The Leadership of Emergence – A Complex Systems Leadership Theory of Emergence

Complexity science reframes leadership by focusing on the dynamic interactions between all individuals, explaining how those interactions can, under certain conditions, produce emergent outcomes. We develop a Leadership of Emergence using this approach, through an analysis of three empirical studies which document emergence in distinct contexts. Each of these studies identifies the same four “conditions” for emergence: the presence of a Dis-equilibrium state, Amplifying actions, Recombination/“Self-organization”, and Stabilizing feedback. From these studies we also show how these conditions can be generated through nine specific behaviors which leaders can enact, including: Disrupt existing patterns through embracing uncertainty and creating controversy, Encourage novelty by allowing experiments and supporting collective action, Provide sense-making and sense-giving through the artful use of language and symbols, and Stabilize the system by Integrating local constraints. Finally, we suggest ways for advancing a meso-model of leadership, and show how our findings can improve complexity science applications in management.


About Giorgio Bertini

Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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