In this chaotic world, we need leaders. But we don’t need bosses. We need leaders to help us develop the clear identity that lights the dark moments of confusion. We need leaders to support us as we learn how to live by our values. We need leaders to understand that we are best controlled by concepts that invite our participation, not policies and procedures that curtail our contribution.
During the past several years, there has been enough research to demonstrate the enduring strength and resiliency of companies that have strong values (Collins and Porras 1993). But to this research we can now add the voice of chaos theory. Seemingly chaotic processes work with simple formulas to create astonishing complexity and capacity. In chaos theory it is true that you can never tell where the system is headed until you’ve observed it over time. Order emerges, but it doesn’t materialize instantly. This is also true for organizations, and this is a great challenge in our speed-crazed world. It takes time to see that a well-centered organization really has enough invisible structure to work well. Many of these organizations are already out there, beckoning to us from the future. But if they have not been part of our own experience, we are back to acts of faith. As the universe keeps revealing more of its ordering processes, hopefully we will understand that systems achieve order from clear centers rather than imposed restraints.
Leadership and the New Science: Discovering Order in a Chaotic World Revised
Margaret J. Wheatley