Leading in the Online Chaord

The concept of chaordic leadership goes back to Dee Hock, the founder of Visa International and a leading management thinker. In The Art of Chaordic Leadership he defines chaord as “any self-organizing, self governing, adaptive, nonlinear, complex organism, organization, community or system, whether physical, biological or social, the behavior of which harmoniously blends characteristics of both chaos and order”.

Dee Hock formed Visa on the basis of applying chaord to business, and as a means of managing it, he took a deeper look into the concept of leadership. His argument was that the relationship between leader and follower should be based on induced behavior, in contrast to compelled behavior that was (and still remains) standard in most formal organizations. Followers should show initiative by choosing where they want to be led, and leaders should act in accordance with the sense of the community – the beliefs, purpose, and values of their followers.

Following are the responsibilities of managers, in the order of importance:

  1. Manage yourself – your own integrity, character, emotions, knowledge, skills, and acts. This should occupy 50% of your time.
  2. Manage your superiors – ensure their consent and support to your actions. Devote 25% of your time for this task.
  3. Manage your peers (environment) – gain their respect and confidence, to ensure good relationships and collaboration. Devote 20% of your time for this.
  4. Manage your subordinates – this is least important in the job of a manager. If your subordinates follow the same principles, managing themselves, you – their superior, and their peers, it is sufficient to devote 5% of your time to managing them.

As the concept of chaord perfectly applies to the world of online social networks, we can try to translate Dee Hock’s leadership principles into this framework. Let’s say you have a great idea that could save the environment if adopted by a sufficient number of people, how would you go about promoting it?

  1. Build credibility. This corresponds to managing yourself, and should occupy 50% of your time. In this time, you should work on your ideas, polish them, package in quality content like blog posts, articles, podcasts. You can read here about more ways to build your credibility on the Web.
  2. Influence the influencers. You should devote 25% of your time to this task, which is counterpart to managing your superiors. The influencers are the primary reason certain ideas spread on the web, they have the power to bring your message to the attention of thousands of people. Without their support, your project will only be known to few people who won’t be able to pass the message further.
  3. Build your network. Your network consists of your peers, and you should devote 20% of your time to growing and maintaining it. A broad and active network will help you build credibility, come up with new and creative ideas, execute your project, and get support from the influencers.
  4. Influence your followers. Finally, you don’t need to spend more than 5% of your time focusing on the followers. If you have already built the credibility by coming up with great and sticky ideas, if you have spread the word via the online gurus, and if you have a vibrant network of collaborators, the people will come to follow you.

Now, where do you actually focus your time and energy? Do you follow the priorities of chaordic leadership?

Source: Hock, Dee “The Art of Chaordic Leadership” Leader to Leader. 15 (Winter 2000): 20-26.

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2 Responses to “Leading in the Online Chaord”


  1. 1 SuccessTelevision.biz September 22, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    Really good thoughts here. I love it that this was written in 2008 and still applicable today. You might also like this article on how global leaders rated themselves on 5 critical leadership skills: http://wp.me/p1irwj-hf

    Needless to say there’s a lot of room for improvement!

  2. 2 www.amigosdivebelize.com September 21, 2013 at 8:30 am

    This will likely seem too very much regarding younger people to have their mind about,
    nevertheless I have been amazed just how well the kids (A few, 6 along with 6) have got to barefoot jogging.

    We’ve identified 1,300 fake accounts, with 900 from the same IP address,
    so not exactly done smartly by them. To remove the game, find the settings link
    under the navigation box and a list of installed gadgets will appear in the “Extension Settings” area.


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