Simple Rules for Complexity

Impact of Complexity

On a recent leadership agility workshop I was facilitating, the participants were discussing how they were personally impacted by complexity in their lives. There were many stories about the rapidness of change, the prevalence of dilemmas such as focusing on the current demands and transforming the business to cope with the future, cultural differences, the diverse and often different needs of stakeholders and the amount of information they were subjected to on a daily basis. Then Richie spoke up.

I could tell Richie was someone who the group listened to deeply. He agreed with everything that had been said, and then opened up about the complexities in his personal life. He spoke with vulnerability about his homelife, where he and his partner were raising three children – one with a disability, one starting school, and one being a newborn. Both parents were working, and had little in the way of logistical support due to their location.

This started a conversation amongst the group about how complexity in their personal life exacerbates complexity in their professional life. Richie’s story really highlighted something we all innately know to be true: operating in complexity is tough. In order to thrive, we must be open and agile, and ready to respond to the curve balls that our professional and personal lives throw at us.

This is why I chose to write my book. We are all experiencing rapid change and facing new challenges, and our existing personal ‘hardware’ won’t be enough to survive, let alone thrive.

Simple Rules for Complexity

So what can we do to increase our personal hardware to cope with greater complexity. In my book I talk about 6 simple rules that you can put in practice every day to enhance your ability to cope with complexity.

1. Understand yourself and how others experience you.
2. Play outside your comfort zone. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
3. Embrace a learning and growth mindset in everything you do.
4. Interpret your context with curiosity, honesty and accountability.
5. Build leadership density.
6. Experiment, reflect, make sense, and repeat.

I build on each of these in my book Survive and Thrive: 120 Ideas to Cultivate Leadership Agility.
So how have you experienced increased complexity in your life and how are you navigating it. Would love to hear your thoughts.

Andrew Williams is a speaker, coach, facilitator and author of Survive and Thrive: 120 Ideas to Cultivate your Leadership Agility. Head to to learn more about Andrew and his services.

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