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Chaos is a Choice

If we’ve learned anything from the last few years, it’s that disruption and change will happen, whether we like it or not. But the question for leaders is: Are you and your team prepared to respond to whatever might be around the bend?

As a history buff, I frequently look to the past for examples. Throughout the decades, businesses have struggled in tumultuous landscapes that included inflation, recession, new regulations, technology shifts, supply chain disruptions, labor shortages, natural disasters, and of course the pandemic.

Change is constant. Unfortunately we’ve seen that disruption often leads to a loss of control. It’s important to recognize, however, that responding with chaos is a choice.

While there is no silver bullet, the ability to react to changing situations with consistency and discipline enables us to dampen the effects of disruption.



As I work with executives and leaders around the world, it’s apparent that few have time to respond to what’s coming at that them on a daily basis, let alone focus on a longer-term picture.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can become more present and intentional while accomplishing more– without sacrificing quality over quantity.

What do I mean by this? Let’s start with what I don’t mean. I’m not talking about “kumbaya” thinking. (Although I do believe attitude and personal energy matters.) I’m talking about practical things you can do to create a culture where you and your team members move away from the “heads down, let’s get more work done” mentality to a culture where your team is engaged and empowered while accomplishing the work.

During my career I’ve seen leaders and teams of varying cultures, styles, successes, and failures.  As I’ve observed trends across companies, sectors, and leaders, one thing has really struck me.  The organizations that see disruption as an opportunity, that adapt and evolve quickly with discipline, are the most effective.


Three Steps for Leaders to Create Discipline

1. Cadence is key. As a leader, what structures are you putting in place to create a sense of discipline, which will build stability? Establishing how frequently you need to touch base with your team is a great place to establish team cadence. This will assist you and your team in understanding when to surface potential disruptions or opportunities.

2. White space matters. The challenge for so many leaders is that they feel overwhelmed—barely keeping their head above the water with their workload—and that time to build discipline within their team is just another log on that workload fire. I see more leaders burning out today than ever before. To not just survive this current state, but to thrive in it, leaders need to take care of themselves. One simple step towards this is to schedule white space one hour a week for yourself to ponder and reflect—no agenda, no people.

3. Call in a coach. Like we do with fitness or health, leaders must establish regimens to enhance their thinking, skills, and perspectives. Because disruption requires adaptation and agility, create a support network of internal and external people that not only improve your growth but also your joy. Coaching focuses on your competencies—from communication to holding people accountable—improving how you perform.  Advisement provides an outside perspective to challenge your ideas or take your organization in a new direction, such as scale, digital transformation, and succession.


While we don’t know what this year holds, we do know we have the opportunity to choose discipline over chaos, leverage disruption, and create a more successful and sustainable future.



Do you need help working through leadership challenges to transform disruption into opportunity? Contact us to learn about Bill’s leadership keynote speakingexecutive coaching, and facilitation services.