The Role of Leaders in Complex Systems Change

At MAG, we’ve been talking a lot about how to advance justice in complex systems. The justice leaders we work with are finding that conventional strategies are coming up short in more complex environments. There’s been a shift towards innovative and networked ways to create social change at the systems level. But how?

The Role of Leaders in Complex Systems Change is the second in our Tools for Leading in Complexity series. (In the first tool, Complexity Theory 101, we unpack what we mean by complexity - check that one out first if you aren’t sure.) In this tool, we review the ways of being and thinking that are important for leaders of complex systems change. We also discuss the four roles of leaders in complex systems, how to fulfill those roles, and an example of what those roles look like for one network.

These slides, and the other tools in this series, are a work in progress and co-created with our partners and clients. They were first developed for the Network Leadership Innovation Lab and updated for a webinar with the Cambridge, MA-based Prime Movers program, which supports a community of visionary leaders who inspire change. They were also adapted – with many thanks to Sarita Gupta of Jobs With Justice, who is also a Prime Mover Fellow – to include examples from the Caring Across Generations network. We expect they will change again – let us know what you think in the comments below! 


Image Credit: Prime Movers & dpict