The Problem With Leadership Theories & Why I Don’t Use Them

The Problem With Leadership Theories & Why I Don’t Use Them

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Three Reasons Why I Don’t Use Leadership Tools Or Models

Leadership tools and models for self-analysis are attractive options when you are considering how to develop as a leader, and they can provide some interesting insights. However, it is my preference to steer away from a specific tool when I am coaching leaders.

Here’s why:

Too Many Leadership Tools

The majority of leaders have already completed something similar. Ask them, and they will open a drawer and show you several—how many do you have stashed away? If you haven’t used the information in it yet, then it’s unlikely that you will now.

Trying to juggle too many tools can lead to confusion and overwhelm. It can be difficult to keep track of which tools to use in which situations, ultimately leading to ineffective leadership practices.

It’s important to remember that leadership isn’t about the tools you use but rather the relationships you build and the impact you have on your team. Focus on honing your interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence rather than relying solely on tools.

Ultimately, leadership tools are meant to complement your abilities as a leader, not replace them. Trust in your own instincts and abilities, and use tools as a supplement rather than a crutch. 

Hiding Behind Leadership Styles

The majority of tools and models work best when someone is in a category/box/team/colour, but I find that this causes two problems. Firstly, we can hide behind our new label, “Oh, that’s just me, I am [insert new label],” in a similar fashion to horoscopes, or the box/category/colour is not a flattering representation and, therefore, is dismissed.

Secondly, these labels can create a sense of division and separation among team members, as individuals may feel they are being stereotyped or categorised based on their leadership style. This can lead to conflict and a lack of trust within the team, hindering collaboration and communication.

Outside The Box

In most cases, when a model or tool is used, it is done in isolation by a specialist practitioner, and I feel that you only see one aspect of a person or their behaviour. I consider that people are too complex for a single approach—leadership is about being outside of the box, not in one.

Traditional methods and strategies may have their place, but true innovation and creativity come from thinking outside the box. This is where new ideas and breakthrough solutions are born.

By stepping outside of the box, we can challenge our assumptions and biases and open ourselves up to new perspectives and possibilities. This allows us to approach problems with fresh eyes and come up with unexpected solutions.. 

The Human Factor in Leadership Development

My approach is to personalise the coaching to the individual so that people can find a leadership style and approach that is unique and authentic to them. This doesn’t just feel good for the leader; it equips them when they are under pressure so that they can draw on genuine techniques. I believe effective leadership is not about conforming to a one-size-fits-all model but rather about understanding oneself and others to lead in an impactful and genuine way.

Through personalised coaching and development programs, leaders can uncover their unique leadership abilities and tailor their approach to suit their individual strengths and challenges. This personalised approach helps leaders build self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and resilience, enabling them to navigate leadership challenges with grace and ease.

Overall, my approach to leadership development is centred around personalisation, authenticity, and self-discovery. By empowering individuals to lead in a way that is true to themselves, we can cultivate a new generation of confident, resilient, and inspiring leaders. 

Christine McDonald, The Conversation Company

With a background in adult social care, I bring a wealth of experience in coaching and change-making conversations. My passion for creating a difference, coupled with my coaching expertise, makes me an invaluable member of our team. My core values, rooted in authenticity, equality, and joy, shape every facet of my life, including my approach to work. I believe that navigating through work, personal growth, and change need not be unpleasant; instead, they can be enriching experiences.

I have a notable skill in discovering joy and satisfaction in various experiences, reflecting my innate disposition as a happy person by default. I genuinely enjoy collaborating with individuals who possess different perspectives, demonstrating a keen interest in understanding the intricacies of others’ thought processes. My primary sources of energy derive from the outdoors and interpersonal connections. 

Approaching collaboration, I identify myself as a collaborator who thrives in partnerships, deriving fulfilment from supporting others in reaching their potential. However, I emphasise that while I am eager to assist, the responsibility for initiating the necessary efforts for transformative changes rests with the individual seeking support.

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