Complexity Change Theory: Improvisational Leadership for Complex and Chaotic Environments

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Leadership & Organizational Management Journal

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This paper explores the use of powerful and effective leadership within complex, changing and/or turbulent environments and proposes the Complexity Change Theory with eight recommendations for leaders. The authors argue that organizational goals cannot be stable in a dynamic environment. The myth of stability and control must be faced head-on and organizational leadership must be comfortable with chaos. Combining these processes and implementing the eight recommendations for leading in complexity change environments expresses an urgent call for leaders to move beyond the command and control model of leadership and embrace the power of the complexity change theory in their organizations. Two pathways are identified for leaders to navigate a complex and chaotic environment while compelling organizations forward. The individual's internal framework was explored using several processes: cognitive process, pattern recognition, spiritual awareness, and sense-making. Cognitive science and leadership scholars have identified these processes as areas of tremendous untapped potential. The external framework, the environment in which the individual exists with others, explores the use of distributive cognition and knowledge creation/knowledge sharing. This new paradigm of leadership offers help for beleaguered leaders in a sea of change.