I was just re-reading David Peter Stroh’s book, Systems Thinking for Social Change, and was reminded of the iceberg as a metaphor for a system. 90% Of an iceberg is what lies below the surface of the water. It cannot be seen but the Titanic lies at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean because of it. The purpose of a leadership system is what lies below the surface of the water. Outside observable behaviors of individual leaders, it cannot be seen. Though hidden, its power is incalculable. The size of its mass relative to what can be seen, gives us an understanding of its power.
Most organizations try to manage the enterprise by controlling the elements and to some degree the interconnections. But unfortunately, they are trying to control 100% of the iceberg by focusing on 10% of the mass. The math does not work. Organizations would be far more successful by focusing on the 90% of the iceberg. For leadership, this means identifying the systems purpose. Once this is set, everything else will fall into place.
In his book, The Power of Purpose, Richard Leider describes personal purpose this way: “Purpose is the aim around which we structure our lives, a source of direction and energy. Through the lens of purpose, we are able to see ourselves-and our future-more clearly”. The same could be said for the purpose of the leadership system = Through the power of purpose, the aim around which we structure our leadership, we will have our source of direction and energy. Through the lens of our purpose, we will see ourselves and our future more clearly.