Scarlet Thinking and Tactical Leadership

Scarlet Thinking and Tactical Leadership

Tactical Leadership as a Leadership Competency

Chaos Theory: Scarlet Thinking Leaders are Tactical, Pragmatic and Flexible


Leadership and chaos theoryScarlet Thinkers hold their plans lightly so that they can respond to events. They instinctively get chaos theory’s premise that the only thing that is constant is change. This video by chaos theory academic Jim Bright looks at chaos theory and careers but, in short, it propounds that:

1. Even slight deviations from our plan will take us of course. Add these miniature deviations together and our trajectory may be completely different to the one we had previously imagined. Scarlet Thinkers understand this, plan for it and indeed welcome it.

2. Occasional random occurrences will throw us a curve-ball which can leave us bouncing into other directions. These can be good, as in the case of an old contact who tells us about our dream job or client. They can also be negative, like bereavement or illness that comes out of the blue. For me, it was going on a date with a psychologist who was training to be a barrister that reminded me of how much I used to love psychology. What’s more, the fact that he was doing this at the age of 52 was highly inspiring. It resulted in my signing up for my Masters within a week: something I hadn’t previously thought possible, but talking to him made me see that it was. It turned out to be one of the best things I’ve done for a long time

Flexibility and pragmatism is key for Scarlet Thinkers, which means that whilst you may have a plan, you’re nimble and agile enough to change it, even at short notice.

Scarlet Thinking

You can use tactical thinking to build loyalty in customers and clients, and turn your team into a tribe in the following ways:

  • Keep up to date with external forces. This can mean legal and industry changes, such as GDPR, economic and even political forces. Regularly consider what impact they may have on your plans and adjust accordingly. If you aren’t in the know, find people who are. Even stray gossip can sometimes inform your plans.
  • Likewise, if you haven’t already, garner an interest in tech and investigate how that might help your future strategy. Even if you are not an early adopter by nature, keep your eye on how others are using it and how you could do the same.
  • Look past how these things will impact you, and think about the long term effects on your clients. What will these changes mean for them and how can you help in their wake
  • Regularly ask for feedback from customers, whether that’s an official survey or just picking up the phone for a quick chat. Even if they are not currently using you, keeping that connection going is as important as the info you will receive
  • Respond to the information you do get, either to address criticisms or put ideas into practice. Thank or acknowledge people for their input. Follow up the survey and tell people what you found. Let them know their input has counted
  • Likewise, keep communication open with your team. Communicate your vision but let them have some say in the implementation. It’s likely that they may be nearer the “shop floor” so they may have experiences and feedback that will impact the plan, possibly saving time, effort and money
  • Again, thank or acknowledge their input. People like to know they have a voice that is taken seriously. I hear of so many organisations that may run surveys and ask for feedback, but do nothing on the data
  • Deliberately open yourself up to new experiences to allow Chaos Theory to get to work. John Krumboltz’s Happenstance theory suggests that we are more likely to come upon serendipitous opportunities the more we are open to new experiences and contacts. In practice, this could mean saying yes to conferences, after session drinks, attending your professional association events. Actively set yourself a goal in this arena, perhaps one event a month. That could even be a coffee with a past colleague who has now moved on. This will also help you keep your ear to the ground for gossip as in action point no.1!

If this has piqued your interest, take a look at our leadership training based on the machinations that went on in Medieval and Renaissance Verona.

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