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This age challenges leadership. What we need alongside positional leadership are systemic self-managers who understand their own influence in this world.

We talk about “management in a new age”. For me, this mean an attentiveness and the sensitivity to observe the current state of affairs and a strong desire to learn new ways of thinking, feeling and acting. It is a strong presence in the here and now and a simultaneous sensitivity and willingness to move towards a new future. It is self-management and co-guidance through a systemic approach.


It seems that we are in age in which there is a shift from positional leadership to leadership by attitude. In positional leadership, the leadership is based on one’s position in a community. In attitude leadership, it is based on the idea that every thought, emotion or act at this point in time leads to an impact in the system. In other words, each of us leads the situation in which they are right now.

While positional leadership is still required, of course, it is increasingly accompanied with an awareness of the strength of both individual and collective leadership and, at the same time, the responsibility involved:

  • What I choose to think, feel and do as an individual counts, because it leads to an impact of one kind or another. I am the manager of that impact.
  • What we choose to think, feel and do as a community counts, because it leads to an impact of one kind or another. We are the collective manager of that impact.

This means that there are no individuals without communities. And there are no communities without individuals. We can stop debating about which is more important – both matter. An awareness of this, and acting accordingly in everyday life, is systemic leadership.


There is a lot of talk these days about managing oneself. Some of us seize the word “self” first, focusing on their personal campaign of discipline or liberty. While this is a good start, it won’t get you very far. So it might be a good idea to first think about your ideas of it. I’ve posed this question to a number of coaching customers over the years and am now presenting it to you as well:

  • What would systemic self-management entail?

Do not continue reading immediately. Instead, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths while you think about your own answer. After that, you can reflect on it in light of the following few thoughts that have been brought up in customer situations:

  • Lead yourself to others. Self-management is not an ego trip.
  • I take place in relation to others.
  • If you want to manage yourself effectively, do not manage (solely) yourself.
  • Competence is a team sport, and courage especially so.
  • A key idea is the skilful balance of an individual and a community. This balance could be called systemic self-management or the play of being and doing.
  • You may notice that if you approach self-management systemically, it is not only about the self. Rather, the individual and communal perspectives are intertwined.


Systemic self-management also allows for the conscious influencing of the workplace community. This can yield the following benefits:

  • I am calmer and have a better focus on what is relevant.
  • I am present for others and promote cooperation. That is why I achieve more and of a better quality.
  • The community’s atmosphere is inspiring, which generates success and well-being.
  • Our meetings are purposeful and energising. We commit to what we have agreed together.
  • We can discuss even challenging issues with each other.
  • I no longer work in the evenings, but go for walks instead.
  • I sleep better, my thoughts are clearer and I listen to other with an open mind.

You can think about the kind of influence you would like to effect within your own community. As Simon Sinek saysWhat are the games you are playing? Are you trying to win here and now, or are you trying to ensure a team play that benefits everyone?  You can evaluate your own systems intelligence and get more ideas by completing the Systems Intelligence Self Evaluation of Aalto University.

Once we begin to have a more conscious understanding of the way in which our own actions impact our environment, we have stepped into the realm of management in a new age and systemic learning. The new age is calling for us all, with only management positions open.

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