People Management

Which Leadership Style Should You Adopt as a Manager?

By Andrée-Anne Blais-Auclair February 23 2021

Knowing your leadership type and which style to adopt depending on the situation will benefit both you and your team.


Leadership is not innate; it is a skill that can be learned and developed. A key part of learning to lead is the art of juggling different leadership styles, according to what the situation requires. A leader who has mastered this skill will be better equipped to motivate, inspire, guide, support and otherwise assist their employees.

To this end, here’s an overview of Daniel Goleman’s 6 leadership styles.

1. Visionary leaders

Visionary leaders are inspiring, charismatic people who are able to easily rally others around a vision.

They see the big picture clearly and excel at pep talks. These are people who can walk up to the stage, take their place and communicate images to an eager crowd. Visionary leaders are charmers and persuaders. A good example would be Martin Luther King.

Their vision and mission give meaning to actions.

This leadership style is ideal for announcing a new project or unveiling a new product, for example. The visionary leader will drum up a great deal of enthusiasm and motivation within the team. However, don’t ask them to come up with a concrete action plan. You’d best leave this to their managers or team leaders.

Strengths

  • Offer their team tremendous leeway;
  • Generate very positive emotions in employees;
  • Develop a very powerful sense of belonging in their team.

Weaknesses

  • May cause a project to stagnate: although motivated, employees are on their own when it comes to taking action;
  • Need a right-hand man or manager to help employees translate the vision into concrete action;
  • May lose credibility if their vision seems too abstract, utopian or unrealistic.

2. Affiliative leaders

Affiliative leaders put people first.

They are great unifiers whose central goal is to nurture positive and harmonious relationships.

Affiliative leaders believe in the principle of reciprocity and are convinced that happy employees are also efficient and loyal employees.

To them, the team’s well-being is paramount and even comes before accomplishing tasks and achieving objectives.

Affiliative leaders are committed to egalitarian relationships with their employees.

This type of leadership is optimal during discussions with the team, one-on-one meetings and conflict resolution.

Strengths

Weaknesses

  • May lack authority when it’s needed, given their blurred hierarchical boundaries;
  • Are  unsatisfactory for high-performing employees who consider them too soft when evaluating performance;
  • Moreover, they may compromise the performance of the team since this is not their main priority.

3. Democratic leaders

Democratic leaders rely on the strength of the group. All for one and one for all!

Their two chief qualities are listening and open-mindedness.

Under the supervision of a democratic leader, each person is free to express themselves.

They place capital importance on teamwork, believing that the best decisions are made in light of different visions.

Their employees exchange ideas and share their views without holding back. Democratic leaders therefore excel during brainstorming sessions, for example, empowering their teams by giving employees plenty of autonomy and spurring their creativity.

Strengths

  • Employees tend to be very receptive to the manager’s decisions;
  • Increase the satisfaction of team members;
  • Make everyone feel free and listened to;
  • Promote autonomy and a sense of responsibility.

Weaknesses

  • Bog down the decision-making process;
  • Flip-flop on situations requiring fast decisions;
  • Are inappropriate when a team has a large number of new employees who are unable to be quite as autonomous.

4. Coach leaders

For coach leaders, the top priority is to develop everyone's full potential. Personal and professional development are the key to success.

They rarely rely on immediate outcomes, preferring instead to focus on people's potential.

If everyone grows and develops, the team can reach unparalleled heights.

Coach leaders like to meet with their employees and draw up a medium-term plan together that factors in their aspirations, their wishes, and the goals to meet.

These leaders are methodical and skilled at giving instructions and feedback. To them, these forms of support help employees grow. Coach leaders don’t know the meaning of the word “failure.” Setbacks are merely learning opportunities.

Strengths

  • Bring out the best in everyone;
  • Keep the team continually developing;
  • Give clear goals;
  • Develop concrete and specific action plans;
  • Provide plenty of feedback;
  • Transform failures into valuable learning opportunities.

Weaknesses

  • Are ineffective when fast results are needed;
  • Are unsuitable for standardized tasks where employees must comply while staying within the “mold.”

5. Pacesetting leaders

Pacesetting leaders believe that a good leader leads by example.

The leader shows their team the way.

They are very demanding of themselves, and both efficient and effective.

Their minds are focused on how to do things better and more effectively.

They tend to concentrate on accomplishing the task at hand.

Unfortunately, their high demands can sometimes make them uncompromising. Pacesetting leaders take little time to support their employees and help them develop. Underperforming employees will have to watch out, as these leaders will lack patience.

Strengths

  • Can lead an already seasoned team to great success.

Weaknesses

  • Can demotivate employees who feel like they never measure up;
  • Create a stressful climate that is difficult for the team as a whole to cope with.

6. Commanding leaders

Commanding leaders expect the team to do what they are told, when they are told.

They reign by fear—they don’t ask, they dictate.

And once tasks are completed, they are sure to check everything over very closely.

They don’t bother justifying their requests, considering it a waste of time.

Human relationships and sharing their vision are not their cup of tea.

Since they’re unafraid of setting boundaries, these leaders excel during radical change, crises, and situations involving problem employees. While there are cases that call for this type of leadership, it can be very toxic in the long term.

Strengths

  • Provide close supervision when needed;
  • Can be very useful when an employee violates employment rules;
  • Can stimulate performance when used sparingly.

Weaknesses

  • Cause employees to lose confidence in their boss;
  • Create a cold, strained manager-employee connection;
  • Hamper creativity;
  • Neglect the need for autonomy.

Each leader has their own style

Regardless of which leadership style reflects you the best, the key thing is to know when to adopt which style. Flexibility and a greater knowledge of these different styles will be your greatest assets in this endeavour. 😉


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