In times of crisis, things can go from “business as usual” to “business unusual” in the blink of an eye. Leaders are required to operate in a constant state of triage to keep things going. On top of that, we need to catalog — in almost real time — the lessons, processes, and experiences that will help us handle the next crisis when it comes along.
When you’re going through times of chaos and complexity, it’s important to find a balance between leading and learning. Chaos and complexity also call on different leadership strategies, according to David B. Peterson, director of executive coaching and development at The Google School for Leaders.
While both are unpredictable, complexity is an extension of the world in which we already live. It calls on you to plan for what comes next and to react thoughtfully, now and for the long run. Chaos, on the other hand, requires swift, decisive action to keep everyone focused and on the same page, while reducing anxiety.
Approach times of crisis as an opportunity to remember what matters most. Ask yourself: What is my company’s touchstone? How can I use that sense of purpose to lead my organization through periods that are chaotic and complex? And what can I learn from this experience as I guide my team to a new semblance of normal?