When Chaos Reigns – A Quintessential Leadership Perspective

Posted: November 6, 2016 in General Things about Quintessential Leadership
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Chaos reigns where quintessential leadership does not existIn any given situation in life, to be successful, productive, and growing, leadership (to be clear, not just someone who self-appoints themselves as a leader, or someone who is elevated to a leadership position by an entrenched buddy system that establishes criteria that are so limited that they ensure that person alone can be given the leadership position and they can fill the minion positions around them, or someone with a title who is not a leader, but instead an authentic quintessential leader) must be in place: clear, established, identified, and where the buck stops.

When leadership is absent or unquintessential leadership is in place, chaos reigns.

What are the signs that we need to be aware of to recognize that no quintessential leadership is in place and chaos is reigning?

The first sign of chaos reigning is inconsistency throughout the organization in messaging, in emphasis, in focus, and in direction.

Quintessential leaders clearly establish and communication the mission, the message, the emphasis, the focus, and the direction of the organizations they lead. No matter where one looks, externally or internally, within the organization, there is consistency.

Where there is a quintessential leadership void within an organization, inconsistency abounds and the result is that each person decides for themselves what is important for them and that’s what they spend their time and energy pursuing.

Therefore, stark and polar differences can be seen in different areas throughout the organization, often in conflict, often out in left field, and always unchecked.

For teams and for potential customers, this environment destroys trust, destroys morale, and, with time, will cause a steady exodus of both team members and potential customers because the chaos is simply too much to endure and to bear.

The irony in all this is that, as the organization crumbles and shatters into nothing, the people who should be quintessential leaders (they are the self-appointed, the elevated-by-buddies, the titleholders only) are totally oblivious, too busy enjoying the perks of their positions, the glass houses they’ve built to separate themselves from “the little people,” and the riches they have obtained on the backs of a lot of hard labor and much sacrifice they themselves could never and would never have done.

Another sign of a void of quintessential leadership is the development of fiefdoms. Where fiefdoms exist, chaos reigns.

Fiefdoms materialize when people in leadership positions play favorites and allow team members who want to control, want to be in the limelight being seen and heard all the time, and who want to be “the hero,” to pursue their ambitions and desires unchecked and without consequences when failures inevitably occur.

Fiefdoms work at cross purposes with the concept of teams. One person takes over and refuses to include anyone else – including the people who are supposedly on the team with them – and actively works to ensure a blackout for all other team members while simultaneously undermining them and currying favor with the people in leadership positions over them.

Chaos reigns because when things don’t get done because the feif simply can’t do all they have taken on and the things that don’t get done lead to bigger problems because they’re not done.

Chaos also reigns because every time the other team members try to do anything, they get dressed down, thwarted, and shut down by the fief, leaving them unsure exactly why they are even there and what they are supposed to be doing.

The fiefdom/chaos combination leads to frustration for the other team members because they spend more time in limbo than they do anywhere else.

They are aware of their responsibilities and want to carry them out, but they’ve been blocked from doing what they are supposed to do by the fief. And, yet when all hell breaks loose because of the things undone, the fief immediately shifts the blame to the rest of the team.

It is a no-win situation and it will destroy the organization from the inside out.

A final sign of a leadership void and chaos reigning is the lack of an identified team leader to whom everyone is responsible and answers.

When team members don’t have an identified leader, they will inevitably chose the person they trust the most as the team leader.

However, the leader often ends up being a different person, with different outlooks, different priorities, and different roles in the organization, for each team member.

This is a surefire recipe for chaos reigning. It creates conflict. It creates night-and-day different goals and objectives. And it, ultimately, creates a huge mess.

Sometimes those messes are recoverable, but often times they are so big and so devastating that recovery is impossible and the organization collapses into ashes, blown away and erased by the winds of time as though it had never existed.

For those of us who are striving to be quintessential leaders, chaos is never an option. The mere thought of chaos should deeply disturb us and be a state that we never allow ourselves or our teams to be in or to tolerate.

However, to ensure that we’re not guilty of allowing chaos to reign, we must take a hard look at ourselves to ensure that none of the signs above – not even a hint – are anywhere in us or in our teams.

Do we guide our teams in consistency, ensuring through communication and coaching – and consequences, if need be, for deviations – adherence to the same message, focus, direction, and emphasis?

Do we allow fiefdoms to develop among our teams? Do we abet fiefdoms by showing favoritism among our teams? Do we encourage fiefdoms by allowing rogue team members to flourish and succeed?

Are we the identified leader of our teams? Do we function in that role and take our responsibility seriously? Or do we simply cultivate a following of admirers and adorers who stroke our egos and boost our vanity and blind us to to the bigger picture that we are playing the Pied Piper role in the eventual destruction of our teams and our organizations?

How are we doing?


  1. […] adapt to the model – often amoral, often divisive, often corrupt, often dishonest, and often chaotic – of that […]


  2. […] Sometimes, an organization is faced with the difficult reality that they have become stagnant, or are not performing as best as they can and changes must be made.  In the article from the Inquirer, the Pennsylvania Ballet made a move and completely overhauled a good portion of the artistic and administrative staff.  The new Director, Angel Corella, chose a new team that he felt “comfortable” with, saying “energy is important in an arts organization.  If you are comfortable, everything will fall into place”.  Of course, the flip side to that is to not get too comfortable, because that will breed complacency and even chaos. […]


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