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Leadership styles for cross-system working

Much is written around effective leadership but what kind of leadership is specifically required to support cross-system working?

Lynn Markiewicz

by Lynn MarkiewiczMichael West

10 July 2017


Health and social care teams are working in increasingly complex systems where the types of problems faced are demanding different and varied leadership responses.

In complex systems the most important principle is that leadership meets the needs of the context, i.e. it is adaptive.

An adaptive leadership approach requires the leader, for any given situation, to create the best team to meet the challenges faced and to consciously select the most appropriate leadership style for the situation and for the team.

However, to bring about sustainable change in complex, dynamic environments, the leader needs to be on a journey towards a team-based, collective leadership approach. Where problems are unclear or intractable and the answer unknown, collective leadership involves all team members and others in developing new solutions which work across the whole system.

There are important differences between the ways in which ‘traditional’ leaders and ‘team-centred’ leaders relate to their teams (West & Markiewicz, 2004):

Traditional vs team-centred leadership

For more on leadership context, reflection and preference, see Reflect on leadership style in the Aston Team Journey or call us on 01252 727270 for more information.

See also What role does team based working play in collective leadership? by Lynn Markiewicz and Professor Michael West.

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