Is Leadership Really a System

Close up of men's rowing team

Donnella Meadows defines a system as, an interconnected set elements that is coherently organized in a way that achieves something. If you look at that definition closely for a minute, you can see that a system must consist of three kinds of things: elements, interconnections, and a function or purpose. Because leadership is a relational enterprise among human beings it is therefore a social system. David Peter Stroh, in his book Systems Thinking for Social Change builds in Meadows definition by adding that a system should “achieve a desired purpose” . In other words, a social system can have a desired purpose or outcome where as a natural system such as a beehive was born out of millions of years of evolution. Evolutionary systems began with the elements, which over time began to interact and over millions of years turned into something spectacular.
With a leadership system, we don’t have to wait 250 million years. A leadership system can be designed and deployed that will engage sustainable innovation.


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