A Systems Approach to Leadership, pt 9: Focus on System, Not Symptom

Written by Mark Van Steenwyk : November 20, 2005

Peter Steinke writes:

When we focus on symptom, we are preoccupied with its cause or relief.  At the same time we are not attentive to the system–the structure, patterns, and processes–behind the symptom.

Symptoms can act as scapegoats within a church–once the symptom is identified and remedied, the church assumes that everything is ok.  But often there are underlying systemic problems which give rise to the symptom.

for further reading . . .

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4 Responses to “A Systems Approach to Leadership, pt 9: Focus on System, Not Symptom”

  1. Gregg on November 22nd, 2005 12:10 pm

    You mean, I can’t just hear about problems in a church and start reeling off potential solutions? Which would mean I have to listen more intently, which would mean I have to tolerate my own rising anxiety that I might not be the expert that I want to be? This might mean that I’m less of a problem-solver in relationships which could mean that there’s a lot of problems swirling around me! I don’t know if I can handle that. Mark, how does Steinke suggest that we move from talking about anxiety tolerance to actually doing it? (Or am I just trying to solve another problem?) More pointedly, how does Steinke tolerate anxiety?

  2. Van S on November 22nd, 2005 12:26 pm

    Good question, Greggor. Steinke writes: “Anxiety provokes change. It prods and pushes us toward innovation or transformation. If, however, it reaches a certain intensity it prevents teh very change it provokes.” Since for Steinke (and probably every other Sytems theorist), anxiety is only damaging when we “lose our cool,” it is all a matter of degree. The key is self-differentiation. By being self-differentiated, we can respond without reacting, and we can mainain calm enough to search for truth and clarity.

  3. JVD on December 1st, 2005 2:16 pm

    Mark -

    Are you on the basic typepad account?


  4. Van S on December 1st, 2005 3:57 pm

    No, I get pro. It costs like $14 a month.

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