Leadership: from hierarchical to systemic

by Nov 15, 2022Best Practices, Leadership

21st century management is evolving towards systemic leadership. This article invites us to reflect on how to move from hierarchical to systemic.

Today, managers in many organizations are adopting a more systemic vision of leadership. This implies knowing how to carry out three main missions^.

Three missions

  • strategic positioning (guiding and innovating)
  • work organization (structuring and clarifying)
  • performance management (motivation and achievement)

To carry out these three missions successfully, a leader must deal with three paradoxes:

Three paradoxes

Firstly, it must take into account the individual needs of the growing number and diversity of internal and external players, while encouraging the mobilization of collective intelligence. Secondly, it must enable each individual to flourish, while ensuring that performance is maintained. It must reconcile human and economic aspects within the framework of performance management. Thirdly, it must meet the organization’s current needs (short-term) while anticipating its future needs (long-term).

To carry out these three missions and resolve these three paradoxical injunctions, there are three postures, based on twelve key skills:

Three postures

The consultant’s posture

The consultant’s posture aims to clarify and organize the work; it relies on cognitive intelligence and helps resolve the first paradox (individual vs. collective). It requires the following key skills: systemic vision, solution orientation, analytical ability, results orientation.

The coaching posture

The coaching posture is based on emotional intelligence, and enables us to respond appropriately to the second paradox (producing vs. involving). Here, the leader enables each person to use and develop all their resources. To achieve this, he needs to possess these four key skills: feedback, openness, assertiveness and active listening.

The intrapreneurial posture

Finally, the intrapreneurial posture is based on the ability to anticipate and communicate, in other words, on transformational potential. It takes care of short-term needs and objectives, without forgetting the long-term vision, and thus responds to the last paradox (short-term vs. long-term). The key skills of this posture are: anticipation, communication, digital acuity and continuous improvement.


To find out more about our vision of systemic leadership, download our white paper from our home page.

Nicolas Quoëx, co-founder of Skillspotting, gives his views on the evolution of leadership, raises questions and takes a step back to enable managers to play their full part in this metamorphosis. His reflections are based on experience gained from coaching over 250 managers, teams and organizations, and on the analysis of numerous articles and books.