13 April 2022
Leadership isn’t easy, even with years of experience.
The pressure to balance budgets, protect employee wellbeing, improve productivity, solve conflicts, and keep up with the latest trends is a shortcut to burnout.
This is intensified by top performers resigning, departments being carved apart, and company morale sinking.
For help, leaders often look to traditional leadership models.
But unfortunately, these models do not give managers enough support to beat the workplace obstacles that are causing the issues.
Instead, leaders need to learn, practice, and apply attunement, a vital skill that enables them to navigate workplace tensions and succeed.
Are you a leader that tries to motivate and inspire others? Or are you a stern pragmatist, who uses critical feedback to keep people grounded?
There are many ways to manage teams, and a valuable step for emerging managers is to identify which leadership styles suit them best.
Leadership models provide the theoretical frameworks to do so. They outline key managerial techniques and approaches that give managers a strong, consistent foundation for how to lead people across the organisation. Here are some of the most common:
Developed by academic James McGregor Burns in 1978, transformative leaders aim to lead by example and model ideal employee behaviour. They use inspiration to unite divided teams towards a common goal, turning them into a happy and productive group.
Why it falls short?
The long-term vision is a very important part of transformational leadership for motivating team members, but logistics of achieving that goal are underestimated.
Also, transformational leadership requires significant cultural change to evolve how people think, feel and act, as well as constant communication between company leaders and the rest of the staff.
The situational leadership model is pragmatic. It encourages leaders to develop a variety of techniques in their toolbox, and apply the appropriate behaviour based on the specific situation or employee's need being faced.
When managing a very inexperienced team, the impetus will be on leaders to make all major decisions and closely supervise what the team is doing.
This wouldn’t be necessary for a team filled with experienced specialists, who need little guidance. A better approach would be smooth delegation and workflow management.
Why it falls short?
Managers using the situational leadership model risk confusing their employees by constantly changing their approach. Also, for already time-poor leaders, is it realistic that they will be able to develop the wide skillset to assess an employee’s maturity level and apply the necessary approach every single time?
This is where company purpose and values supersede every other consideration when business decisions arise. Internally, that could mean adopting fully remote working to show employee trust. Externally, organisations may avoid working with clients that don’t align with their values on sustainability or inclusion.
Where it falls short?
For purpose-driven leadership, the model's biggest weakness is that it fails to account for the various competing objectives businesses simultaneously hold and work toward.
When times are hard for a business – financial losses and scarce resources – how many leaders can turn down multi-million pound opportunities that may not totally align with their core purpose and values?
Instead of relying on traditional leadership models, leaders need to focus on developing more dynamic and flexible skills to overcome challenges.
‘Attunement’ achieves this.
Part of MindGym’s leadership development solution, Attunement is about how managers use their toolbox, not just in a single incidence but a pattern of tools used in combination over time.
For experienced leaders who have the core capabilities, it’s all about understanding their context and navigating through tensions successfully.
The four practices of Attunement are:
Using this process, leaders are equipped to see the tensions as they start, respond quickly and directly tackling these issues with positive behaviour change that drives happy successful teams.
Want to learn how to apply Attunement in your workplace? Read our free Leadership Regained report for more science-backed insights on leadership development.