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Transforming Leadership: The Emergence of Systems Leadership to Address Complex, Multidimensional Challenges (E)

Stream: Transforming Leadership and Governance

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), each represent complex multi-dimensional challenges. Achieving progress on these goals requires a different approach from the traditional hierarchical and linear methodologies to implementing transformation. Instead, it requires innovative and adaptive approaches that engage broad groups of distinct stakeholders to advance progress toward a shared vision for systemic change. This approach is called systems leadership.Although systems leadership is still in an early stage of development, it offers a potentially valuable tool for addressing the complex, multi-dimensional challenges. Insights gained from recent initiatives suggest that systems leaders need to develop and apply three key capabilities: their understanding of the system that shapes the challenge they seek to address; their ability to champion and support collective action among relevant stakeholders; and their ability to listen, learn and lead towards coordination and empowerment. Systems leadership can therefore be described as comprising of three components including the individual, the community and the system. Starting with an introduction to systems leadership and a recent case study, I will then shift to the audience, and invite comments, questions, insights, and to share experiences with others. Systemic change needs to be a dynamic, inclusive ongoing process. The most resilient systems are those that can quickly identify and respond to society’s challenges. It follows then that systems leadership provides the common ground for building and maintaining resilient, sustainable societies that can keep learning, adapting and transforming in pursuit of increased prosperity, towards a brighter sustainable future for everyone.

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