How can we use the body’s natural intelligence to drive impact and results in multi-stakeholder, complex systems?

In the third of our series of articles on the deeper dimensions of our approach to sustainability, Jane Weber and Anna Leong from Leadership Coefficient write about systems leadership as an enabler of multi-stakeholder collaboration initiatives. Developing the themes established by Staci K. Haines in her earlier article, they outline how we are taught to take notice only of what our head (brain) is telling us – but it’s just as important to listen to messages from our heart and gut as well.  In this article they reflect on the answers and feedback they harvested from their online session for UNDP, and offer ways forward for using our whole body intelligence to work with complex systems.

This blog contains highlights from the online session held by Leadership Coefficient on October, 20th for UNDP. You can access the recording of the full session here.

Our Session – What Were We Trying To Achieve?

We were pleased to lead this session for UNDP leaders on systems leadership.  Our objectives for the session were to:

1.      Develop awareness and insight into systems leadership as an enabler of multi-stakeholder collaboration initiatives.

2.      Provide  perspectives on systems intelligence as the next leadership essential after emotional intelligence.

3.      Explore how mindfully grounding in the natural intelligence of the body - head, heart, gut - empowers our systems intelligence.

What’s The Landscape? The Leadership Context and Implications

We are living in a VUCA world:

  • Volatile – change happens rapidly and on a large scale.
  • Uncertain – the future cannot be predicted with any precision.
  • Complex – challenges are complicated by many factors and there are few single causes or solutions
  • Ambiguous – there is often little clarity on what events mean or what effects they may have

In 2020 we have seen how the VUCA concept has been amplified and we coined the term ‘Virus-VUCA’. What does this V-VUCA world mean for our leadership?  We see three important implications.

1. It is no longer possible for one smart leader to have all the answers.

2. The future is emerging moment by moment.

3. Our past experience and current mental models will not be sufficient to solve the challenges of the future.

How Do We Approach This? The Principles of Systems Leadership

Systems Leadership is extremely challenging. In our view, these 3 Principles provide the foundation for systems leadership to become possible.

1.      Focus on the ‘Being’ versus the ‘Doing’.

2.      Leading from the ‘Whole’ rather than from ‘The Rock’.

3.      Leading from the Emerging Future rather than the Past.


Read the full text and the detailed conclusion of Leadership Coefficient´s Session here or by clicking on the image below.


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