Based on the book Primal Leadership by Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, and Annie McKee, there are 6 different leadership styles you should know about.
The main premise of the book is that it is neither IQ or skills that make a great leader.
The secret to great leadership is a high level of emotional intelligence.
The book talks about 6 different leadership approaches – four of which are resonant (visionary, coaching, affiliative, democratic) and two of which are dissonant (pacesetting and commanding).
Leadership Styles Definition
The leadership styles are the behaviours that leaders use to interact with their employees. It’s their style of how they motivate, give directions, and accomplish goals.
It’s the personality traits of the leader that will likely determine which style they use most often.
Some styles are considered better for employee engagement, but it’s important to understand that certain situations call for different leadership approaches, so it’s perfectly normal to switch between different styles.
Sometimes, if it’s a high-pressure, rushed situation, you might need to be a bit more of a commanding leader, whereas if you’re deciding something for your own team, you can be a bit more democratic.
It all depends on the situation, and you should be ready to adjust as necessary.
In their research, they discovered that certain styles had a more positive effect on company culture. While it’s okay to switch between different approaches, it’s important to understand how each of these will impact your team.
The visionary leader moves people towards a shared vision.
It’s not about how to get there, this is about getting the team to understand where we want to go.
According to the authors, this style is best for when a new direction is needed.
What’s great about this style is that it’s all about autonomy and allowing people to innovate and experiment to get towards a goal.
Failure is accepted, and employees can feel comfortable trying new things that will help move that mission forward.
They say that this style has the highest impact on company culture.
So many organizations don’t have a mission, or at least a clearly articulated one, which leads to employees feeling unmotivated. It’s so important to have a mission, or a “why” behind what you’re doing.
As an example, our vision at Officevibe is to create greater workplaces. Incredibly simple and powerful, it’s a vision that’s hard not to get excited about.
Pro Tip To Become A Visionary Leader
Be bold. Don’t be afraid to try new things and experiment. Create one ambitious goal that the whole team can focus on. When you’re about to start a new task, ask yourself if it will help you reach your one goal.
This leadership style, like its name suggests, is all about coaching employees to get better at what they do.
Things like one-on-ones with employees are common with coaching.
The only issue with this leadership style is that depending on how the coaching is done, it could be perceived as micromanaging, which can backfire for you.
As a leader, I’d recommend spending the time addressing those concerns, so that no employee thinks that you’re micromanaging.
Remind employees that ultimately it’s their call how they do things, you’re just there to help and offer advice when/if needed.
According to the authors, this style has a very high impact on company culture.
One of the biggest mistakes that leaders make with this style is focusing on improving the weaknesses of their employees. As a leader, if you want to get the best results from your team you need to focus on their strengths.
Pro Tip To Become A Coaching Leader
Check in frequently with each member of your team, and make the time to mentor them. No matter how busy you are, if you’re a coaching leader, then you need to empower each of your employees to be the best they can be.
An Affiliative Leader
This leadership style acts as an affiliate – making connections throughout the organization.
It’s all about creating a more harmonious workplace where everyone knows and works well with each other.
Often, employees will have disagreements among themselves and maybe won’t like some of their coworkers, but this leadership style aims to fix all of that.
If trust is ever broken in an organization, then this leadership style is perfect for trying to fix it.
The authors say that this style has a positive impact on culture.
Pro Tip To Become An Affiliative Leader
Build a culture of recognition on your team. Over time, this will get everyone on the team closer with each other and help to build those relationships. Otherwise, regular team building activities are a great way to bring the team closer together.
A democratic leadership style is all about creating a group commitment towards a result.
This leadership style is best to use when you, as a leader, aren’t 100% sure of which direction to take and you want to use the wisdom of the crowd to help you make a decision.
For major decision or time-sensitive decisions, this might not be the best approach to take. In those situations, leaders are expected to make the decisions for the team and be confident with their choice.
The authors say that this style has a positive impact on culture.
Pro Tip To Become A Democratic Leader
Learn to trust your employees and work on your communication skillsso that you can discuss ideas with everyone on the team. A democratic leader gives everyone on the team an equal say in the decision making.
Now we’re starting to get into what the authors refer to as “dissonant” leadership styles (negative).
A pacesetting leader sets the pace for their team. They set goals and expect the team to reach those goals no matter what. They demand a lot from their teams and have no problem calling out poor performers.
They tend to offer very little to no guidance and expects the team to know it all already.
The authors, not surprisingly, say that this style has a negative impact on culture.
This leadership style is best associated with overworking employees and leading to burnout. They’ll get results in the short term, but long term, this style does a lot of damage to morale.
Pro Tip To Become A Pacesetting Leader
I would try my best to avoid this style as much as possible, but the key to getting this one right is about motivation. Because you’re moving at such a fast pace, learn to motivate your team and get them excited about the potential results of all the hard work they’re doing.
The commanding leader leads with fear.
Leaders come across as cold and emotionless. Most of the time, this style has very negative effects on company culture.
Unfortunately, the authors note that this is still the most often used leadership style, even though it’s by far the least effective.
There isn’t much praise with this style, but instead a lot of criticism.
Goleman says that the only time this style might be effective is in a crisis, when an urgent turnaround is needed, but for the most part, this style doesn’t work.
Stop Being A Commanding Leader
I would avoid this style altogether. The authors say it’s still the most used style, so watch out for this. If you’re using it, do everything you can to stop it. No one likes to be commanded. Leading by fear doesn’t work anymore.