Frank Uit de Weerd and Marita Fridjhon, "Systems Inspired Leadership" (CRR Global, 2021)


Listeners who have tuned in to my most recent episodes here on Systems and Cybernetics will be familiar with what seems be a current running theme. So, as I grapple with what it takes to bring systems thinking to life, I couldn't help but be intrigued when I came across Systems Inspired Leadership: How to Tap Collective Wisdom to Navigate Change, Enhance Agility, and Foster Collaboration (CRR Global, 2021). The book's authors Marita Fridjhon and Frank Uit de Weerd start by acknowledging that today’s twenty-first-century leaders face tremendous pressure in an increasingly complex and fast-changing world, where traditional leadership models have become outdated and ineffective.

Systems Inspired Leadership (SIL) is a powerful alternative for modern leaders. Instead of a top-down, leader-knows-all style that results in stress, pressure, and anxiety, SIL offers a fresh, proven approach for achieving optimal results for organizations. With meaningful collaboration at its core, SIL taps the collective wisdom of the system rather than telling people what to do, and builds shared leadership at all levels of the organization.

I recently had a chance to talk to Marita Fidjhorn, co-author of Systems Inspired Leadership, as well as co-owner and CEO of CRR Global and mentor to an ever-growing community of practitioners in the field of relationship systems work. We spent of most of our time going deep on what it takes to “create from the wisdom of the system rather than react”; this is much of what it means to practice systems inspired leadership. Marita is an expert in and is passionate about relationship systems—and asserts strongly that the kind of leadership needed to address today's "wicked problems' requires a deep Relationship Systems Intelligence (RSI), including the vital acknowledgement that "relationship systems are in a constant state of emergence" (one of the 5 RSI principles described in depth in the book).

This episode could have been much longer—Marita and I barely scratched the surface. I encourage any listener interested in the intersection of systems and leadership to have a listen, then read the book for a deeper dive into areas we didn't have time to get to. Here's a little something from the book as an invitation:

“Part of the challenge of being a systems inspired Leader is to hold awareness of the nature and flow of systemic evolution. What wants to be left alone or to be put to rest? What is viable and wants to grow. These are the moments to remember that leadership is a role that belongs to the system".

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Kevin Lindsay

"What is the pattern that connects the crab to the lobster and the primrose to the orchid, and all of them to me, and me to you?" - Gregory Bateson
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