Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Life's a system!

Life’s many things. But is it a system? Well, it’s one way of looking at it! But to a systems thinker how anything ‘works’ can be better understood by taking a systems perspective. A friend of mine, Danny Chesterman, finds it helpful to see individuals as "systems in motion, more or less held together in a network of loyalties, relationships and shared meanings and rituals”. You can think of leadership as a system too; this radical viewpoint is explained in The Search for Leadership and accompanying toolkit. Cornwall Council’s child services failure of leadership was ‘systemic’, not just individual failed managers. And, of course, Baby P’s tragic death in Haringey. So too was the Puma helicopter crash, the Met’s shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes, Stafford Hospital, Newcastle United Football Club, and the BBC Jonathan Ross/Russell Brand episode. In all such cases “Lessons will be learned”, they reassuringly say (but they rarely are). So why is improving an organisation and its leadership so difficult? Don't look to leadership (leader) development; that doesn’t achieve this. The real lesson to be learnt is this: to fix leadership you need to fix the leadership system and ‘the way leadership works round here’. To find out how, take a look at www.searchforleadership.blogspot.com.