting process: we have been using them for years to help our clients reduce their hiring risk. They are also available to organizations who want a more robust evaluation of candidates as they do their own recruiting. We work with these organizations to define what is most important in the role, and then provide insight into their candidates. Should we talk about how we can help you ensure the best hiring decisions in these challenging times?