Video: The six basic leadership styles that get results (Part 1)
Did you know there are 6 basic leadership styles? We unpack each style to help you get results. Watch our video for more information and tips. Watch Now.

Video: The six basic leadership styles that get results

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Both aspiring leaders and those leaders who understand that your never stop learning no matter how high you go often ask me what their leadership style should be or what is the best or most effective leadership style to use. My answer back is always that there is no one style that is best. You have to be able to use a variety of styles in a variety of situations.

Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee, in Primal Leadership, Unleashing the Power of Emotional Intelligence, describe six styles of leading that have different effects on the emotions of your direct reports. And out of all the thousands of Leadership concepts and styles around, these are the ones that I think are the most effective when used in the right way.

Moreover, Goleman asserts that leaders who have the ability to use the different styles in combination, especially the 4 that create what he calls ‘resonance’ you know, character, quality, meaning- The Visionary, Affiliative, Democratic and Coaching styles, will have the best outcomes in most situations. The other two – Pacesetting and Commanding, are useful in some specific situations, but should be applied with caution.


Let’s have a look at what they are:

The Visionary Style

The Visionary Leader does just that – creates and articulates a vision that their direct reports can clearly see and work toward. They easily create the big picture and show how their direct report’s role fits in to that big picture. The one thing the Visionary Leader doesn’t do is explain how people should do their jobs. Instead, they allow people the freedom to innovate, to experiment and take calculated risks and thus motivate people to work towards a shared sense of achievement.


The Coaching Style

This is the style that gets used the least by leaders, usually because most leaders say they don’t have time. But when you ignore this style you give up a mighty powerful tool. When you employ the Coaching style with your direct reports you develop a regular personal, one-on-one conversation with them. You are able to establish rapport and trust and communicate a genuine interest in your people.

The Coaching style also creates an ongoing conversation that opens your people up to more regular performance feedback, and being able to see it as a growth tool not criticism.


The Affiliative Style

The trademark of the Affiliative style is the open sharing of emotions. These leaders value both the people and their feelings. They put less emphasis on task and goals and more emphasis on their people’s emotional needs. The goal of this style is to keep people happy, create harmony and build team resonance. It has a surprisingly positive impact on the group’s environment and feel due to emotional support it offers to the team members during the tough times. This in turn builds a great deal of loyalty and a sense of connection with the leader.


The Democratic Style

The Democratic style is all about getting buy-in from people and building feelings of trust and respect – and as a by-product you often get commitment. By spending time speaking and listening to the concerns of your direct reports the Democratic style tends to keep morale pretty high. The result is a positive climate in the team. The style works well if the leader is uncertain about the direction the team need to take and needs ideas from the team.


The Pacesetting Styles

A great description of this style is: The leader upholds and exemplifies the high standards for performance. They are obsessive about doing things better and faster and expect the same of everyone else. They constantly point out poor performers and demand more of them. The problems start when the poor performers don’t get better and the leader takes over the task instead because – “I can do it better and faster myself”.


The Commanding Style

This is often described as the least effective style, especially in the modern business era. That being said there are still a lot of leaders out there in the business world using this style where the negative impact is yet to catch up with them…but it will!  This style demands immediate compliance with ‘orders’ but doesn’t bother explaining why. If direct reports, or more likely to be thought of as ‘subordinates’ don’t comply immediately, this style often resorts to threats. There is no delegating with this style, just tighter control. Feedback is often non-existent or only negative.


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