Systems Leadership

  • Understand how team members perceive themselves and each other.
  • Understand how team members perceive the organization.
  • Understand how team members perceive the leader.
  • Predict how they will interpret change.

The fundamental work of a leader is to create, maintain and improve a group of people so that they achieve objectives and continue to do so over time.Dr Ian McDonald
Systems leadership supports leaders in an organisation to create the conditions where people at all levels can work productively to their potential while achieving the organisation’s purpose.

It does this by providing a logically coherent set of models with which to analyse the social processes of the organisation and the behaviours which these produce. Used effectively they drive being more rigorous in our thinking about the social arena of any organisation and, in particular, the behaviours, systems and symbols that drive culture.

Systems Leadership underpins all our organisational development activities at Response Consulting.

Key Concepts
  • Work is a social process. Outputs are achieved through the interaction of human beings
  • Change is ever present, ongoing and not always resisted
  • People behave rationally (they have rationale)
  • The way we organise and do work (systems & behaviour) influences behaviour
  • To influence constructively we have to understand the impact of our behaviour & systems
  • Clarity in managerial relationships is necessary for a productive culture.
  • Appropriate structures for accountability and authority are essential.
  • Direct managerial relationships, with the right structures, create that necessary clarity.

Praise for Systems Leadership from our Clients

“Systems Leadership is some of the most important work ever written with respect to understanding and improving organisations and their culture, irrespective of size or type. For those of us in the business of running companies, advising to executive teams or boards, Macdonald provides the ability to predict with absolute certainty the effect of management initiatives, well-meaning or otherwise, on the organisations culture and employee relations. It provides a framework for the design of your organisation and people systems. Virgin Blue Airlines, voted World’s Best low cost airline in 2004 and 2005, continue to use Systems Leadership theories to guide the rapid growth of our business and maintain our unique guest service experience. I cannot recommend the practical importance of this work more highly to those serious about sustaining an effective executive career.”

Bruce Highfield, General Manager People & Founding Executive Team member
Virgin Blue Airlines Ltd

“This work is based on a multitude of practical experiences where the sustainable benefits from implementing the methodology have been very significant. Within the rigour of the approach to defining the work of Leaders and their Team Members is the challenge to understand how successful and effective Teamwork can be replicated to benefit both the organisation and the individuals that work in it.

Experienced Leaders will recognise much of this material as a good fit with their intuitive understanding of how they have achieved success in the past. The value of this work is the ability to standardise this insight and to develop a new generation of leaders with confidence in a positive outcome both for them and the organization.”

Oscar Groeneveld, former Chief Executive
Rio Tinto Aluminium

“…CEOs, executives, boards, policy advisors and academics should read it if sustainable productivity improvement is on their agenda. After all, multi factor productivity is ultimately driven by labour productivity. Social process deserves the same degree of rigour that we traditionally apply to science, engineering etc. if we are to achieve the most challenging and rewarding work through proper and ethical concepts of leadership”

David Murray, Chairman, Australian Government Future Fund, formerly CEO
Commonwealth Bank of Australia

Want to learn more?

Our Systems Leadership programs are customised to your business that will help your managers learn the leadership tools and skills they need to effectively manage and develop their people.

We don't run open to the public workshops. All of our programs are designed via a process of working with our clients to understand their culture, their strategy, their challenges and their objectives.

If you would like to meet with one of our Senior Consultants for a confidential discussion with no obligations please feel free to get in touch.

Talk to an expert
Download the Response Consulting case study.
Practical Application of Systems Leadership