6 Styles Of Leadership

When teachers get asked what type of leader their Head or line manager is then they tend to give an honest opinion!

The type of leader they identify though tends to fall into one style. As all good leaders know, you can’t just be one type but need to shift and glide between styles.

In their book The New Leader, Goleman, Boyatzis and McKee identify six styles of leadership split into two dissonant styles and four resonant styles:

1. Pace-setting

“Do it my way.”

This leader builds challenge and dynamic goals for people, expecting excellence and often exemplifying it themselves. They pinpoint poor performers and demand more of them. When needed they will roll up their sleeves and rescue a situation themselves.

They tend to be low on guidance, expecting people to know what to do. They get short term results but over the long term this style can lead to exhaustion and decline.

2. Coercive

“Do it because I say so.”

This leader soothes fears and gives clear directions commanding and expecting full compliance. They need emotional self-control for success and can seem cold and distant.

3. Visionary

“Let’s remind ourselves of the larger purpose.”

This leader moves people towards a shared vision, telling them where to go but not how to get there. They openly share information and give knowledge power to others.

4. Affiliative

“People first, task second.”

This leader creates human connections and thus harmony within the organisation. This style is very collaborative and focuses on emotional needs over work needs.

5. Democratic

“Let’s work it out together.”

This leader values a range of inputs and promotes participation, listening to the good, the bad and the ugly.

6. Coaching

“Let me help you develop”

This leader connects wants to organisational goals, helps people find strengths and weaknesses and ties these to career aspirations and actions. They are good at delegating challenging assignments.

Goleman et al say that visionary, coaching, affiliative and democratic styles create the kind of resonance that boosts performance whereas the pacesetting and commanding styles need to be  applied with caution.

Typically, the best, most effective leaders act according to one or more of six distinct approaches to leadership and skilfully switch between the various styles depending on the situation.

There is no one size fits all so leaders need to select the style that maximizes their effectiveness in a given situation. The more styles a manager has mastered the better.

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