Our NHS People

Leadership in systems

We have seen that we don’t work as individual parts but  we operate within a complex organisational system. 

As a leader, the actions and decisions you take will have a knock-on effect on the other teams and systems that surround you. The reverse will also apply of course; the actions and decisions of other parts of the system impact you and your team. How do we operate as leaders within this interdependent system?

Whenever there is complexity there are opportunities for things to go wrong. It may be possible to predict changes and prevent errors but because we often operate within constantly changing environments, it becomes more difficult to accurately predict what will happen. 

Using systems thinking helps us to understand the complexity of the organisation or function and provides a way of considering the wider implications of actions and decisions, thereby better managing any risks that arise.

Thinking about how you sit within a system, how you approach communicating with others about changes and managing risks may well require different leadership styles depending upon the situation and the people involved. 

Consider what leadership styles you might need to use to manage risk within your team and workplace as it sits within the wider system that interconnects with you.

Use your journal to make some notes about the following questions:

Q: As a leader how do you operate within the wider system?

Q: How do you communicate with others in the wider system when it comes to identifying and managing risk?

Q: Can you think of an example where a change or problem that happened to a team in the wider system had an impact on your team or other teams that you regularly work with? Is so how did you manage it?

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