Are you a Chronos or Kairos Leader?

If you read my blog often you will notice that I get a lot of my inspiration from my pastor, , at in .  David is a great speaker and a well-read individual who has an uncanny way to put concepts into words that catch my attention and make me think.  For that, I am most thankful.

During yesterday’s sermon, David discussed the concept of Chronos versus Kairos when talking about time.  Here is a short description of each:

  • Chronos is a sequential methodology of describing time, an orderly fashion
  • Kairos is more like a unique moment, even THE unique moment for things to occur

While hearing the difference between chronos and kairos it made me think about leadership and management.  I see a strong connection between these two terms and how leaders lead and managers manage.  I would even go so far as to say that there are also chronos leaders.  More to come on that concept.  Let’s take a moment today and look at how these concepts lend themselves to the concept of leading and managing others.

Chronos looks at time in a more sequential and orderly fashion.  From a chronos perspective, there is an order to things and getting things in that order is of great importance.  There is also a quantitative component to chronos.

Chronos thinking, or chronos leadership, is more about getting things into an orderly fashion, getting them in sequence and realizing that there are quantitative (numerical) measures that need to take place in order for success to occur.  Chronos leadership is important.  Things need to be in order and need to be sequential in most cases for things to happen as they should.  When I think of chronos leadership I think of project management.  Project Management is very much about chronos leadership.  The successful project is very sequential with measures in many places and time frames being of great value.  Without chronos leaders, projects will fail.

Kairos leaders are different.  Kairos leaders are more about “carpe minutam” (seize the minute or moment).  Kairos leaders will think less about the sequence or the cost, but they will take a more intuitive approach and realize that there are unique times when things come together in a unique way for success to occur.  Kairos leadership is not opposed to chronos leadership, but it is different in how it occurs.  Many of the great events in history have occurred due to kairos leadership, and many more have occurred due to a combination of chronos and kairos leadership working hand in hand.

Dwight Eisenhower was a chronos leader.  He worked with others, specifically George C. Marshall, to plan to D-Day invasion in June 1944 by sequencing thousands of events in order to make sure that this invasion of Europe was successful.  Even with all of this planning, he resorted to kairos leadership in choosing the invasion date, June 6.  By keeping up with the weather reports he used his chronos skills to find the right window and then he made the decision to move forward on June 6, primarily with his kairos skills.  He even went so far as to write a letter of apology for the failure of the invasion in case things did not go right, which was truly a combination of both chronos and kairos leadership.

David was a kairos leader in the bible when he chose to fight the philistine, Goliath, on the battlefield.  From a chronos perspective there was no way that David could slay the giant.  Using his kairos thinking, he chose the small, smooth stones and used his sling to defeat the obvious winner, at least from a chronos perspective.

I’ll be back later this week to give more definition to chronos and kairos leaders.

In preparation for that next post, consider these two quotes that reflect chronos vs. kairos leadership:

  • In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.  Dwight D. Eisenhower  (source:  Brainyquote.com)
  • Everyone here has the sense that right now is one of those moments when we are influencing the future.  Steve Jobs  (source:  Brainyquote.com)