The world is seeking a team of curious, creative and humble diplomats to navigate complexity, choreograph systems and facilitate collaboration.

Context and Purpose

Communities, nations, sectors, industries and more are dealing with greater levels of complexity and diversity of participation. This complexity and diversity, and current collective lack of ability to deal with it, is in many cases around the world creating conflict, dis-ease and holding ‘systems’ back from reaching their potential.

These systems require support in being able to come together, find mutual understanding, and move forward in a graceful and effective way. Systems diplomacy helps address these challenges and move systems forward.

As opposed to ‘traditional’ diplomacy, the Systems Diplomat does not represent or speak for a particular voice or power structure within a system. This is not representative diplomacy as it is currently known. The Systems Diplomat moves fluidly between players, roles, process and relationships to increase consciousness of the system, and as a result bring about change to the system.

Systems diplomacy is not entrepreneurial as it is not goal driven. While the social entrepreneur or systems entrepreneur may seek to pursue a certain change goal, the systems diplomat is concerned with process before outcome. It trusts that the outcome is inherently known to the system, but simply lays dormant or unconscious. The diplomat seeks to make conscious that which is currently unconscious, and through this new understanding allows change to occur.

Reports to:

External:     The System – everyone who resides, participates or is affected by the system
Internal:      Own conscience and values

Duties and Responsibilities

  1. Designs and facilitates processes that allow diverse stakeholders to build and maintain connection, and pursue collective goals
  2. Continually retells the collective story to increase understanding and commitment
  3. Gives voice to that which is unconscious or unrepresented in the situation.
  4. Adds to the growing collective consciousness around collaborative approaches, and systems diplomacy
  5. Fiercely and gracefully maintains independence

Required Knowledge, Skills and Attributes


  • Understands systems and how multiple purposes, roles, processes and relationships can coexist
  • Has strong awareness of own relationship to power and authority
  • Is aware of emotional triggers in self, others and situations
  • Has a strong sense of values, and how these may express positively and negatively in different contexts
  • Recognises that there are forces much larger than the human consciousness at play in systems


  • Strong self-reflection skills
  • Able to help people find shared meaning in difference
  • Accomplished storyteller – after all, you are simply changing stories
  • Be able to find and communicate the simplicity on the other side of complexity
  • Be able to engage with technology fluidly to build community
  • Detachment – ability to detach from goal or outcome, and focus on process
  • Works interdependently – appreciating both own independence, and relating effectively with others


  • Patient – appreciation of delayed gratification
  • Endless curiosity – constantly seeking to understand ahead of being understood
  • Humble – if you think it is you that is doing the magic, you are wrong
  • Empathic – you need to be able to connect with others, their feelings and needs
  • Appreciates difference – sometimes people will disagree and that is fine. Difference is not conflict. Empathy helps to hold difference without disconnecting from the other
  • Creative – can think on one’s feet, act spontaneously, and be surprising in approach
  • Grace – able to approach situations with ease and grace

Helpful or desired, but not essential (may be developed on the job):

  • A meditation or contemplative practice

Communicating your role

If you have a need to go around referring to yourself as a Systems Diplomat, please don’t apply – you will just come across as a tosser. You need to be comfortable working in this space while most of the world around you will have no idea what you do or even perceive the full value that you bring. This role description is for you more than the system.

How to Apply

There is no formal mechanism for applying for this role – it is one of inner connection. Simply commit yourself to the principles herein and be aware of opportunities that come your way. There is an increasing need for people in this world to possess the skills laid out here. It is not expected that you will have mastered this. If you aspire to this, join the virtual team.

10 thoughts on “Now hiring: Systems Diplomats

    1. How did I miss this the first time around? Great post by Kate! Had been wanting to write about ecosystem diplomacy since we first talked about it last year. I ended up (obviously) dropping the ‘eco’ to make in a little less chunky. Are there distinctions between systems and ecosystems (aside from the latter sounds so much cooler).

      I thought I would go for a PD format too, just for a bit of fun! Would love to know if you see anything that I missed out or could elaborate on Eddie.

      Have there been any more developments on the Ecosystem Diplomatic Corps idea?

      Love your work/play Eddie!

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