Leading in Times of Chaos

silhouette of people on hill

The quote “each man for himself” aptly illustrates the most common response to unforeseen moments of crisis.

This means that the default is for each of us to try and save our own skin rather than seeking to strengthen relationships and connections and committing to the search for alternative solutions.

I don’t mean to imply that you’ve necessarily behaved in this way, as we find ourselves almost two years into this pandemic scenario, full of uncertainties and ambiguities.

Nevertheless, I invite you to use the following points to evaluate your attitude in each of the groups you form a part of, particularly those in which you act as a leader:

  1. What is your level of engagement in relation to the search for solutions, in your family, workplace team, or group of friends?
  2. What have you done or what do you continue to do to cultivate the bonds within each of these groups?
  3. Do you engage in frequent, transparent communication with these groups?
  4. After the start of the pandemic, did you feel the need to simplify your routine, now that you could no longer bring someone in to clean your house, or help look after your kids?
  5. Did you manage to determine your priorities, and direct your energy appropriately, without getting distracted?
  6. Did you involve your teams, children or other family members and friends in defining alternative ways of living in these uncertain times?
  7. Have you contributed towards strengthening mutual trust within the groups you form part of?

These questions are important reflections that allow us to act as leaders, rather than letting ourselves be victimised or swallowed up by a whirlwind of uncertainties and fears. 

Leaders that stand out in situations of chaos are those who:

  • Simplify processes, clearly defining priorities,
  • Maintain frequent, clear communication with group members,
  • Are transparent with regards to possible outcomes, 
  • Engage themselves and others in the search for alternative solutions, 
  • Conduct dynamic and flexible planning, 
  • Encourage the whole team’s learning and development,
  • Establish links of trust and reinforce the importance of all group members looking out for one other.

Remember that a leader influences others via their actions as well as via example, and doesn’t wait until they’re in a position of authority before they do so. First, we lead ourselves, then, as a consequence of the boldness, persistence and resilience we demonstrate going after our own goals, we gain the clarity and strength of mind to guide others who choose to follow us.

So what will you do today to improve your own engagement, and that of the group you lead, in the search for alternative solutions to the upcoming challenges we face?