To succeed in an uncertain world, lead with a systemic vision of the future (PART I)
By #ebbfmember DI Kambiz Poostchi
The accelerated change in the existing social and organisational structures creates fears and doubts. Change is associated with a loss of old values and beloved habits. What if retreating into the cocoon of ancient thought and action was not the right way forward and how can we feel more comfortable with an evolving mindset and new habits making us more future-ready?
A mindful attitude would ensure that we see problems as symptoms allowing us to discover the emergence of a promising future below the surface of the current crises. We are witnesses to how an outdated system comes to an end because a new world wants to emerge — metaphorically comparable to a caterpillar that wants to come to life as a butterfly.
Society and economic systems are experiencing a comprehensive transformation worldwide. Experts speak of the “biggest system transformation in history”. Old order systems are dissolving and the signs of new, sustainable models are becoming increasingly clear. In this transition phase of a twin process, old structures go through a gradual dissolution, while the new paradigm noticeably gains strength and influence and becomes increasingly effective.
Today’s challenges are systemic in nature and cannot be overcome with traditional methods and piecemeal thinking. The conventional thinking patterns, which are at the root of our problems today, are unable to contribute to useable and lasting solutions. They tend to continue to see the old in the new and to rely on “proven reflexes”, which turn out to be radically wrong. Without a systemic level change, one sticks to the symptoms without orienting and being aware of increasingly complex realities.
Leaders are living in a contradiction
Many leaders have not yet adapted to the necessary internal structural change and continue as if they were dealing with the same one or two hundred old models and system elements.
As a result, much of what has worked well so far and is based on tradition that no longer brings the expected successes today.
In order to recognise the shift and atune accordingly what is required is an external view, a meta-perspective.
But as long as you are part of a closed system yourself, you cannot discover the actual cause of the crises and possibly reinforce the traditional behaviour patterns and thus exacerbate the entropical dissolution process.
It takes the vision and courage of exemplary pioneers and leaders who break away from the spider web of outdated models and meet the demands of the future to embrace and co-create the new.
This can certainly mean a painful path before a new order system with comprehensive principles and its own new logic emerges as a result of a redesign of the critical variables.
In such transition processes representatives of the traditional model of thought often see the changes as a threat to their proven values and react with contradiction and resistance. If you suddenly tell such a person that their recipe for success is no longer valid, their personal experience is punishing this diagnosis. The path to convince them is hard. It is material for classic tragedies.
Change of leadership
The paradigm shift required, therefore needs a challening change in leadership; it must meet the peculiarities and necessities of the evolving internal order.
The unstable structure of hierarchical systems is subjected to a hard test when members develop from the level of dependence towards independence and self-responsibility.
Traditional culture often has no answer to this, and increasing pressure, fear and control creates the opposite effect. Conflict resolution and crisis management subsequently become the all-dominant instruments of leadership, which is increasingly losing trust and competence.
If the evolutionary development on the part of the participants is not recognised in time and a systematic structural and cultural change initiated towards greater involvement of all system members, crisis developments are unavoidable.
Those responsible must learn to say goodbye to the grotesque and one-dimensional distorted image of man as homo economicus, whose nature is driven by greed, envy and unrealistic economic profit maximisation.
The pathological image of the much-vaunted ideal type of flexible man, who sacrifices his identity, his values, his family and relationships to a career addiction and pays for it with the erosion of his character, has long been outdated.
The world of tomorrow will not be governed by money, as many want us to believe, but will be characterised by elementary humanity.
Immeasurable human performance potentials in intelligence, creativity, willingness to cooperate and innovation lie idle as long as the human being is not put at the centre of attention according to its true nature.
This means a quality of leadership that is based on inviolable human dignity with the basic need for belonging and appreciation, meaning and open-minded identity. Authenticity and co-responsibility, cooperation and initiative become fundamental elements. Wherever these core systemic principles are disregarded, the development leads to a flood of existential emptiness. It creates resignation, disenchantment, withdrawal and fluctuation, where individuals as well as organisations and societies can break.
Traditionally companies are strongly focussed on individuals and their personal skills and potentials. As valuable and important as this effort is, one should not ignore a view to the future, the possibilities of integrative learning in real teams and the aspect of systemic maturity development and socialisation.
In his remarkable book Der Teil und das Ganze Werner Heisenberg argues that “science arises in conversation”. It provides examples of how the interaction of very different people can ultimately lead to scientific results of great importance. In it, the author vividly describes a plethora of conversations that he has had in the course of his life individually or in groups with Pauli, Einstein, Bohr, Planck and other great scientists who have mastered the development history of modern physics in the first half of the 20th century. A century decisively determined.
Learning has always been a collective enterprise and the researching subject perhaps only a fiction or a myth, says Linz science theorist Gerhard Fröhlich from the Johannes Kepler University Linz.
It is therefore all the more incomprehensible that a personalisation of learning is carried out in our organizations. This raises the question of what type of learning and training models we want to offer for the future: socially isolated lone fighters in competition or socially competent team players in interdisciplinary knowledge linking?
How fast organizations open up to a greater involvement of teamwork and an evaluation of team results, probably depends on the extent to which they define themselves. Not limiting a definition of successful learning to imparting pure factual knowledge and the promotion of individual professional competence, but also the promotion of systemic competences, including self- and social competence, to be integrated as part of training.
As the results of modern brain research prove, we do not master social, cooperative behaviour, like many others, from birth, but learn it in the course of our lives. Education and guidance are just as necessary as models and mentors.
The dynamic complexity of this cooperative learning process also results from the peculiarity of our identity on several levels of being.
We experience ourselves not only as a physical species in a material environment, but also as a mental-emotional personalities in social exchange with other people in the network of evolutionary social structures. We draw meaning and belonging from our spiritual reality.
Life is primarily about relational experiences with other people and society as a comprehensive whole. To consider the human being as an individual is a fiction and leads to a distorted image of human reality.
Socialisation as a goal of systemic maturity development
“The individualism and egocentricity that we see at the moment are neuro-biologically a wrong development … The individual can only live in the short term at the expense of others. But it is not about short-term successes, but about long-term success.” Gerald Hüther, Neurobiologe
Human systems such as individuals, organisations or communities go through a cyclical development process along the continuum of systemic maturity evolution, analogous to the stages of childhood, adolescence and maturity in the individual.
The transition from each phase to another represents a revolutionary change in values, principles and possibilities.
Laws and rules that were valid for one level give way to new ones. Expanded potential skills and new opportunities open up.
This change is not always perceived as pleasant by the participants, as it means the removal of old habits and the promotion of new qualities.
In a coherent and comprehensive world view, we recognise how every living system, every organism goes through the successive phases of evolution and goes through a systemic maturation process from the level of dependence (dependence) to the level of independence and independence (independence) to the level of systemic maturity (interdependence).
Social systemic learning
As an essential part of a world of systems, we humans are involved in an ongoing process of deeper understanding of the the environments where we operate.
As a result, we are increasingly learning to tune ourselves to our environment and to achieve harmony with the guiding principles and laws of the wider communities. However the goal should not be detached factual knowledge, but systemic grasping of relationships and contexts, i.e. social systemic learning.
Awareness and cognitive ability are just as much a prerequisite for solidarity and belonging as for decision-making and initiative.
As humans, we have the potential for a multidimensional reflexive consciousness.
Due to developed self-awareness, we can grasp connections and position ourselves in the world as well as influence what surrounds us in a shaping way.
We are able to anticipate the consequences of our own actions in the longer term, even in more complex contexts.
We not only gain an awareness that perceives the outside world, we also perceive ourselves in social interaction. That means responsibility.
In doing so, we go through different phases of life with quite different forms of consciousness, effectiveness and relationship to the community.
As newborns with a strong attachment to the caregivers,
as a child focussed on our own world, because there seems to be nothing else but this.
As an adolescent in the search for identity,
as adults in social responsibility for our own family and also for the community to which we feel part of.
These cyclical changes mean that we are in a constant dynamic adaptation and learning process in the social environment.
Recent findings in neurobiology and brain research in particular show that cooperation and social behaviour can and must also be learned. Learning cooperation is like learning a language. It must be practised and rewarded if it is to lead to integrated habits in adulthood and maturity in character and personality development.
Above all, the basic structures of social, emotional and mental competence with the underlying values and life principles are characterised much more by the social environment and the early childhood bond of the child to the caregivers than by the genetic predisposition.
The structure and function of the human brain are particularly optimised for tasks that can be summarised under the term “psychosocial competence”.
As brain researchers find, our brain is therefore not only a mental body but also a social body.
“The best way to learn the rules of the game is to play. However, this is by no means about the game table and board, but about giving children and young people responsibility in small areas, especially for others and in small groups, so that they learn what it means to balance claims, to decide together and to support the decision as a community even if you were actually against it yourself, etc. Just as you only learn to speak in a language community through speaking and understanding, you only learn social behaviour in a community, in and with which you can and can act. Cooperation is learned playfully, but the game does not mean man, don’t get angry or Monopoly. It means living together! And it’s not a game.” (Manfred Spitzer, 2003)
People are social beings, but not automatically.
Systemic maturity evolution and social learning succeed best if you are given the opportunity to develop close, safe and firm bonds with as many other people as possible with very different abilities, ideas and talents.
Communities whose members feel closely connected, in which everyone values each other and their special abilities, and trust and belonging are conveyed, form the best basis for complex personality and character development.
They thus promote a breathtaking increase in mental, emotional, social and mental competences. The more the sense of togetherness is developed, the better it develops the skills and abilities of the members within the framework of the community, the more stable social structures are created.
A community is stable and mature when it is developed in such a way that the individual wants for himself what is also useful to the whole that carries and maintains him. Successful organizations, develop the awareness that the well-being of each individual member of a community depends on the well-being of all.
We need communities that enable individuals to experience themselves as a valuable, valued and indispensable member of this whole.
Fragmented entities, competing interest groups or groups forced together by coercion, raw competition, hardship or fear, on the other hand, are not useful communities.
Highly complex, multi-layered networked and life-capable personalities and social systems cannot be exploited when the pressure is a negative one of scarcity.
Primary coping strategies result in deficiency, competitive thinking and entrenched programs that determine the entire further thinking, feeling and acting of the people concerned. It robs them of their true identity, undermines their human dignity and blocks their self-efficacy.
Emotionally connected communities are integrative relationship spaces.
Through the indwelling spirit of connectedness and togetherness, they convey the social space of experience that is necessary for cooperation and systemic maturity development to flourish harmoniously.
Not only do they create the breeding ground for internal healthy balance and interaction, but they also promote strengthening exchange and growing harmony with other social systems in their expanded environment.
Reference and model individuals can have a great role to ensure that people in the organization experience an environment of unrestricted belonging and strong security. This in turn promotes their system competence in the process of socialisation by experiencing connection and appreciation within the framework of the team.
When people practically experience how beneficial it can be to operate in an environment based on basic trust and belonging as well as respect for human dignity, they develop a much stronger self-esteem and an openness to cooperation and commitment.
In doing so, they learn not to derive their independence and identity from the opposition and contradiction to others. They do not have to be trained as lone fighters and competing egoists in order to then experience the inadequacy of such antisocial behaviour through effort and pain, with all the damage to the individual and society.