Pick a situation in your life right now that has chaos.  That didn’t take long, did it? Life is continually full of chaos. However, there is a great leadership principle I learned many years ago has been the most important daily leadership principle I consistently use. Any success or failure that I have had, I can look at this principle and identify where it went right, or where it headed south.

I have a unique job at Outreach, Inc., that frequently moves people from chaos to unity. We get tens of thousands of volunteers each year to show up in gyms, rec centers, office complexes, and anywhere there is space big enough to get people to package meals for hungry people both at home and abroad. Most of the time, when people arrive they have very little idea what they are going to do except feed the hungry.  It is our job to take them through the four stages from gathering through chaos into unity with outcomes of performance. We move people from chaos to unity. The photo above illustrates that process.

Here’s how we do it and why this leadership principle will work anywhere under any conditions for anyone. You can apply this to your work, to your family, to your recreative activities, to your civic or religious organization, or anywhere people form a group.

Moving People From Chaos to Unity

Moving People From Chaos to Unity


Shared Vision- For people to perform well, they must know why they are doing what they are doing and how their part fits into a bigger picture.

Role Definition- Define the roles and responsiblities of each person to function as a team. The quarterback knows his role and how that fits with the other ten players on his offense. Each one has a specific role and, only when they function in that role, can the team actually perform.

Processes– Football teams call them playbooks, companies call the policies and processes, parents call them rules for living under our roof.

Once people are performing well, all it takes to move back into chaos is for one person to leave, a new person to arrive, or someone to start playing a role they to which they aren’t assigned. Our family is lovingly thrown into chaos each time our kids who are in college come home for a while. Then we have to start over again with shared vision (we want a happy home), role definition (we are parents and this is our house, not your dorm room), and processes (therefore you need to quit pick up your dirty clothes and dirty dishes).

Have you found other principles like this that move people from chaos to unity? I’d love to hear about them.

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