Systemic Leadership & Management
Be a true leader – not a dictator © Martyn Carruthers

Leadership is about mission, communication and results. To master management, learn to coach yourself and your subordinates to cooperate. We coach people in leadership, team training, systemic coaching and relationship management.


Within the larger frames of missions and visions, day-to-day leadership is about survival, power, stability and success. Leadership is about managing relationship systems within larger environments. Leadership is about guiding people – whether teams, families, businesses or countries.

Leadership qualities can make or break any group of people. Leadership at any level requires solving personal, professional and technical problems, providing stability and developmental opportunities, assessing internal and external conditions and planning for expected and unknown possibilities.

Effective leadership requires ongoing assessment – evaluating and judging people, their environments and how people respond to environmental changes, while avoiding the transferences implicit within first impressions.

Taken together, mission, vision, and assessment create an ecology, a set of fundamental relationships forming the bedrock of real leadership. These tools allow people, regardless of job title, to help shape their future. Peter M Senge

We perceive leadership skills as important assets of an organization. Like creativity and initiative, leadership skills can be managed.

What leaders need to know

Most leaders face external pressures, such as demands for performance, regulations and ordinances, health issues and public concerns about environmental impacts. The safety and survival of an organizationrequires ongoing attention to these pressures, just as much as to old equipment or outdated practices.

Leaders not only lead any reforms that might be implemented, but also convince stakeholders that those changes are necessary – and seek funds to support innovation. Leaders can leverage reform with systemic leadership, integrating individual self-assessment with knowledge and organizational goals.

It is interesting to study the qualities of leaders. You can study their characters, values, style, skills and behavior. But if you attempt to copy their patterns, if you try to copy behavior that is incongruent with your own values and identity, you will likely fail.

Many people become competent managers, yet fail as leaders. As a leader, you should know:

  1.  Why you want to lead other people?
  2.  What you do when you make a mistake?
  3.  What you consider before initiating change?
  4.  What you do when the unexpected happens?
  5.  What are your private thoughts about leadership?
  6.  What are your private beliefs about yourself as a leader?
  7.  What are your private assessments about the people who follow you?


Leaders and followers are both essential parts of human systems, and both express systemic behavior typical of other relationship entanglements.

To be a leader, you must have at least one follower – at least one person who will follow your example, instructions or advice. Study your followers. Why do they prefer or allow you to make decisions for them? What qualities set leaders apart from followers?

Classical thinking uses cause-effect statistics to analyze events. Systemic thinking provides leaders with explanations of why things happen in organizations, and how to change. Quantum thinking explores other possibilities inherent within human systems.

Knowledge Management . Merging Organizational Cultures

Individual & Systemic Coaching

Culture affects behavior, performance and beliefs. Cultures legitimize certain behaviors and rejects others. Yet as leaders shape an organization’s culture, a culture will also shape its leaders.

Building or rebuilding work environments are transition periods for organizations. Leaders can dictate or guide organizations to clearly articulate some goals that all members are expected to work towards. Two overlapping areas of our work are coaching individuals and coaching systems.

Individual coaching increases specific knowledge and performance, following the choices communicated by the leaders. This includes clarifying their standards and modeling those standards as behavior. Systems coaching helps people understand abstract relationship issues and predict reactions and consequences.

Archaic, Classical & Systemic Leadership

Systemic leadership does not replace archaic or classical leadership. Each offers complementary leadership tools for different types of organizations.

  • Archaic leadership is often useful for managing remote, rural or religious communities which seek the help of esoteric entities to control the environment (e.g. – many people in remote communities believe that global warming is created by local gods – gods who can be appeased). Archaic leadership skills are useful when environmental factors create community problems.
  • Classical leadership is often useful when managing simple organizations that are in equilibrium (or changing slowly) with stable environments (e.g. – many people with government jobs believe that their welfare requires rigid adherence to established rules, no matter how effective). Classical leadership skills are useful in predictable and controllable situations.
  • Systemic leadership is often useful when managing complex organizations in changing environments (e.g. – many entrepreneurs change their business structures to cope with changing market conditions and economical trends). Systemic leadership skills are useful in unstable situations where there are strong pressures and ambiguous objectives.

Accelerated Learning

Don’t Step in the Leadership!

Leading coherent teams is very different to managing groups of randomly selected people who will have conflicts and hidden agendas. The principles of systemic leadership include strategies to develop flexible human systems.

Systemic leadership provides an integrated approach to relationship challenges that allows leaders understand the power and influence of the environment on human systems. Systemic managers can improve and maintain human systems by analysis, participation and expert modeling.

Systemic leadership includes ways to assess opportunities and challenge appropriate people to take meaningful roles. Such team leadership includes inspiration, raising consciousness and creating value in membership. See Systemic Coaching and Systemic Education.

Leading Systemic Change

Achieving beneficial systemic change is rarely fast nor easy. Leading a complex human system requires adoption, adaptation and management of all sub-systems, including their boundaries and interfaces.

In a human system, specific interactions between members may seem random or chaotic. However the overall flow and consequences can be managed if you have the appropriate information about the skills and attitudes of system members, which reflect their flexibility to cope with, adapt to and learn from unexpected events and environmental changes.

Leaders can use this information to protect the most flexible yet fragile members of a system – the children. In this way, leaders can affect true systemic change that leads to lasting and sustainable development. Plans that include the health and success of future generations can inspire all members.

In their struggles to fulfill quotas and norms, leaders may ignore long term development:

  • day-to-day fulfillment of the long-term mission
  • values and beliefs that underlie how members interact
  • how your team members interact with members of other teams
  • supporting the creativity and flexibility of the member’s children
  • maintaining flexible outcomes across generations of employees

Soul Leadership

Of the many types of leadership, soul leadership may need the most stamina, courage and inner strength. Soul leadership first requires that you befriend your own emotions and your ego. If you can do this, you cease to be limited by your history or your imagination, and you can find courage to change the world.

Soul leadership requires that you transcend your need for respect, dogma, success and recognition. This will take you outside your comfort zone … where you can enjoy the power of achieving more than you dreamed – and the humility of being forever less than what our planet needs. Knowing your deepest joys and your darkest despair, you can choose to fulfill a life mission.