Goodlives GM supports leaders working to tackle inequalities to name and shift system barriers.


Why system leadership development?

There is no shortage of energy, ambition or leadership expertise in Greater Manchester. Yet leaders consistently identify the same barriers in their work to reduce inequalities. They remain stubbornly hard to shift.

No single person or organisation or sector can shift system barriers on their own. Together, we can grow new cultures and structures that nurture the community-led innovation we need to reduce inequalities across Greater Manchester.

What is GoodLives GM doing to develop system leadership ?

The GLGM System Shifting Leadership Collaborative.

Six teams from across health and social care, local authorities, the VCFSE sector and the Combined Authority are taking part in a new kind of leadership collaboration. Supported through 1-1 and group coaching, workshops, learning materials and webinars, teams conduct system-shifting experiments to rebuild structures and cultures that are barriers to their work to reduce inequalities.

Webinar 1 - What does it really take to shift systems?

Our first webinar, What does it really take to shift systems?, will explore why system barriers are so hard to shift and what we are learning about the roles of structure and culture in holding systems in shape. Unfortunately, this webinar recording it no longer available, but please take a look at the learning resources below to explore some of the content discussed.

Learning Materials

The Water of System Change is actually written for philanthropic funders and is designed to help them think through investment decisions. But it captures and summarises for everyone some of the key challenges that we face when we try to shift systems – and what might explain these. If you’re short of time pages 1-5 will give you plenty of food for thought.

Take a look at the GM Moving in Action Strategy. Page 33-41 tell the story of GM Moving’s recent participatory strategy refresh and summarises the bold ambition that has been developed as a result. And this 3-minute video clip on YouTube gives a real sense of the vibrant culture and brilliant engagement that are hallmarks of GM Moving.

This Living Well 2023 learning report explores how by nurturing new forms of local collaborative system leadership, we can begin to make the necessary and urgent shifts from mechanistic systems to more relational responses that enable people to live the life they choose. Pages 12-15 offers a particularly helpful analysis on this system shift.

The Living Well teams striving to shift from mechanistic to relational systems recorded a number of intimate and revealing podcast conversations about the tensions that underpin our mental health systems – each unique perspective uncovers layers of structures and cultures making this shift hard. We highly recommend “Where do we place our trust?” to start off.

Webinar 2 - Change the story, change the system, with Frameworks UK

The second webinar from the GoodLives GM System Shifting Leadership Collaborative welcomed our first expert contributor to the series – FrameWorks UK.

This webinar will show that how we frame issues can lead to radical differences in our ability to shift thinking – and so, shift systems.

The webinar covered: what is framing and why it matters in your work, the mindsets that we’re up against in seeking social progress, and practical examples of how we can reframe issues to overcome obstacles.

The session content is based on 10 years of empirical research into how to frame a range of social issues in the UK from poverty and homelessness, and from health inequalities to early childhood.

The webinar was led by Kate Stanley, Executive Director at FrameWorks UK.

Learning Materials

What is framing? Look at this short explanation of framing on FrameWorks UK website, and this example of how reframing poverty brought about real world change.

Moving Mindsets: How to Shape a Strategy We recommend taking a look at this paper on how reframing can help bring about systems change Moving Mindsets: How To Shape A Strategy – it’s based on research in the US, but the principles apply here.

Webinar 3 - Leading with our 'head, heart and hands' on race inequality

This webinar dives into what we really mean when we talk about our shared ambition to ‘tackle inequalities’ in GM, with a focus on systemic racism. Some of the key questions we’ll explore are: How are unequal outcomes and opportunities produced by the structural and cultural barriers in our system, and how is everyday racism connected? What is the impact on communities we work with and are part of? What can I do, in my system leadership role, to take action?

This one hour webinar is grounded in practical tools and tactics for mobilising on the small steps to longer term change.

We’re delighted to be supported by Elizabeth Cameron, Chair of the GM Race Quality Panel, as a designer and facilitator of this session.

Content warning: This webinar will include descriptions of racism and stories of experiences of racism.

Learning Materials

Reni Edo-Lodge | READ: This is white privilege – short read. In this blog, Reni Edo-Lodge uses a short conversation to brilliantly highlight how white privilege operates between invisible, ‘insidious’ structures and everyday interactions; upholding systems that have ‘drastic implications on quality of life’.

Professor Jason Arday | WATCH: Short video – Channel 4 Britain not close to
being racially just society – short watch. Professor Jason Arday, part of a team of researchers from across the UK, introduces a comprehensive review of racial inequality in the UK, uncovering the systemic reality of how racism is culturally and institutionally embedded in society.

Herbbie | LISTEN: Let’s talk about back then & now – long listen. Born in the 60’s in London, Herbbie chats about the different forms of racism he has faced in his life. The podcast explores what racism was like back in the 70’s/80’s in the UK, compared to what it looks like now.

Frank Douglas | WATCH: Tackling Bias Recruitment, Progression & Development
to address racial inequalities – long watch (from 20:00). Frank, reflecting on decades of experience in workforce development and equality, helps us to unpick the barriers to inclusion in our workforce and the progression of people of colour into leadership roles. There are plenty of transferable lessons from his experience in the private sector.

Webinar 4 - The role of imagination in shifting systems

This webinar introduced how imagination has shaped the systems we currently operate within, and how we can use imagination practice in our leadership to see new possibilities for our communities and systems. We also explored some of the practical frameworks that can be used to consider the future.

This webinar was designed and hosted by Anna Mouser. Anna is a senior associate with the Innovation Unit, a collaborator with Canopy SI on social imagination and a member of the Point People.

Learning Materials

WATCH | 14 mins | We need to imagine different futures – Anab Jain At the cutting edge of this practice, Anab Jain from Superflux talks about their work which brings future possible worlds to life through physical installations and simulations so that we people can tangibly experience them and in doing so, find ways to shape those futures.

LISTEN | 1 hour | Decolonising The Future – The Longtime Academy The Long Time Academy podcast explores how we can become better ancestors and think about the long term. This episode looks at how we can decolonise our imagination.

READ | 20 mins | Social Imagination Compass – Canopy SI. Canopy SI are practitioners of social and collective imagination, their brilliant open source ‘Social Imagination Compass’ guides you through ways to work with imagination in public life and why it matters.

Webinar 5 - Storytelling, Leadership and Action

This webinar was hosted by Nick Webb, Director of Mental Health Innovation at Innovation Unit. In this webinar, Nick explored the pioneering work of Marshall Ganz (Kennedy School, Harvard University), to share practices that will help you, and others, connect to your personal call to leadership, and help you use storytelling to mobilise others into action.

Learning Materials


Why stories matter | Marshall Ganz | 10 minutes


Public Narrative | Marshall Ganz | 15 minutes


Speaking on Power | Marshall Ganz | 15 minutes

Webinar 6 - Small actions, big patterns: Renewing relationships to shift systems

“The most important unit of analysis in a system is not the part (e.g. individual, organization, or institution), it’s the relationship between the parts” – systems theorist, Brenda Zimmerman.

Relationships are increasingly acknowledged to be critical for working in collaboration through complex, systemic challenges. But our existing system is not set up to support and nurture relationships that enable leaders to work differently. Mindsets and values shape the system and the people in the system: our desire for efficiency and control are reflected in everyday patterns of relationships, behaviours and structures. But, our everyday patterns also shape the system itself. What power can we find in renewing everyday patterns of relationships to shift systems?

Using perspectives and ideas from visionary theorists, practitioners and social activists, this webinar explored these ideas within examples from Greater Manchester. With no ‘quick fix’ for existing, enduring mindsets, this webinar instead invites you to pay attention to small actions for influencing big patterns – ‘re-patterning’ systems towards connection and collaboration through your everyday interactions and relationships.

Learning Materials

Everyday Patterns for Shifting Systems | The Yunus Centre Griffith University, The Southern Initiative & Auckland Co-Design Lab 2022 | 10 min read

This blog proposes that everyday patterns – interconnections between behaviours, relationships and structures – shape systems and people in systems. It explores the power of re-patterning these foundational elements underpinning systems in order to shift them.

Trauma responses in systems | Collective Change Lab | 10 min read

A provocative exploration around how systems mimic “fight, flight, and freeze” responses typically found in individual trauma symptoms to help us understand the relationship between small behaviours and system blockages.

Relationships Repository | Relationships Project | Toolbox

A comprehensive, diverse collection of materials to support you to build and renew relationships in your leadership context.



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