Systems Leadership : Creating Positive Organisations book cover
2nd Edition

Systems Leadership
Creating Positive Organisations

ISBN 9781138036574
Published May 21, 2018 by Routledge
372 Pages

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Book Description

The new edition of this influential and bestselling book is concerned with how people come together to achieve a productive purpose. Survival and success in business and social terms have 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. One of the failures of organisations is precisely the lack of efficient and effective social organisation, which is what this whole book is about. Poor social organisation, including poor leadership, are major drivers of poor productivity and lead people to give up or retreat into a minimalist approach of just doing what is needed to get by and survive.

The authors provide a language for developing, discussing, thinking and working with propositions about organisations and management. They do not tell you what decision to make but rather present tools to help you consider, analyse and predict the consequences of your decisions.

This new edition is much broader in its application areas – public, private and not-for-profit sectors. It contains new models and propositions with regard to types of social organisation, domains of work and the nature and use of authority. It contains a range of new case studies, and throughout looks at how these ideas can be used to achieve an organisation’s purpose while encouraging creative working. It is not a book about fads or fashion but an integrated approach that offers the user the benefit of foresight.

Table of Contents

Preface to 2nd Edition



Part 1: Systems Leadership: Why the Title?

Introduction to Part 1

Chapter 1 What Use is Theory?

Chapter 2: What is Work?

Chapter 3: Social, Technical, Commercial Domains of Work

Chapter 4: Social Process and Authority

Chapter 5: Types of Social Organisation


Introduction to Part 2

Chapter 6: The Six Principles of Behaviour


Introduction to Part 3

Chapter 7: Meritocracy

Chapter 8: Human Capability

Chapter 9: Levels of Work Complexity

Chapter 10 Organisational Structure and Authority

Chapter 11 Associations, Boards and Employment Hierarchies

Part 4 The Work of Leadership

Introduction to Part 4

Chapter 12 The Work of Leadership: Creating a Culture

Chapter 13 Leadership, Policy and Systems

Chapter 14 Task Formulation and Assignment

Chapter 15 Teams and Teamwork


Introduction to Part 5

Chapter 16 The Process of Successful Change: How is it Achieved?

Chapter 17 How to Design Systems

Chapter 18 Systems and Symbols Audit – Organisational Health Check

Chapter 19 Creating High Performance Teams

Chapter 20 So What? What difference has this Made?

      County Court of Victoria

      Torex Gold


      Mental Health

      Leadership in Combat

Chapter 21: Discipline or Dogma

Chapter 22 Who is There to Guard the Guards? Essentials of a Positive Organisation

Chapter 23 SLT and Other Approaches





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Dr Ian Macdonald is Founder and Director of Macdonald Associates, an international organisational consultancy. He is a director of BIOSS International Ltd. He is also an honorary fellow at Brunel University, teaches at Surrey Business School and works with NHS Wales and Welsh government.

Dr Catherine Burke was Associate Professor of Public Administration, University of Southern California. Her research focuses on organisation and systems design, management theory and leadership. She has been a consultant to Southern California Edison, the cities of Los Angeles and Pasadena, and the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment. Her publications include Innovation and Public Policy, and articles in various academic journals. She was a director at Commonwealth Aluminum.

Karl Stewart is a mining engineer spending most of his working life in leadership positions. He spent four years as an internal managerial consultant developing a thorough understanding of the theory underpinning the leadership of people in organisations and the systems that facilitate that activity. He implemented these ideas as Managing Director of Comalco Smelting.