Module 9 – Choosing a Leadership Style


Develop a thorough understanding of the impact and implications of using the six leadership styles: Coercive, Authoritative, Affiliate, Democratic, Pacesetting, and Coaching.


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So how did you get on looking at leadership styles where you work? Perhaps you saw different styles, or maybe you saw just one overarching style for your business. Well, as Daniel Goleman suggests, his model 6 different types of leadership style. But what he’s went on to do was to look at which ones are most effective. And he certainly discovered that four out of the six were generally very effective, and two of them were generally ineffective, although there is a time and a place for every leadership style. But also, one in particular was actually universally very effective. So, the coercive style, the autocratic style, the do what I say style is generally a poor style of leadership. It doesn’t motivate because people are being told what to do. They don’t feel motivated to want to do it. The only time it is real applicability is in a disaster or an emergency, where people just have to act and follow orders and do something. In that situation, there’s a fire, evacuate the building, leave the building now. The style has utility in that situation but otherwise not.

The other style which is less effective is the pace-setting style, the, “do as I do now.” This is the very intelligent, driving leader who tries to hold everybody to his or her standard and you may have worked for one of those individuals and it can be very difficult indeed because you simply are not them. You don’t have the skill sets, their knowledge, and you’re always trying to play catch-up trying to be somebody else you’re not and probably never will be.

So it’s generally a damaging style for most businesses. The only place it can work is when you’ve got a collegiate environment, a group of individuals, maybe a consultancy or professional practice, maybe architects or lawyers, where people generally have the same level of competent skills and knowledge and they may be the partner who’s displaying the pace-setting style is simply trying to hold more, to a slightly higher standard, a standard to which maybe they can achieve and they just need that little edge. But in most business settings, this is not going to provide an effective leadership style.

Now the affiliative style, the democratic style and the coaching style were all styles which had their time and place, they were generally effective, and they produce generally good result and you can read more in the text.

The authoritative style the “come with me style” was the one with greatest utility. Confident, positive, leading from the front, definitely heading off authoritatively in one direction, but taking people with you. This was the style that had the greatest utility and used more effectively in more different settings in more organizations.

But Daniel Goleman went on to look at not just which styles were most effective, but who the most effective leaders were. And what he found out was that the leaders who could actually master and apply more than one leadership style were more effective. Indeed, what he said, if you could master and apply two, three, or preferably four different styles, and apply them to the right situation, then you’re going to be the most effective leader.

So, this is important to realize that there isn’t just one style, not just one style for you. Really, you should be trying to be at times coaching, at times affiliative, at times, democratic, and at times authoritative. And if you can move between those different styles, according to the situation, according to the people, then, you’ll be the most effective leader.

But to do that, you have to be highly emotionally intelligent, very self-aware and aware of feelings of others. And so emotional intelligence is the next thing that we are going to move on to. But for now, I want you to go back and start thinking about, is it just one leadership style that you apply, or do you have several and are you able to transition and look at your most effective bosses where you work, and ask yourself, “Are they adapting a leadership styles, and is that making them more effective?” Observe and reflect carefully on leadership styles, and then tomorrow, it’s about emotional intelligence.