In many arenas now, the change and chaos never seem to stop. At times, they come at you rapid-fire. The challenge is that you cannot control what is happening. However, you can control yourself and your response to it all. In work and other areas of life, what do you do when it keeps on coming?
To start, you can pull yourself out of the fray for a while. You can discriminate on your sources of information. You can be aware of when things get to be too much and take appropriate action. You can find a context for it all, so it does not seem inexplicable. You can take action, if you want to be part of a solution. When it keeps on coming, take care of yourself. Find a way to stay standing, until it passes.
You do not work in an isolated bubble, do you? The world that surrounds you has influence and impact on your workplace. Currently, there is a lot of change, uncertainty and even chaos in the outside world. How is this affecting your workplace and you?
There is value in putting some focus on this. What’s going on in the outside world is being felt by nearly everyone. In the workplace, this can impact productivity, balance, emotions and interrelationships. Take some time to assess how your workplace is responding and reacting to the outside world right now. Address what you see and find ways to keep your team together and thriving through it all.
How do you keep yourself organized? Everyone finds their own way. Our ways are on a continuum between order and chaos. What matters is to find the way that works best for you. Are you more productive in an ordered or chaotic state?
Some find that chaos stimulates their creativity. Others find that order allows them to keep their center. There are downsides of both order and chaos. They can each be used to avoid action and keep you unproductive. For example, a near constant state of chaos can keep you from getting anything meaningful done. Too much focus on order can keep you from getting into action. What are the downsides of each for you?
If you think of nature as a system, both chaos and order exist within it, each serving a purpose. Order keeps an ecosystem together. Chaos introduces change and growth. How does your ecosystem work best for staying organized? What’s your best balance between chaos and order?
Seth Godin posits in his book Tribes that managers are not leaders. He says managers manage by using the authority the factory has given them; that leaders don’t care much about organization and authority, they use passion and ideas to lead people. Later, Godin provides an example of a researcher at the Pentagon who acted as a leader and changed the way generals think about the military. If this can be done at the bottom, it can be done in the middle.
Managers must lead. They cannot let the organization constrain them. They must know the environment they manage in and figure out how they can make change effectively. It takes a lot to know the game and not get wedged in by it. Managers must transcend their organization and lead creatively.
If you are a manager caught in the chaos of an organization, step back.
Think strategically about how the change you want can happen. Consider the hinges that keep the organization together and which ones can be moved. Who are the movers in your organization? How do they make change? What is the language of change in your organization — profit? savings? bottom line? competitive edge? How does the change you want to see get communicated in that language? What is within your control and what is not? Do you have allies? Can you create a tribe to lead the change? Is there a tribe working against you?
Know your boundaries. Is the change you seek essential to your work? Will harm be done if it is not made? Can you live without it? How far are you willing to go in seeking it?
Act. Without leading, you atrophy. Leading requires agile, savvy steps. Keep your focus on people and results. Change the organization you are managing in by leading.