What is Systemic Leadership?

Updated: Sep 24, 2021

In African Philosophy, there is a saying called Ubuntu, meaning “I am because we are”. We only exist in relationships with others.


Systemic Leadership | MQ Learning


Traditionally, leadership has been attributed to people who embody and inspire a vision. The individuals like Steve Jobs or Einstein, who had a strong sense of vision and purpose, led the change with a passion. However, this fascination towards strong individuals can also negatively turn, giving rise to extremism (fascism or Stalinism). Another way of leading is collective, where rather than positioning their own ideas, leaders establish a space where new ideas can emerge. Such leaders facilitate change communities, design feedback loops, and create a culture of experimentation & failures.

Systemic leadership is about holding the tension between individual and collective leadership. Systemic leaders not only hold the vision of a future but are also interested in the process of accomplishing the higher purpose. They inspire people, create interrelation networks and harness the power of shared ideas by providing a psychologically safe space. They are charismatic beings serving a bigger idea, just like Nelson Mandela.


Leading people in a Systemic way involves:

  • Building Strong and Flexible Teams where diverse personalities, ideas, and value systems are integrated into a psychologically safe space to fulfill the higher purpose.

  • Engaging with Stakeholders as inter-relational networks where we co-create a purposeful future together

  • Having difficult conversations by leveraging the potency of tensions. Each talk is an opportunity to know others through deep listening, constant feedback, and trust-based negotiation.

  • Inspiring people logically, relationally, and meaningfully while holding a space where new ideas can emerge.

In systemic human relations, clarity and compassion is the winning proposition. Starting with Self, we engage in a widening web of relationships with other people, only to return to ourselves. The power of Ubuntu, I am because we are.


MQ Learning offers programs on Leading People in a Systemic Way in Zurich and online.. The program is aimed at professionals (mid-level managers & above) and change-makers to become people leaders and shape a network that can leverage collective intelligence.


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