3 Ways to lead during times of chaos

By Marianne Renner, Leadership Coach, Author, Keynote Speaker

Are You Leading or Reacting?

As a leader, you’re likely to find yourself in the midst of chaos on any given day.

At times you may feel like you’re being tossed around the inside of a hurricane funnel trying to get your footing on solid ground.

Constant change, high expectations, and demands for your time can bring a high degree of worry, anxiety and even fear.

It’s easy to fall into reaction mode. But there’s a difference between reacting and leading. Reacting brings more chaos. Leading moves teams forward.

If you want to lead your people well, you need to be a leader instead of a reactor.

Here are three ways to show up as a leader rather than a reactor during chaotic times.


#1 Think Others First

When you’re in the eye of the hurricane, it’s easy to think of yourself while forgetting the needs of others. This is a common default.

But thinking of others first will help you become more energized. It feels good to help someone else, and it gets your mind off of unnecessary worry.

A reactor says, “how can I meet my own needs,” disregarding the needs of others.

A leader says: “how can I meet the needs of others for the greater good of all?” A leader asks, “how can I use my unique talents to serve? Where can I add value?”


#2 Practice Compassion

A reactor blames and complains. A reactor hears bad news and reacts by pointing fingers, placing blame, and complaining about what’s wrong.

A leader responds and understands.

A leader hears bad news and seeks to understand. A leader says, “I know everyone is trying to do their best.”


#3 Adapt to Change

A reactor stays stuck in the past and resists the present moment. A reactor worries about the future and problems that don’t exist.

A leader stays in the present and accepts what is. A leader looks for ways to adapt to the new situation.

A leader is a thinker – thinking about next steps. He or she maintains a vision for the future and sees the possibilities ahead.


Here’s why this matters:

Staying in a place of reaction keeps you stuck in frustration and anxiety. It drains you of your energy and robs you of your ability to solve problems.

When you’re in a state of reaction and negativity, your brain doesn’t function the same. Your ability to think creatively and solve problems diminishes greatly.

You’re less likely to tap into creative solutions needed to get through times of crisis.

When you step into these three behaviors of leadership, you become energized, empowered, and motivated into action.

You benefit. Your organization benefits. Those around you benefit.


Here are more resources like this one:

5 traits every leader should using to strengthen your team!

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