Giving voice to the system

Photo by S&B Vonlanthen on Unsplash


Systemic awareness is a must if we want to restore vitality to our individual or organisational systems. 

If we want to thrive, we need to look beyond the symptom and into the system and its underlying dynamics. 

A few weeks ago I got an invitation to speak at the Digitalisation and Development of HR in the Power & Utilities Sector Online Interactive Forum. It came as a surprise to me, but also as a recognition to the work I have been doing. When I saw the speakers list comprised of HR Directors and Managers of the largest companies in Europe in the sector, the curls of my hair straightened. My heart started pumping harder and my breath became shallow. Pressure was building up on the inside and showing visibly on the outside as my mind was racing: “What can I tell these people that they haven’t heard of before?”


I have been doing systemic high-performance individual and team coaching in the past few years only to witness amazing results of inertia turning into motivation, stuckness turning into movement, difficulty with leadership turning into visionary leadership, conflict turning into understanding, disengagement turning into motivation and other challenging symptoms and behaviours that we face in the world we live in and work in, turning into vitality and high performance.

Then I thought, I also cured cancer in my body last year with the same methodology. So, my decision was made.

After a careful 2.5 hours of thinking, writing, crossing over words, writing again, crossing over again… I finally came up with the title of my presentation: The Human Capital: Outside In and Inside Out. I was to explain the fusion that I have created between Systemic Coaching and High Performance Individual and Team Coaching. How by looking beyond the symptom, into the structure of the system and its dynamics, we can cure the symptom and restore energy and vitality into the whole system – individual, team or whole organisation.

Usually when challenging symptoms and problematic behaviours arise we get entangled into the content. And at content level we cannot solve anything! Working only at the level of the symptom we might be able to remove it, but the dynamic belongs to the system and will simply reemerge or be expressed through someone or something else. Therefore we need to look beyond, into the structure, to see the bigger picture.

Now, the structure reveals the dynamic of the system – the order, the position of the parts, their respective role and their interaction patterns. Systems have a life of their own which is a sum of all the interactions between the parts. Each part is connected and influencing the other. There are spoken and unspoken rules of belonging, hidden loyalties, patterns, coping mechanisms and entanglements that influence the system outside in and inside out. Because most of the time these are unconscious patterns, we need to address them as such and invite them to emerge on the surface.

Unfortunately, with our linear and narrow left brain thinking that predominates in the world and especially in the business world, interventions usually focus on symptomatic quick fixes, not the underlying cause. We pop a pill and the pain is gone… shoot the messenger, or better temporary paralyse it. They produce a temporary relief, but the dynamic of the system remains and will show up again.

System dynamics are beyond the rational interventions and they need to be addressed by systemic interventions. We need to add the capacity of our right brain, the one that sees the whole and recognises the patterns. We need to allow the underlying dynamic to emerge, because it wants to be first acknowledged and accepted and only then, transformed with an intervention to create a lasting change and vital system.

So, I invite you for a moment to explore belonging and hidden loyalties in one of the systems to which you belong – it can be your work system, your family system or a social system. Feel for a moment what insights the following questions bring to you:

  • “What do I have to do here, in this system, in order to belong here?”
  • “In which particular way do I have to behave in order to belong here?”
  • “What role do I have in this system that makes me a valuable part of it?”

Sense as you ask these question if there is something that is not being said, if there are hidden rules of belonging. What are the rules for inclusion and those for exclusion?

Plato said: “The part can never be well, unless the whole is well”

Would you like to become a better leader by looking at your own systemic dynamics, uncovering how they affect your behaviour and your work?

Do you want to create lasting change by uncovering and addressing the hidden dynamics that create conflict and stuckness in your team, and bring back vitality and motivation?

Get in touch, I am happy to help!