Sam Bates, Junior Consultant, reviews the recent Development Day hosted by Tricordant. The topic of the day was on ‘Systems Leadership / Systemic Leadership – the same or different?’ Sam reflects on the day and how it framed his learning.


The phrases Systems Thinking and Systemic Thinking are often used. But what do people mean when they refer to these terms? At our recent Development day, we aimed to explore their meaning. The Development day was framed around three fantastically led sessions;


  1. Systems leadership in the NHS – at a glance.


Facilitated by Caroline Chipperfield, Director of the Thames Valley and Wessex NHS Leadership Academy, this session was on understanding the NHS as system not an organisation, it’s challenges and how it defines and uses systems leadership.

The sheer complexity of the wider NHS system made me further appreciate some of the difficulties in leading a system that operates across geo-political boundaries with what can sometimes feel like regularly changing “flavour of the month” strategies. I was fascinated by the importance of relationships and how they can move beyond organisational boundaries and utilise their influence as a more effective change agent over and above traditional hierarchical power.


  1. Reframing Tribal Systems


Facilitated by Paul Anthony & Carol Campayne of Diversity Practice, this session was framed on ‘Mapping Professional Tribal Affiliations’ and exploring their relevance to Health and Social Care.

For me, my learning was inspired by Seth Godin’s definition of a tribe; “a group of people connected to a cause, connected to a leader (or collection of leaders) and connected to each other. A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.” I learnt that by using a tribal lens we can become more aware of the different tribes that we are working with in the system. This gives a valuable insight into the dynamics at play and highlights where there may be common ground, who gets included or left out of the tribe and what behaviours are rewarded or discouraged.


  1. Leadership System Development – a case study


Facilitated by Roger Greene & John Taylor of Tricordant, this last session was a case study on a project for a County Council. The project was to develop and equip the OD team with a leadership strategy and implementation plan to create the right leadership system by transforming how they operate as an organisation. The individual and organisational capabilities of leadership were established along with a tool to help the client explore what a leadership system is. This was followed by an implementation road map.


A key theme that emerged for me was that the value of appreciating and understanding the systems in which we work, supports our ability to serve our clients and the wider system they operate in.


Tricordant Development days are a collection of interactive sessions on emerging hot topics in the world of Organisational Design & Development consultancy. The sessions are led by members of our organisation, our associates, partners, friends and wider networks. Discussions that develop are open, honest and insightful resulting in valued collective learning. If you would like to find out more, or attend one of our Development days, please contact Sam Bates at