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Leadership During Periods of Chaos and Change

Chaos Leadership


It’s 10 am. I haven’t showered in I don’t know how long, deliverables are due, my team waits for me to text back… I have tried and failed to order groceries, made breakfast, done dishes, partially homeschooled the kids, attempted to check email (until I was interrupted), took a client call from the bathroom (the only quiet place), and washed muddy puppy paw prints off the floor.

Total chaos. Sound familiar?

I’m also practicing Loving Kindness and self-forgiveness.

My new 2020 routine is to skip my shower, meditate when I can, or just focus on breathing through my bandana while disinfecting my groceries.

It’s all good. This change is allowed.

And it’s allowed to feel challenging.

It certainly has to me.

I allow it. I breathe, I freak out, I show up and support myself and my family and my clients.

Each of us is leading the world around us.

We’re leading our own homes, we’re leading ourselves. We’re leading teams.

Crisis, immense change, and uncertainty test leadership.

Any of us who are in positions of leadership have a responsibility, and that can be anything from your business to your family, have a responsibility to the greater community to be centered and grounded, to be clear-seeing, and to be regulated.

As a leader, your responsibility to keep your body and your nervous system regulated. That’s actually the fundamental basis of your leadership in times of crisis.

In VUCA – volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous- periods there are huge challenges ti leading and even just existing.

Our world is disrupted.

Whatever was normal is no longer the case.

So becoming regulated becomes extremely important, which it always is, but becomes more obvious during times when people are disoriented and stressed. This regulation is on a nervous system level. Regulation looks like a lower heart rate, relaxed muscles, and even breathing. Those are signs in the body that you are in a state of regulation and that has an effect on those around us. By keeping yourself centered and regulated, you will help others regulate.

Only from that state of regulation can you access all of your intelligence- rationale, emotional, body- and activate your executive functioning or problem-solving or even memory and knowledge.

When our bodies are dysregulated, the higher processes in our minds go offline.

So the most fundamental thing for all of us, but especially those in positions of leadership is to practice and contemplate ways that help us keep ourselves self-regulated.

The Importance of Connection

Now more than ever it’s important to call people together. The community around you is made up of individuals who are operating now physically, independently, and separately from each other and who really, really need connection.

In organizations, there’s incredible importance for leaders to recognize the need for connection.

The foundation for how leaders can help keep their employees connected is leading from consciousness.

Leading from consciousness means being in reality. You are in awareness of what is present here and now. You can utilize all of your senses and observe. But another part of reality is your thoughts that are passing by.

Consciousness also means recognizing that you can create your own reality and you can take action. You can take steps. You can reframe.

We do need to be thinking about the future more than ever before. At the same time, we only know what we do know. There’s a lot that is quite uncertain.

So how can we keep bringing people back to the present-day reality?

And how can we create a current reality where we are connected to each other even if we’re not physically present with each other?

And how can, in that connection, we recognize that there are all of these different realities without making any of them wrong?

I encourage you as a leader to be thinking about these things and to bring your team or community together to check in and ask “where are you now?”

“Where are you now?”

There are going to be diverse answers to that in a group of any size. I know that a lot of the leaders I’ve been sharing this with have felt a lot of burden of, “I don’t know what to say to them.”

You don’t have to have an answer or solution. The burden is not on you to have anything to say.

There’s a massive opportunity for you to not say anything and for you to create a space where everyone can just listen.

The power of being witnessed cannot be understated. It’s extremely powerful to be heard.

More than any time, today, in this current reality, there is an opportunity to experience connection as we never have before despite physical distance.

You can do so by simply creating the space to be heard and seen. You don’t have to solve anything, you simply have to be a witness to another’s reality.

This article is related to my interview with Janet Logothetti – Listen here. 

Photography by Kelley Raye //

Dr. Caneel Joyce is a CEO Coach and social scientist who helps people break out of the invisible traps and make whole-life changes easily and naturally.

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