2nd Edition

Systems Leadership Creating Positive Organisations

    372 Pages
    by Routledge

    372 Pages
    by Routledge

    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.

    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






    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.

    Reviews of the previous edition:

    'Like most leaders, I have initiated many changes in organizations - some were successful and others were disasters! While the changes may have been ultimately achieved, it was more trial and error, with loss of time, human capital and leadership trust. This book revolutionized my approach to leadership and cultural change. It is a "how-to", providing the requisite roadmap with many practical tools for the leadership tool belt to help transform efficiently any organization. Having worked across several mining and metals industries and in countries from the United States, to Wales and Russia, these tools transcend all cultures providing common, practical people-based concepts that will stay with you for a lifetime. This material is not "rocket science" - it is a refreshing reinforcement of the common sense behaviors all leaders must have to be successful, but may have lost in their search for the "quick fixes" or "silver bullets.' Wayne R. Hale, Senior Vice President, Upstream SUAL-Holding, Moscow, Russia

    'I have been eagerly awaiting "Systems Leadership (McDonald. Et. Al)". The theoretical understandings and tools developed by the authors have long been central to my work. "Systems Leadership" however exceeds my expectations. It greatly extends my understanding.

    While I will use system leaderships as a seminal text as a school leader, I realise anyone fair dinkum about leadership or organisational effectiveness, no matter the size or context of their organisation, will also benefit. I needed this book. I will use it, because I know the material works.' Don Anderson, Tagai State College, Australia

    'This work is based on a multitude of practical experiences where the sustainable benefits from implementing the methodology have been very significant . … Experienced Leaders will recognise much of this material as a good fit with their intuitive understanding of how they have achieved success in the past . The value of this work is the ability to standardise this insight and to develop a new generation of leaders with confidence in a positive outcome both for them and the organisation.' Oscar Groeneveld, Chief Executive , Rio Tinto Aluminium

    'This book is a must read for those who want to attain sustainable competitive advantage as the world moves away from industrial relations systems to human relations models. It helps build the prerequisites for an organisation to link its human systems to the business model (and vice versa). CEO’s, executives, boards, policy advisors and academics should read it if sustainable productivity improvement is on their agenda. After all, multi factor productivity is ultimately driven by labour productivity. Social process deserves the same degree of rigour that we traditionally apply to science, engineering etc. if we are to achieve the most challenging and rewarding work through proper and ethical concepts of leadership.' David Murray, retired CEO of Commonwealth Bank and Chairman, Future Fund

    'Systems Leadership is some of the most important work ever written with respect to understanding and improving organisations and their culture, irrespective of size or type.

    For those of us in the business of running companies, advising to executive teams or boards, Macdonald provides the ability to predict with absolute certainty the effect of management initiatives, well meaning or otherwise, on the organisations culture and employee relations. It provides a framework for the design of your organisation and people systems.

    Virgin Blue Airlines, voted Worlds Best low cost airline in 2004 and 2005, continue to use Systems Leadership theories to guide the rapid growth of our business and maintain our unique guest service experience. I cannot recommend the practical importance of this work more highly to those serious about sustaining an effective executive career.' Bruce Highfield, General Manager People and founding executive team member, Virgin Blue Airlines Ltd

    'Systems Leadership provides a unique perspective on the social building blocks that need to be put in place for businesses to be positioned to deliver success. It doesn’t promise miracles, it provides a framework for leaders to create an environment in which people are encouraged to fully utilise their capabilities to deliver a successful organization. MacDonald et al have refreshingly acknowledged there are no shortcuts or silver bullets to delivering performance. Leaders must understand the world in which they exist and provide appropriate context for the teams they lead.

    ...don’t read this book if you don’t have the courage and perseverance to lead change. Our business is people and we will ultimately be measured as leaders by the results people deliver.' Mark Cutifani, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer - CVRD-Inco