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Six Leadership Styles

Six Leadership Styles

Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence studied 6 essential leadership styles and offers his insight in "Leadership That Gets Results," Harvard Business Review. The six styles’ modus operandi are:

Leadership Styles

Coercive – Demands immediate compliance, “Do what I tell you”

Authoritative—Mobilizes people toward a vision, “Come with me”

Affiliative—Creates harmony and builds emotional bonds, “People come first”

Democratic—Forges consensus through participation, “What do you think?”

Pacesetting—Sets high standards for performance, “Do as I do now”

Coaching—Develops people for the future, “Try this”


Authoritative leadership has the most positive impact on culture. Affiliative, Democratic and Coaching follow close behind. No one style should be used exclusively, while each have short-term uses.


Coaching was one leadership style that shows “markedly positive” impact on performance, culture, and the bottom line. But Coaching was the least-used leadership style. Goleman wrote, “Many leaders told us they don’t have the time in this high-pressure economy for the slow and tedious work of teaching people and helping them grow.”


Few leaders possess competencies in all six leadership styles. Even fewer know how and when to use a style. When shown the research, the most common response from leaders was, “But I have only two of those!” and “I can’t use all those styles. It wouldn’t be natural!”


Leaders Need Many Styles

“Leaders who have mastered four or more—especially the Authoritative, Democratic, Affiliative, and Coaching styles—have the best climate (culture) and business performance,” according to Goleman.


Grow Your Emotional Intelligence > Grow Your Leadership Styles

Goleman recommends that you begin expanding your own leadership style toolbox.  A leader must first understand their own emotional competencies and what they lack. They could then work attentively to increase additional competencies.


For instance, an Affiliative leader has strengths in three emotional intelligence skills: empathy, building relationships, and interpersonal communication.


If she wants to expand her Coaching skills, she will focus on improving development of others and self-awareness. Her competencies already include empathy.


Improving Your Emotional intelligence

Unlike IQ which changes little from childhood, emotional intelligence can be learned at any age with practice and commitment. It doesn’t come easy. It takes months to Improve an emotional intelligence competency.


The emotional brain is slow to learn a new behavior. It needs repetition and practice. It’s like changing a habit. The leadership habits in the brain unlearns old ones and learn new ones. The more often it is repeated, the stronger the brain circuits become.


At some point, the new habit becomes the default option allowing you to go through the new habit effortlessly.

Take inventory of your competencies. 

In your organization, do other leaders' styles complement your leadership styles?


Here's to mastering your leadership styles.

Wes Legg


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