Servant Leadership: Practices
“Context: Study Abstracts on Systems Leadership” (SL#66)
by Lloyd Elder, Th.D., adapted from SkillTrack® 1:3 - Charting Your Course

Study Abstracts: This article strikes out on a different leg of the journey toward servant leadership. It attempts to understand and simply report major concepts of others; it also calls for you to grapple with these insights in the practice of congregational leadership. It really is a serious effort to provide resources that move us together toward enlightened leadership.

Peter Senge focuses on systems thinking within learning organizations of any kind.
Ronald Richardson's family systems is adapted to life and leadership within a congregation.
Peter R. Scholtes gives practical attention to the nature and leadership of systems.

Study Abstract: Systems Thinking as the Fifth Discipline
from The Fifth Discipline: “The Art and Practice of The Learning Organization”
by Peter M. Senge. (Currency Doubleday, New York, 1994)
Abstract prepared by Lloyd Elder

Abstracted from Senge’s book, the following selected concepts present the role of “systems thinking” in living, learning, growing organizations. Applications to servant leaders within a congregation may be drawn by each of us, and they are profound and numerous.

Concept by concept consider how servant leadership, individuals, and teams could apply systems thinking to your congregation.


Study Abstract - Family Systems Approach
from Ronald W. Richardson’s, Creating a Healthier Church: Family Systems Theory,
Leadership, and Congregational Life,
(Fortress Press, Minneapolis, 1996)
Abstract prepared by Lloyd Elder

Glossary--differentiation: Richardson says: “It is equivalent to the biblical concept of wisdom; it has to do with people’s ability to effectively use what they know” (p. 85). [Others define: perceiving a difference, marking a distinction, marking the boundaries.]

Reflection/Application: Reconsider your congregation as “family systems.”


Study Abstract: Leadership Application of Systems Thinking
from The Leader's Handbook: A Guide to Inspiring Your People
and Managing the Daily Workflow
, by Peter R. Scholtes (McGraw-Hill, New York, 1998)
Abstract prepared by Lloyd Elder

In this abstract I have selected to report only four sections from this 400-page handbook--and those are on aspects of systems thinking and leadership.

  1. “What is a system?” (see pp. 21-22)
  1. Systems Thinking at the Core
    Peter R. Scholtes makes a significant claim which is the core of his published finding: “Systems thinking is the heart of twenty-first century leadership. (see pp. 57-59)
  1. Approaches to Systems Thinking (pp. 84-85)
    Scholtes suggests that we can develop systems-minded organizations by backing away from everyday work and asking basic, large-scale, long-term questions, such as:
  1. New Leadership Competencies (from pp. 19-49)
    According to Scholtes, there are six new leadership competencies essential for today's organization managers. Admitting with deepest respect for his legacy from Deming's System of Profound Knowledge; Scholtes sets out with details and examples six new competencies for leadership:

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© 2006; hosted and copyrighted by Lloyd Elder & Associates, Inc.
For full citation of referenced works, see Bibliography/Links at
Adapted by Lloyd Elder, Th.D., Founding Director, Moench Center for Church Leadership