We all belong to a complex network of related systems: biological systems, social systems, political systems, family systems, work systems, ecological systems and atomic and subatomic systems. The one that impacts many of us is the organisational system at work.

To thrive, be effective and make sound decisions at work – a place where we spend a considerable amount of our time – it is vital that we are able to understand and respond to these various systems. There is no true understanding of how the world operates until we start to see the world as a whole – a system governed by a set of unchanging principles that maintain order, cohesion and coherence. To understand how this complex systems works requires a certain level of awareness. Systemic awareness is a new kind of leadership skill, a skill that requires us to recognise that each choice and decision has an effect on a scale that has implications for an ever-widening environment.

Systemic leadership and systemic awareness

James Pereira QC
James Pereira QC

When we look at history as a whole, we can see how every step that we took in our evolution as humans has naturally brought us to a new and necessary step in our growth and learning. And at each new step, we are greeted with an invitation to acquire new skill sets and an enhanced degree of awareness.

Systemic leaders need systemic awareness.  Systemic awareness relates to how well we can sense the greater forces that influence and shape our world.  This may be the dynamics and values operating within a law firm. These dynamics may engage questions such as: whose opinion matters most for a decision? Who is responsible for decisions? What values do those decisions take into account, for example, do they take into consideration the wellbeing of staff for the financial wellbeing of the firm? Do they sustain client relationships? Are changes made to accepted forms of behaviour that no longer serve the good of client relationships, or team members, such as changes in gender roles and the representation of ethnic groups?

Zita Tulyahikayo
Zita Tulyahikayo

Systemic awareness speaks to an outer awareness that allows leaders to formulate a winning strategy that anticipates what is coming, rather than figuring out how to react once change has arrived.

Systemic leadership invites us all, as leaders in our own right to raise our systemic awareness, increase our capacity to really pay attention to what is happening, rather than stay stuck in the place of focusing on how you wish things to remain. It means looking at the world and understanding it as a moving phenomenon – a constant unfolding that reveals itself in every moment.  If you are falling behind the shifting sands of space and time in who you hire, how you hire and how you support your staff, the result may not be experienced as an immediate aftermath. Nevertheless, the impact will be moving, felt but unseen through the entire system of the organization and beyond.

Systemic leadership and natural order

There is a new order emerging in human systems. This order will not come about as a result of power, nor will it be a result of the will of a lone wolf. It will emerge from nature itself.  As humans we belong to nature, it is in us and all around us. The new order will be supported by leaders who hold a systemic awareness and who have the capacity to adjust the sails to what is.

Becoming mindful is a natural part of this new leadership skill. How do you tune into a level of understanding that allows you to notice, to pay attention to when you are not in alignment with the natural order of reality? Many of the problems that law firms face are the result of a difference between how as humans we naturally order ourselves, and how we think we should order ourselves.

So take some time this summer as nature is in all her bloom and glory to explore and experience the world through the orders and laws of nature. It’s a simple and effective way to expand your vision and understanding.

The Libra Partnership wishes you a wonderful summer break.

If you would like more information on raising the systemic awareness of your firm or if you would like to develop your own systemic leadership skills, please contact Zita and James of The Libra Partnership (contact@thelibrapartnership.com)