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Bringing a systemic perspective to the processes of leadership and management

Leadership and Management in the Public and Voluntary Sectors: A Systemic Perspective, supports participants in taking a fresh look at their organisation and role – drawing on a range of systemic ideas to thoroughly explore what it means to be an effective leader or manager today. We asked course tutors Karen Partridge and Nana Bonsu to tell us more.

What can you gain by applying systemic ideas to the processes of leadership and management?

For Nana Bonsu and Karen Partridge, it is a journey which can not only enhance your professional toolkit, but also transform the culture of your organisation.

This short CPD course is divided into two modules, and delivered via Zoom. Each module is made up of a mix of formal teaching, group work and experiential exercises, with all activities building towards a highly flexible and applicable theoretical framework, which will help participants to take a deeper look at their organisation and role.

Crucially, there’s a gap between the two modules, which allows participants to go away and undertake a project in their workplace, then come back together to reflect on what’s been learnt. In this way, the course integrates both theory and practice – reinforcing key systemic ideas through their real-world applications: “You’re learning a bit, applying a bit, thinking a bit, reflecting a bit, and then seeing what needs tweaking going forward”, explains Karen.

This approach also ensures that the learning is relevant to each participant’s particular context: “I think it’s really key that we’re able to apply systemic ideas in a way that has meaning, that has fit, and is purposeful”, says Nana. And, by learning more about the dynamics at work within their organisation, and the impact of their own and others’ actions, participants are empowered to effect real change: “That’s a key part of being a leader”, adds Nana. “How do you shape and how do you influence the context around you?”

As well as a range of advanced management and leadership skills, the course also offers the opportunity to develop the capacity for observation and reflexivity – skills which, Karen suggests, are particularly important and timely at the moment, as organisations are called on to interrogate their knowledge base in response to movements such as Black Lives Matter, “and really expand that to include knowledges which have been forgotten, which have not been attended to”.

A row of gold hanging bells.

Karen goes on to describe work she has recently undertaken with a local authority, where she employed the “bells that ring” model of group supervision. This process, rooted in systemic ideas, facilitates observation, reflection and discussion, and draws attention to “what resonates for you” – or the “bells that ring”. 

This approach highlights “the connection with you as a person, as well as you as a professional” – and, in-so-doing, challenges traditional hierarchies, and allows individuals and organisations to create knowledge in a different way, through “a more participative process of becoming”.

The benefits of approaching management and leadership tasks through a systemic lens can be significant. As Nana reflects on her own journey with systemic practice, she notes that it’s supported her “to become a very senior leader in a number of local authorities”, boosting her self-reflexivity, and instilling confidence when moving between domains. “I’ve garnered a lot by applying systemic ideas in a senior context”, she adds. 

Want to learn more about this course?

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If you’re looking to deepen your understanding of management and leadership processes, our short course is suitable for professionals working in the public and voluntary sectors — specifically anyone new to a senior leadership position or existing managers wishing to enhance their skills. To benefit from this course, we ask that you have a basic understanding and knowledge of systemic ideas, which you will be asked to outline as part of your application.

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