Leadership: it is not a person, it is a system!
In late 2016 I was asked by a rural health care system to help then design a formal model of leadership. It was part of their Baldridge journey into excellence. I did so with the understanding that leadership is first a system and that our approach would be to design a system, beginning with its requirements. The analogy is simple, if we ask a software developer to design a data system, the first thing they will ask is… what do you want the system to produce? And from that, what are the design requirements?
The results were so startling that I spent 2017 researching how to apply systems thinking to the discipline of leadership. Two other collaborators were critical in this endeavor. One was Mr. Theo Yu, a PhD candidate researching the application of system thinking in resolving systemic violence in the developing world. Also. Mr. Kyle Usery, JD a professor of business, law, ethics, and leadership at Colorado Christian University. Kyle teaches in both the MBA and MPA programs.
One of our many observations about leadership as a system, is that great leaders, develop great systems. Great leaders are not satisfied with short term gains in organizational performance. Great leaders want to see long term sustainable gains in organizational performance that outlasts them and set up systems to do just that.
Though there is much work yet to be done, our objective is a book detailing case studies and the opportunities of developing intentional leadership systems. We are actively searching for case study material and can be reached through our contact page.
We Facilitate the Design of Leadership Systems
The design of a leadership system is a facilitated engagement that incorporates the experience and wisdom of senior leaders. This is a project where the process is as important as the product. It is a five step process that is designed to create a formal system that meets all of the system requirements as identified by Donella Meadows in her classic work titled: Thinking in Systems:
1. Critical elements;
2. How those elements interact; and
3. Function or purpose.