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Week 2: Managing Context. Executive Sessions: Systems Leadership with Stanford GSB Lecturer, Robert Siegel – Hosted by SAPs New Ventures & Technologies

In our first week’s blog post (Executive Sessions: Systems Leadership. Leading through uncertainty) we spent a lot of time thinking introspectively. This week, we expanded our discussion to look more broadly at the importance of managing the context of change, both within the company, and the outside pressures thrusting change upon leaders – Three things to keep in mind:

Truth = facts + context

Supporting people around you to buy-in to your perspective and vision for change means being able to paint a picture with data and facts, but also articulating this in terms of which can be fully understood. A leader shared that part of building trust is speaking the same “language,” and highlighted the importance of learning the “camp stories” of the company, the ethos that connects the employees and customers to the brand. As another leader shared, “Trust can come from keeping teams focused on the key pillars of the organization differentiation; try to help your teams and colleagues to cut through all of the clever ideas and stay focussed on those that really move the needle for your company.”

Managing context means building trust. 

Understanding your constituencies is a function of your strategy for change. Identify those blockers and supporters, and build trust that will support you to deliver your plan for change before you waste energy on executing without permission. As one leader shared, “Driving transformation is a battle of tug-of-war between short-term fixes, vs. long-term change. Having trust from your alliances and relationships around the organization will support you to push transformational efforts to the top of the agenda.”

Let people put their superpowers to work.

Another leader shared the importance of strategic hires; of having people on the team who have experienced what it feels like to live and work in the future you’re trying to build. Managing context, and building trust is important and is the path toward driving change. Helping to manage context for your change-agents will create the space they need to practice their superpower and generate impact.

In the end, thinking more broadly about the secondary and tertiary impact of change can help us to think less linearly about the impact of our efforts. Adopting a systems-thinking approach will support you to recognize impediments, identify opportunities for leverage, accelerate and improve the likelihood of your goals. Some questions for reflection:

  • How well are you managing context in your company, who are the key stakeholders and constituencies you must be aware of and manage?
  • What is the key context that your company is not managing externally? How is that going to cascade, and how are you going to manage it?

Introducing SAPs NVT Executive Sessions: Systems Leadership with Stanford GSB Lecturer, Robert Siegel.


With society and business-facing an unprecedented level of global disruption, the time for us to all to be better connected, and empowered to deal with uncertainty and complexity is now. Hosted by SAPs New Ventures & Technology group, this Executive Sessions Series, focussed on Systems Leadership, creates a casual, and open connection and community for technology executives from SAPs ecosystem, including leaders from some of the worlds leading consumer goods, energy, manufacturing, technology, and retail brands.

Facilitated by Stanford GSB Lecturer Robert Siegel, and SAPs Chief Innovation Officer, Max Wessel, this five-week series guides leaders through crafted case-studies, and discussion to apply insights to real-world situations. In these blog posts, we will share insights to help you better understand, not just what leaders are experiencing, but the approaches to leading through uncertainty and complexity – to read more posts in this series, follow me, or click on the NVTExecSessions tag

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