01 February 2022
Expert chess players have mastered it, orchestra conductors earn the title "maestro" because of it, and the world's top leaders flex this skill every day to make decisions that affect millions of people. At MindGym, we call this ability Attunement. It's more than a natural calling or being 'born with it.'
The truth is leadership can be learnable—and at a time where workforce complexities are taking a new form, organizations must go beyond traditional teachings to help managers at every level flip these challenges into big wins.
The Art of Attunement
Attunement is when experienced leaders read the system, identify tensions, then apply core competencies in unique ways to steer the system toward better results. This skill isn't new. Innovators and experts have used attunement across different industries to create opportunities for great success.
Grandmaster chess players
Take expert chess players. They have a clear view of the board, so if their opponent makes a move, they're able to use attunement to strategize six, seven alternatives to block that move and walk away with a win. The novice chess player focuses on, at best, the next step. Their attention isn't on the whole board and watching from all angles; it's the most short-term view of the board.
We also see attunement come to life with expert orchestra conductors. Even though you have a note that you're supposed to hold for a certain number of counts, the conductor wants to hold it a little longer depending on the eyes that the orchestra has on them or the audience behind them. Feeling the tension in the room and what is needed to create the orchestra conductor's effect and then release, even though that's not what the note sheet said.
Read the room
This is a prime example of flexing around the environment, knowing what is needed to perform and hold that dramatic effect the best way, rather than just sticking to "it should have been four counts,"
Leaders who can master attunement climb to the next level because they know how to read the room and make the tensions work for them, not against them. Experts here at MindGym have reviewed the research on how leaders successfully attune and have broken it down into its behavioral components to be easily practiced and learned.
The Four Practices of Attunement
We know there are some basic skills all managers need to be effective. These core competencies of driving business, executing, focusing, aligning, boosting, and connecting with employees have remained constant over time.
Still, they don't go far enough to support leaders in the face of overcoming bigger challenges and hitting higher targets—this is where the four practices come in.
In combination with core competencies, Noticing, Sense-making, Choosing, Acting are the building blocks of learning attunement. Leaders must learn to adapt to make the best decisions and steer through tensions in creative ways to take things to the next level.
By applying these four practices, leaders will have a pliable solution that can keep up with ever-evolving situations and provide leaders with the insight they need to balance and respond to tensions.
Making Leadership Learnable
In a nutshell, attunement is about how managers wield their skills, not just on a case-by-case basis, but over time in different scenarios. Tailored to address the specific needs your organization is facing now, MindGym's Leadership Development experience provides practical, targeted solutions to help leaders at every level build core competencies and learn how to attune.
Want to find out more on making leadership learnable for your top managers? Of course you do... Read our free Leadership Regained report