Weaving’: the differentiator between system-leaders and generic leaders

There is a high-order of leadership that is available to you as a CEO.

Recently, I did a test that assessed my ability to handle complexity.

It comes from a school of thought called ‘Levels of Work, the premise behind which is to match the extent of one’s challenge to one’s capability. An obvious but very important consideration in driving human performance.

My result put me at a level where ‘weaving’ was named as being my core competence.

I’d never before heard this word used in a business context, but it instantly made complete sense to me as it’s a perfect word to describe what CEOs do: connecting, linking, shaping, nudging, prompting, provoking.

System-leadership is different to generic leadership in that it tethers the system-leader to their system: the CEO to their business. Not at the org-chart level, but at a level of deep interconnectedness; the business being seen as the full and complete manifestation of the CEO.

It takes courage to be a system-leader as there is no place to hide: the quality of your business reflect the quality of you. But it also promises incredible optionality that is not available to more orthodox CEOs.

To describer system-leaders in a little more detail, I would offer that they:

  • recognise the interconnectedness of disparate elements
  • are curious about causality
  • have the ability to ‘sense’ things that aren’t visible
  • are intrigued by the concept of performance
  • are growth-orientated when it comes to self-development
  • find loss of performance an intellectual challenge
  • value creativity as a path to innovation

The CEO Project focus will become increasingly system-leadership focused in the future and I will put more practical examples to system-leadership in time as the above might feel a little overly-conceptual at face value.

But hang with me on this journey.

Because building the craft of a system-leader encompasses all the upside, the joy, the performance that I have been writing about in these pages for the past three years.

Instead of living a mechanical business-leadership existence, your CEOship might well become the key that unlocks great personal and professional riches.

With my very best wishes from Wyoming, where the last week has offered incredible views of the Grand Tetons, a rodeo, my kids riding a mechanical bull, huge bison grazing a matter of meters away, American patriotism in full voice, moose, elk and delicious local craft beer.

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My weekly missive, CEO Sundays, is published at 5pm every Sunday evening. The writings cover CEO topics exclusively: how-to’s; thought starters; leadership insights; reflection opportunities; research.

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