Seeing wholes: The concept of systems thinking and its implementation in school leadership

Haim Shaked, Chen Schechter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Systems thinking (ST) is an approach advocating thinking about any given issue as a whole, emphasising the interrelationships between its components rather than the components themselves. This article aims to link ST and school leadership, claiming that ST may enable school principals to develop highly performing schools that can cope successfully with current challenges, which are more complex than ever before in today's era of accountability and high expectations. The article presents the concept of ST - its definition, components, history and applications. Thereafter, its connection to education and its contribution to school management are described. The article concludes by discussing practical processes including screening for ST-skilled principal candidates and developing ST skills among prospective and currently performing school principals, pinpointing three opportunities for skills acquisition: during preparatory programmes; during their first years on the job, supported by veteran school principals as mentors; and throughout their entire career. Such opportunities may not only provide school principals with ST skills but also improve their functioning throughout the aforementioned stages of professional development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)771-791
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Review of Education
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2013


  • School leadership
  • School management
  • Systems thinking


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