System Leadership


Power is a permanent presence in organisational settings. In most instances, however, it is either bracketed off from our workplace understanding and discussions – or it is pointedly disregarded, despite its obvious influence on our day to day experience.

With the increasing focus on working in systems, it seems all the more relevant to speak about power and the way in which it arises from (and gives shape to) our work setting. Indeed, it seems reasonable to say that, without this open and candid recognition of power, there can be no new conversations between everyone – from staff at the front line through to senior leaders – in terms of finding ways of working differently.

This one-day workshop seeks to give participants the opportunity to speak about power openly. It allows attendees to explore the whole notion of power in depth, the better to be able to work differently as a leader where they work. It recognises that power both shapes – and is shaped by – every one of us in work, with some being more personally mindful of that interaction than others.

The workshop artfully combines helping people to bring forth meaningful reflections on their lived experience along with contemporary thinking on power in a workplace context. This combination of practice and theory is usefully overwritten by the idea of working effectively in health and social care systems, in order that participants can carry away from the workshop effective personal commitments to unpacking power when they get back to work.

This session sits amongst our work that seeks to explore the whole question of individual presence in a system – and so should be seen as a companion piece to our flagship workshop on speaking truth to power, entitled Speaking Up, Listening Up.

We offer Unpacking Power as both an open programme and as an intervention for work groups in systems where power needs to be acknowledged in order to support collaboration and close working in pursuit of a shared purpose.

Dr Mark Cole works at the NHS London Leadership Academy, where he supports health and care staff from ward to Board and across the capital to understand and put into practice systems leadership and organisation development.

Although originally trained as a teacher, his career has been largely spent in workforce and OD roles in the health care sector. This includes working for a number of NHS Trusts in a range of settings along with six years spent as Education Adviser at the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, a professional body. He is a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development (CIPD).

Mark is especially interested in leadership practice, organisational development and systems thinking – and specifically in the way in which these interface. He has written on these topics in several academic journals and his book entitled “Radical Organisation Development” will be published by Routledge in September 2019.

Mark completed his professional doctorate in education at the University of Greenwich in October 2012, where his thesis was concerned with the theory and practice of professional reflection. More recently he completed the PG Cert in Organizational Change Management at the University of Southampton.

Page last reviewed: 26 May 2021