The leadership model – from actual to desired

Read an article on how to balance human interaction with work efficiency to build better relationships at work as a leader.

The leadership model – from actual to desired

written by Irina Fizesan (Project Delivery Lead) and Larisa Cozma (Project Delivery Lead), in the October 2023 issue of Today Software Magazine.

Read the article in Romanian here

Leadership has often been discussed in different contexts and approached from different points of view, making it a truly dynamic and important topic.

We can recognise a few characteristics of these two leadership models that we’ve chosen, which define the article’s subject: in terms of transactional/operational interaction, here we find, one one hand, setting performance targets and, rewards as a result of reaching the purposes, and also consequences that apply if targets are not met.

On the other hand, the personal interaction or servant model is the needs-oriented, problem-solving and, above all, empathy-oriented approach.

As we have frequently faced the dilemma of the dynamics of transactional and personal interactions and noticed that others had the same questions, we decided to start looking for answers through a survey among our colleagues.

Having started from a personal motivation, a belief that we wanted to confirm or disprove, we really gained valuable insights and understood what behaviour is current and appropriate among us, whether we are leaders or have a leader in our lives.

Following the survey, we observed a significant diversity between those in leadership positions and those who are mentored, i.e. 60% of respondents are in a leadership position and 40% are not in a leadership position.

In the following, we will analyse some key questions that can help us draw a conclusion about the dynamics between transactional/operational interaction and personal interaction, which is necessary for harmony in day-to-day managerial approaches.

From the perspective of the actual form of interaction, we have considered the two important aspects: transactional/operational form, and that of personal interaction.

The relationship between these two forms of interaction is an equal one, both operational/transactional and personal interaction happen often, at least among the respondents.

In seeking to find out the optimal ratio between these forms of interaction, we found from the responses that this equal ratio between these two forms is also the right one, which confirmed that the leadership model used among leaders is optimal.

What should be the dynamic of your 1-on-1 meetings with your leader or mentee?

As the majority answered, one-on-one meetings, as highlighted by various perspectives, rely on a balance of structured but adaptable approaches. These meetings serve as a platform to address both transactional and personally engaging topics.


They create a friendly and safe space for open discussion, fostering mutual respect, empathy, transparency, and a light tone.

The focus varies from person to person, with some prioritising personal interaction, seeking to understand individual wellbeing, personal and professional development. Others may focus more on project issues and working with colleagues and clients.

The recurring theme is adaptability – recognising and meeting each person’s unique needs. Whether it’s a structured approach with mutually agreed priorities or a more flexible, human-centred conversation, the ultimate goal is to create a connection and ensure employees feel seen, heard and valued, thereby increasing their overall performance and job satisfaction.

Open discussion and feedback are essential to foster a productive and harmonious working relationship between leaders and team members.

In a situation where a person’s job satisfaction has decreased due to a mismatch between their current and desired career, and they are looking for a change, how should this scenario be addressed?

Open and honest communication is essential to address individual concerns and align their career aspirations with the organisation’s goals is what over 60% of respondents believe. To achieve this, initiating a friendly and frank discussion with their manager is the first step. This dialogue should be characterised by empathy and understanding, acknowledging the employee’s feelings of dissatisfaction.


During this conversation, both parties should explore the causes of the mismatch between the employee’s current role and their desired career path. The goal is to identify potential solutions and alternative career paths within the organisation that better align with the employee’s aspirations.

A crucial aspect that people mention in developing this process is creating of a personalised personal development plan that outlines clear responsibilities and a roadmap for the employee’s career development.

In addition, offering the support of a mentor can be essential to guide the employee through this transition and provide opportunities for skills development.

Flexibility is essential in this process, and the organisation should be open to considering flexible working arrangements or temporary role adjustments to facilitate the employee’s transition to a more fulfilling career path.

Regular reviews should be scheduled to monitor progress, address challenges, and make any necessary adjustments to the personal development plan.

Ultimately, by encouraging this collaborative approach, the organisation can work to create a more rewarding and productive work environment for the individual, to the benefit of both the employee and the company as a whole.

In the case of project challenges, what approach should the leader take for effective problem-solving?


Effective problem-solving and decision-making within an organisation require a multi-faceted approach that is tailored to specific challenges, which includes:

  • Open discussion: Encouraging open dialogue and communication channels to ensure that concerns and ideas can be shared freely.

  • Root cause analysis: Looking deeply into problems to identify the underlying causes rather than addressing symptoms on the surface.

  • Brainstorming and experimentation: Exploring different solutions and being willing to experiment with new approaches to find the most effective ones.

  • Feedback: Establishing feedback to learn and improve from previous experiences continually.

It is important to note that the approach taken may vary depending on the nature of the challenges and the stakeholders involved.

Some situations may require a more transactional approach, involving formal documentation and thorough preparation to instill confidence in stakeholders. At the same time, empathy and understanding are essential when dealing with team members to assess their perspectives.

Gathering comprehensive information from all relevant stakeholders is an essential step in addressing challenges effectively. In the case of project issues, early risk assessment is vital, and if an appropriate solution cannot be found in the current context, it may be necessary to consider scope adjustments, schedule changes or budget discussions.

Maintaining a customer-focused approach while protecting the team from external pressures is a valuable strategy. Buffer action and negotiating terms with the client can help preserve the team’s productivity and allow them to focus on their work while ensuring client satisfaction.

In conclusion, an adaptive and thoughtful approach to problem-solving, rooted in effective communication, analysis, and collaboration, is essential to successfully manage a variety of challenges within an organisation.

What is considered the most effective strategy a leader can adopt to address a problem and assist in solving it?


When faced with challenges, a few key principles prove to be effective approaches mentioned by a significant proportion of respondents:

  • Prioritise corrective action: Promptly address immediate issues and concerns, such as keeping a customer at risk because of an employee’s actions. After mitigating the pressing issue, delve deeper into understanding the root causes and establish preventive measures.

  • Adapting to deadlines: Consider the urgency of the situation. If there is a strict deadline, leaders should actively contribute to the workload to alleviate team stress. However, when feasible, providing guidance and recommendations for problem solving is appreciated.

  • Empathy and Transparency: Cultivate an environment of empathy and transparency when working with others. While there may be times that require assertiveness and hands-on management, the essence of being human remains essential.

Effective leaders inspire and motivate, while managers focus on organiszing and planning to achieve goals.

  • Human involvement: Establishing feedback to learn and improve from previous experiences continually.

  • Involve people comprehensively: Ensure all stakeholders are involved and their perspectives are considered in addressing challenges. Gathering relevant information from those involved is a vital step in making informed decisions.

By adhering to these principles, leaders can foster a collaborative, solution-oriented atmosphere, ultimately promoting growth and success within the organisation.

In conclusion, nowadays, there is a strong need for predominantly human and workplace interaction characterised by empathy, transparency and a focus on personal well-being and development.

This helps to build trust, boost motivation, and increase job satisfaction among team members, allowing leaders to connect with their employees on a deeper level, making them feel valued and heard.

On the other hand, transactional interaction, which often involves structured discussions about tasks, projects, and operational issues, is vital to ensure that work runs smoothly, and goals are met effectively. This establishes clarity and accountability within the team.

The key is adaptability and recognising when to focus on one aspect at the expense of another.

Effective leaders could assess the needs of their team members and adjust their approach accordingly. They understand that a well-rounded leadership style incorporates both human and transactional elements to create a balanced and supportive work environment.

Finally, the need for human interaction is not in opposition to transactional interaction, but rather complements it. Leaders who achieve this balance are better equipped to inspire their teams, drive performance, and cultivate a positive organisational culture.