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Systems Leadership

Creating Positive Organisations

Ian Macdonald, Catherine Burke, Karl W. Stewart

Publisher: Gower, 2006 , 291 pages

ISBN: 978-0-566-08700-4


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This book is concerned with how people come together to achive a productive purpose. Human survival has always depended upon our ability to form and sustain social organisations. People have a deep need to be creative and to belong. By creating positive organisations we can fulfil these needs and build a worthwhile society.

Such organisations do not occur by chance; a positive organisation is created by the hard work of leaders and members and influenced by the way the organisation is designed, especially its systems. All this needs to be based on an understanding of sound, general principles of behavior.

This book outlines that work; how to build a positive organisation in terms of general principles and practical examples. Understanding and applying this work requires discipline (not dogma) and creativity. The authors show the significant positive results that can be achieved and detail a range of case studies. Unlike some books which are based on goals, objectives or visions this book concentrates on how this can be achieved. The authors observed and engaged with what good leaders and members actually do and have endeavoured to distil teh essence of productive relationships based on core human values.

Table of Contents:

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    • Introduction: Systems Leadership: What Use Is Theory?
      • Relating theory to practice
      • Language — social and scientific
      • The practical value of good theory
      • People and science
      • Developing a common language
    • Part 1 Principles of Behaviour
      1. Principles of Behaviour
        • Principle 1: People are not machines
        • Principle 2: People need to be able to predict their environments
        • Principle 3: People's behaviour is value based
        • Principle 4: People form cultures based upon mythologies
        • Principle 5: Change is a result of dissonance
        • Principle 6: It is as important to understand social process in detail as it is to understand the detail of technical process
        • Principle 7: Understand the difference between prediction of a population's behaviour and the prediction of an individual's behaviour
        • Principle 8: It is better to build relationships on the basis of authority rather than power
        • Principle 9: Clarity of boundaries is the basis of freedom
    • Part 2 The Nature of Work and Organisations
      1. What is Work?
        • Human work and identity
      2. Human Capability
        • Elements of individual capability
        • So why not include experience, competencies or personality/temperament?
        • Nature or nurture?
        • Caveats
        • Summary
      3. Meritocracy
        • Organisational principles alternative to merit
        • Authoritarian versus democratic organisations
        • Summary
      4. Associations and Employment Hierarchies
        • Associations
      5. The Work of the Board with the Executive Team
        • Determining purpose, policy, systems and strategy
        • Summary
      6. Leadership, Power and Authority
        • Leadership
        • Power and authority
        • Summary
      7. Levels of Work
        • Organising work
        • What is muddled?
        • How are they related?
        • All levels of work are essential
        • Role and person
        • Summary
    • Part 3 Systems Leadership
      1. The Work of Leadership: Creating a Culture
        • The work of leadership
        • The three tools of leadership
      2. Leadership, Policy and Systems
        • The role of policy and systems
        • Tool for analysing systems
        • Summary
      3. Task Formulation and Assignment
        • What are tasks?
        • Human work, tasks and the exercise of discretion
        • People and task assignment
        • Task definition extended
        • Issues in task assignment
      4. Authorities and Role Relationships
        • What is a manager?
        • Manager — subordinate relationships
        • Authorities of the supervisor
        • Role relationships
      5. Key Systems
        • Sources of influence
        • People systems
        • Task feedback and review
        • Performance planning and performance review
        • Performance evaluation
        • Summary of performance evaluation systems
        • Salary administration
        • Identifying and developing potential
        • Succession planning
        • Discipline and appeal
        • Summary
      6. Teams and Teamwork
        • The false duality
        • 'Team' tasks, goals and rewards
        • Team decisions
        • Team processes
        • Summary
    • Part 4 Making Change Happen — Putting Theory Into Practice
      1. The Process of Successful Change: How is it Achieved?
        • Successful change process
        • Summary
      2. Systems and Symbols Audit — Organisational Health Check
        • Analysis of systems, symbols and behaviour
        • Purpose of an audit
        • Audit steps
        • Conclusion
      3. How to Design Systems
        • Significance
        • Complexity
        • Criteria: the 20 questions
        • Practical examples
      4. Creating High Performance Teams
        • Working together
        • The course
        • Cultural relevance
        • Core social process skills for leaders
      5. So What? What Difference Has This Made?
        • Comalco
        • Hamersley Iron
      6. Implementation: Discipline or Dogma?
        • Reviewing content and process
        • Conclusion
      7. Who Is There to Guard the Guards? Essentials of a Positive Organisation
        • Checks and balances
        • The employment charter
        • Foundations for this charter
      8. Complementary Theories and Practices
        • Theories we have used in our own practice
      • Conclusion


Systems Leadership

by Roland Buresund last modified 2012-03-28 01:23

Rating: ******** (Very good)

Firmly grounded in Professor Elliott Jacques' theories, this is something as unusual as a valuable book. It discusses how organisations work and how the people in them interact. And what you can do about changing it.

Definetely recommended reading, even though not an outstanding book.

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