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Systems Leadership: Creating Positive Organisations

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ISBN-13: 978-0566087004
ISBN-10: 0566087006
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Editorial Reviews


'Like most leaders, I have initiated many changes in organizations - some were successful and others were disasters! While the changes may have been ultimately achieved, it was more trial and error, with loss of time, human capital and leadership trust. This book revolutionized my approach to leadership and cultural change. It is a "how-to", providing the requisite roadmap with many practical tools for the leadership tool belt to help transform efficiently any organization. Having worked across several mining and metals industries and in countries from the United States, to Wales and Russia, these tools transcend all cultures providing common, practical people-based concepts that will stay with you for a lifetime. This material is not "rocket science" - it is a refreshing reinforcement of the common sense behaviors all leaders must have to be successful, but may have lost in their search for the "quick fixes" or "silver bullets.' Wayne R. Hale, Senior Vice President, Upstream SUAL-Holding, Moscow, Russia 'I have been eagerly awaiting "Systems Leadership (McDonald. Et. Al)". The theoretical understandings and tools developed by the authors have long been central to my work. "Systems Leadership" however exceeds my expectations. It greatly extends my understanding. While I will use system leaderships as a seminal text as a school leader, I realise anyone fair dinkum about leadership or organisational effectiveness, no matter the size or context of their organisation, will also benefit. I needed this book. I will use it, because I know the material works.' Don Anderson,Tagai State College, Australia 'This work is based on a multitude of practical experiences where the sustainable benefits from implementing the methodology have been very significant . ... Experienced Leaders will recognise much of this material as a good fit with their intuitive understanding of how they have achieved success in the past . The value of this work is the ability to standardise this insight and to develop a new generation of leaders with confidence in a positive outcome both for them and the organisation.' Oscar Groeneveld, Chief Executive , Rio Tinto Aluminium 'This book is a must read for those who want to attain sustainable competitive advantage as the world moves away from industrial relations systems to human relations models. It helps build the prerequisites for an organisation to link its human systems to the business model (and vice versa). CEO's, executives, boards, policy advisors and academics should read it if sustainable productivity improvement is on their agenda. After all, multi factor productivity is ultimately driven by labour productivity. Social process deserves the same degree of rigour that we traditionally apply to science, engineering etc. if we are to achieve the most challenging and rewarding work through proper and ethical concepts of leadership.' David Murray, retired CEO of Commonwealth Bank and Chairman, Future Fund 'Systems Leadership is some of the most important work ever written with respect to understanding and improving organisations and their culture, irrespective of size or type. For those of us in the business of running companies, advising to executive teams or boards, Macdonald provides the ability to predict with absolute certainty the effect of management initiatives, well meaning or otherwise, on the organisations culture and employee relations. It provides a framework for the design of your organisation and people systems. Virgin Blue Airlines, voted Worlds Best low cost airline in 2004 and 2005, continue to use Systems Leadership theories to guide the rapid growth of our business and maintain our unique guest service experience. I cannot recommend the practical importance of this work more highly to those serious about sustaining an effective executive career.' Bruce Highfield, General Manager People and founding executive team member, Virgin Blue Airlines Ltd 'Systems Leadership provides a unique perspective on the social building blocks that need to be put in place for businesses to be positioned to deliver success. It doesn't promise miracles, it provides a framework for leaders to create an environment in which people are encouraged to fully utilise their capabilities to deliver a successful organization. MacDonald et al have refreshingly acknowledged there are no shortcuts or silver bullets to delivering performance. Leaders must understand the world in which they exist and provide appropriate context for the teams they lead. ...don't read this book if you don't have the courage and perseverance to lead change. Our business is people and we will ultimately be measured as leaders by the results people deliver.' Mark Cutifani, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer - CVRD-Inco

About the Author

Dr Ian Macdonald is founder and director of Macdonald Associates, an international organizational development consultancy. Dr Catherine Burke is Professor at the School of Policy Planning and Development, University of Southern California, USA. Karl Stewart has held various management roles including Managing Director of Comalco Smelting (now Rio Tinto).

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 291 pages
  • Publisher: Ashgate Publishing (November 8, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0566087006
  • ISBN-13: 978-0566087004
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 7 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #439,286 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By John Cooke on May 7, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Excellent read. Good balance between theory and practicality. The management approach proffered has successfully underpinned Rio Tinto's management system for more than a quarter century.

Whilst the book is based on Elliott Jaques' studies and theories, it is well tempered by the managerial experience of its authors. The book is annoted with numerous stories of Rio's implementation challenges, and the benefits so derived.

Not necessarily a "How To" book, but full of good management sense backed by conceptual frameworks.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By jw on May 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a very readable and pragmatic book for anyone interested in understanding how people contribute to the organization's ability to act intelligently, learn, and produce results.

The book exemplifies "knowledge for action" in the sense that Chris Agyris used that term. The reader will pick up insights that are immediately useable and lay the groundwork for a powerful gestalt.

The authors focus on how all the puzzle pieces of the organization not only fit together but interrelate. The book is organized so the reader can focus on a particular area of interest, find just enough theory to prepare for a more practical examination, and read about real-world examples. The reader is not bogged down in theoretical details, and does not follow a recipe. Instead, he or she is given enough guidance and freedom to build up knowledge from a personal perspective.

Using a background of Elliott Jaques' stratification theory, the book examines how people interact with situations to accomplish work and produce results, why they succeed or fail, and how and why individual and organizational learning occur (or not).

The book is richly cross-referenced so the individual can examine a concept across topics, and it has an excellent index.

I highly recommend this book for any manager or student of management who is interested in learning organizations, strategy, personnel management, and knowledge management.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Reg O'connell on July 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is well written based on the actual application of the concepts and principles in real businesses and not just a set of ideas cobbled together by consultants for a quick profit or because they seem like a good idea. The content of the book is well proven in practice and it works and the book helps in their learning very effectively.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Patricia Oliver on November 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Rationale, reasoned, practical and practised. Valuable - if not essential - tool for organisational effectiveness, and blows the "flavour of the month" "quick fix" mentality.
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By Geoff on October 29, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I loved Systems leadership, I found the book to be practical and applicable to real life leadership and organisational environments. The book was easy to read which made the information very accessible. This book takes what many leaders know intuitively and systemises it.
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