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Exploring a Systems View of Leadership

April 12-13, 2019

Guest Scientist: Stephen M. Colarelli, PhD

Leadership emerges within a social system — such as a family, organization or community — when individuals contribute to that system thriving and adapting to emerging challenges. The theme of this conference is to explore leadership as viewed through the lens of science, including evolutionary theory and Bowen family systems theory.

The conference will offer an innovative format for robust engagement between Bowen theory and the work of guest scientist Stephen M. Colarelli, PhD. Dr. Colarelli is widely recognized for his research on leadership within the context of evolutionary biology and organizational psychology. Topics explored include a dialogue between Bowen theory and evolutionary theory, application of Bowen theory to practical leadership challenges, and anxiety and its influence on leadership and adaptability.

The conference will address questions such as:

  • How does the convergence of science and Bowen theory inform leadership functioning in family and organizational systems?
  • How does systems thinking and differentiation of self contribute to a clear definition of leadership? (Example: Allowing a group member to make good decisions about when to follow and when to not follow.)
  • What does Bowen theory have to contribute to the question of how a leader facilitates effective and efficient adaptation to challenge?
  • How might modern evolutionary theory inform a Bowen theory of leadership?
  • What is the evidence of biological mechanism of leadership?
  • What are features of groups/species that adapt successfully vs. those that do not?
  • Are there biological mechanisms of leadership that exist in groups across all forms of life? (Example: Elements within a species that try something new.)
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