how great leaders win

The Chaos Advantage: How Great Leaders Win in Uncertain Times

As a futurist and strategic analyst, I study future trends for executives at corporations and government agencies. We are looking at the future to see how best to guide their organizations. Most are hoping for positive trends, smooth sailing, and a clear path to success, but usually what we find is complexity. What happens next is what defines great executives over merely functional ones. Great leaders are undaunted by crazy, disruptive futures because they see opportunities in the chaos. They figure that this change will also unsettle their competitors, and thus they plan to not only lead their organization, but to find a way to create something even greater, beyond any of the competition.

I call this The Chaos Advantage.

Prohibition, world wars, and the end of communism actually led to some of the greatest triumphs in the history of leadership, and today’s future trends are no less full of potential for your organization’s success. My latest keynote The Chaos Advantage will challenge any audience how to see disruptive or turbulent developments in economy, industry, or company as an opportunity for future success.

History and the Chaos Advantage

Great leaders throughout history show us that calm periods of time do not always lead to the greatest periods of success. Forty years of blood and strife under the Medici gave us the Renaissance while 800 years of peace in Switzerland gave us the cuckoo clock.

When you compare the economic fates of Spain versus its vassal, the Netherland, the Conquistadors had all the resources necessary to dominate the future – and yet it was the Dutch who found the route to thrive.

Business and the Chaos Advantage

Similarly, the annals of business show leaders who leveraged disruption. Anheuser-Busch had a problem that you’ve probably never faced: their product was entirely and unequivocally outlawed. Yet inside of thirty years, they outlasted all of their competition and became the largest brewer in the world.

Nokia had a problem. It’s number one customer, the Soviet Union, was going out of business. The empire next door represented 40% of the company’s revenue. Nokia was vastly over-diversified and tucked away in a tiny corner of Europe. And yet CEO Jorma Ollila managed to find a route to global success while the likely winners, Motorola, never saw them coming.

The future trends that will create chaos – or opportunity

This brings us to the modern day and the organizations that we are leading. You’ve probably heard the old curse, “May you live in interesting times.” Well, things sure are interesting. But as history tells us, great leaders look to this kind of rapid change and think of what good can come from it all.

To conclude The Chaos Advantage, we look at the major shifts that are creating the future. The rise of artificial intelligence, moving global energy to the electrical grid, competitors moving fully online and mobile, consumers with significantly different needs and values – The Chaos Advantage concludes with a vision of the future that we all face. And an exhortation to be the kind of leader that finds success no matter what the odds.