Good Leaders Embrace Chaos

This article (found via Capitalist Brief) makes some excellent points about leadership. I really like the "company as an organism" analogy, because I think evolutionary thinking can be applied in a positive way to business.

Anxiety engulfs many in leadership positions. To others they display a calm and confident persona. Inside they feel lost, scared, confused, and panicked in response to obscure dangers. Destined for disappointment, they impose mindless and repeated reorganizations, change programs, and superficial fixes upon the exhausted and cynical people they try to lead. They attempt to reduce their anxiety by reducing their awareness. They work futilely to avoid pain, gain control, and find security not understanding that much of leadership today is counter to their mental models. As the new economy sorts out the winners and the losers, their sense of foreboding only increases.

Much of their anxiety comes from their refusal to see the world as it is and themselves as they are. They cannot elude the chaos of life: it is the context of leadership today and as far into the future as anyone can foresee. Humans are conditioned for order, control, and predictability and this blinds many from the truth: chaos is healthy, chaos is creativity, chaos is opportunity, chaos is life reordering itself.

Then there is this conclusion, which I feel accurately describes a good business leader.

Mature leaders do not attempt to run and hide from themselves or frantically conceal symptoms of systemic problems with cosmetic solutions. They face their anxiety with courage and honesty and transform the dangers they sense to opportunities. They confront squarely the genuine problems enterprises face today: incongruent thought processes, problems of vision and values, the management of change, issues of mediocrity and organizational capacity, questions of sustainability, the truth of leadership capability, and matters of responsibility and accountability.

Like I have said before, real business leaders aren't afraid of competition. They don't want to win by using manipulative accounting, price collusion, or violating the law. Good leaders embrace challenge and embrace change. They thrive on that. Who wants to go into business as a career if it is boring and unchallenging?

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This reminds me of a great Fast Company article from a few years ago, about managing on the edge of chaos. It's good stuff, and I think an increasingly competitive future for most industries will make it all the more relevant.