Chaordic Leadership and Resilience During Covid-19

Covid-19 is wreaking havoc and disorientation around the world. Leadership responses during this global pandemic, and in the months to come as restrictions are eased and movement returns, will be the stuff of legend. Individual and collective actions will be studied and analyzed for decades to come.

There are many leaders who have been responding brilliantly to this disruption. In our book Building Trust and Relationship at the Speed of Change we describe what it means to be Worldview Intelligent and it is clear to us that these leaders are acting with Worldview Intelligence.  They embody clarity, strength, fierceness and compassion. They are building a foundation for resilience in their countries, companies and communities. They live Chaordic Leadership. They sense when and how to navigate the chaordic intersections of order and control and when and how to navigate the intersection of chaos and order. They have done this by surrounding themselves with competent experts and by staying tuned into developing circumstances.

There is a dynamic tension in each of the chaordic overlaps and Worldview Intelligent Leaders sense into what is needed now while paying attention to evolving circumstances for what is needed next.

Resilience is the ability to respond and adapt to change or chaotic situations in ways that are proactive, build capacity and ensure essential needs are met. Chaordic Leadership not only supports the conditions for resilience, it offers the right balance of control and order. This gives people more confidence that there is a way out of chaos, there is a future to aspire to even amongst all the unknowns.  This is also a Worldview Intelligence approach to leading.

We often ask the people we work with: “What is the difference between control and order?” When we don’t have clarity, we ask for structure and a prescribed way forward. It is a default. We want reassurance and we need a sense that things are under control right now. Worldview Intelligent Leaders understand the balance between the need for control and when to ease up so that order can offer opportunities for evolution, collaboration and the resourcefulness of a diversity of views in a community, organization or country.

Order offers guidance rather than rigid rules, the opportunity for individuals to bring discretion to decision making within a framework. It provides the greater responsiveness that contributes to resilience and it brings about a common understanding or collective clarity of what is needed now. A minimum elegant structure creates the opportunity for individuals to bring everything they have to their role with enough clarity to know the scope of their authority, leadership and responsibility and enough leeway to bring about innovative solutions.

National leaders who are responding with chaordic confidence demonstrate what it means to be a Worldview Intelligent Leader. Interestingly, many of the countries that have offered effective responses and are providing reassurance in this time are women: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Adhern, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Denmark Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen. There are also men who are demonstrating this including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Nova Scotia Premier Stephen MacNeil (who’s admonition to Stay the Blazes home went viral), New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, California Governor Gavin Newsome and Minnesota Governor Tim Walz. We are now seeing US State Governors announcing collaborative efforts on the west coast and in the north east, filling a leadership vacuum.

All of these leaders are steady in their responses, rely on medical, scientific and public health research and expertise, refrain from making misleading statements or suggesting solutions that are not well reasoned and supported by evidence. They are compassionate in their public addresses, acknowledging the challenges, human toll and grief of this time. They thank individuals for their adherence to the conditions in place and essential workers for their sacrifices. They continually remind us all of why we are doing what we are doing now.

These Worldview Intelligent Leaders bring calm to the populace, have had success in restricting the spread of coronavirus and are being realistic or cautious in their estimates of when the restrictions that have been put in place will be lifted. They are authorizing companies to provide fast, innovative solutions to shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) and ventilators, among other things.

There are also many company leaders who have shown clear leadership in this chaotic time. We highlighted a few of them in our previous blog post on Disruption and Innovation Sparked by Covid-19. In a future blog post we will highlight how they and others also demonstrate the characteristics of Worldview Intelligence. In a time when it feels like we have so little control and such great uncertainty about the future, looking to our Worldview Intelligent Leaders provides some comfort, hope and inspiration.