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Understanding Systemic Leadership

Systemic leadership views leadership from the organisation’s end of the telescope. The approach treats leadership as a property of the organisation as well as of individual leaders. It asks questions like ‘What does the organisation need to do if it is to become better led as a whole?’ And it recognises that it isn’t just managers who need to learn, develop and change: the organisation needs to do these things too.

All this means that the organisation must have and apply a new kind of leadership strategy – one that is very different from conventional leadership development programmes that claim to improve leadership. In fact, unless the organisational context is itself worked on at the same time, money spent on training individuals is largely wasted. The context will let them down.

The leadership mindset needs to switch from the individual to the organisation as a system, and from management development interventions towards ones that develop the organisation. For many managers, this means mastering new subjects, with systems thinking and complexity theory being particularly significant.

It is important to gain an understanding of systemic leadership before reading about how to apply the approach. We suggest that you begin by looking at the underpinning logic. Check out ‘Theories, Definitions and Principles‘; then return to this page and look at items of interest in the adjacent blue column.

Understanding is necessary, of course, but insufficient. Under ‘Applying systemic leadership‘ you will find lots of practical advice. Good hunting!

You may like to test whether you have what it takes to become a systemic leader.

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