The LIVED® leadership solution

Published November 20, 2014

You might not have heard of the term, but the acronym VUCA is increasingly being used to describe the operating environment for businesses. It stands for volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity – and basically means that the world is going through incredible change at an ever increasing fast pace.

Business leaders are having to grapple with a world where VUCA is the new normal and accept the fact that this dramatic rate of change is here to stay. As a result, companies need to make sure they are equipped to cope with the challenges this presents.

This demands certain qualities and attributes in leaders, such as flexibility and agility in how they cope with these unanticipated circumstances. Essentially, what organisations need are leaders who are comfortable being uncomfortable and able to learn from their day-to-day experiences.

And this is where a&dc‘s LIVED™ leadership model comes in.

According to Nigel Povah, chairman, chief executive and founder of a&dc, leadership as a topic has been high on the agenda for organisations “for as long as you care to remember“. As a result, there have been many attempts to define the important qualities in an effective leader.

However, Mr Povah pointed out that for all the leadership models that have been devised, no single one stands out as the best. But when a&dc took a look at each one, it found many common elements and themes and developed the LIVED™ model.

The name is an acronym of the five dimensions we believe make a leader truly exceptional, so let’s look at each one.


According to Mr Povah, for leaders to be truly effective, they have to be able to adapt in the world that we are living in because of the variety of challenges that come their way.

You only have to look at the history of many organisations. They have periods when they’re doing fantastically well and all of a sudden they might plummet. You need leaders who are capable of handling the good times and the bad times and can learn from their experiences,” he commented.


A leader must be able to think incisively, deal effectively with complex and ambiguous information and be capable of seeing issues in a broader context. They can then take sound decisions based on this analysis.


Authentic leadership, with bosses displaying integrity and honesty, is becoming increasingly important to many organisations.

Mr Povah believes this is an issue because people need to know what their leaders stand for, which means those at the top have to behave in a “consistent and predictable manner“.


Pure intellect is not enough to succeed as a leader. They must also be able to relate to people well and keep their own emotions in check, so they can inspire and motivate their workforce, as well as third parties, clients and the wider world.


Leaders must show passion and determination, as well as possess a strong focus on achieving results in a decisive way.

The acronym LIVED™ tells a story in itself, because in essence you’ve got to draw upon the experiences you have had in the past,” Mr Povah commented.

It is an acknowledgement that while something may have worked in the past, there is no guarantee it will work in today’s VUCA world. Leaders must look back and reflect on their experiences and be able to adapt accordingly if circumstances demand it.

The LIVED™ model offers an end-to-end assessment and development solution to help businesses find people who can operate in this environment.

Organisations can use the LIVED™ model to identify future leaders and improve skills gaps among those who are already in senior roles, from managers to executives on the board, and make them better at what they do.

Harold S Geneen, the famous president of the ITT Corporation, once remarked that “leadership cannot really be taught – it can only be learned“. It’s a thought worth bearing in mind for anyone who wants to meet all the criteria the LIVED™ model lays out.

Our assessment process has a wide level of application, depending on where an organisation is at the moment, and can be a great way to assess individuals to see where they fit in with its culture.

It could be the key to ensuring a business is able to stay ahead of the curve in a VUCA world and can cope with whatever challenges come its way.

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