Whether you’re a business owner handing out projects to employees, assigning tasks to your friends in the kitchen or *cough taking the high-chair of one of the world’s leading superpowers, it’s helpful to keep in mind what qualities you’re giving off to team members. Thoughtful, aware leadership can inspire a team to pull off seemingly impossible tasks. On the other hand, poorly-utilized leadership skills can incite resentment and put work at a standstill.
In Primal Leadership, Goleman, Boyatzis and McKee identify six leadership styles, arguing that the most effective leader, regardless of style, is self-aware. All six leadership styles possess innate strengths and weaknesses, but it’s up to the leaders themselves to know how to control their tendencies, given the situation.
Here are descriptions of Goleman, Boyatzis and McKee’s six leadership styles, with an example of each, followed by a quiz to determine where you fit the bill. Before taking the quiz at the end, who do you think you most align with?
- Visionary. This leader sets and focuses on long-term goals. Taking into account the strengths and shortcomings of each worker, the visionary leader unites their crew and motivates towards the fulfillment of a greater good. Communicative, charismatic and risk-taking, a visionary leader is typically most successful with less-experienced members of the team, or when big changes are needed to a given structure. Example: Nelson Mandela.
- Coaching. A natural delegate, the coaching leader gives power and responsibility to each of their players within a controlled environment. Coaching leaders build strong, one-on-one connections with their team, establishing personal rapport and trust in an effort to identify each member’s unique strengths and weaknesses. Keeping their traits in mind, coaching leaders set long-term developmental goals for each team member, usually manifested in challenging projects and assignments. This leader is more concerned with their employees’ future growth, rather than immediate results. Example: Phil Jackson.
- Affiliative. This leader is all about the team, reinforcing their commitment to the group with a bounty of positive feedback. Affiliative leaders show high levels of empathy and are great at building positive relationships. Not as goal-focused as other leaders, affiliates strive towards team harmony and group success, going out of their way to accommodate the needs of the team. While this style of leadership produces a high level of trust and satisfaction, it arguably places the value of task-completion on the lower end of the totem pole. Example: Warren Buffett.
- Democratic. This style of leadership functions through group input. The democratic leader listens faithfully to all team members for council before making a decision. While the final decision may ultimately be made by this leader, each team member is made to feel equal, as their opinions and insights are taken into account. Though democratic leadership values the group opinion and can produce the most well-informed action, it can slow down the decision-making process and pit people against one another to have their opinions heard. Example: John F. Kennedy.
- Pace-setting. Highly ambitious and goal-oriented, the pace-setter pushes their team to produce a large volume of top-quality work. A leader by example, pace-setting means that the leader themselves are constantly working and monitoring goals. This leader can be incredibly motivational, as team members will want to keep up with the pace-setter, however this high-pressure lifestyle does not work for everyone and can cause burn-out and can stifle creativity. Example: Mark Zuckerberg.
- Commanding/Coercive. This describes authoritarian leadership — the issuing of tasks and instructions with no regard for input from the team. Often thought of as being the “my way or the highway” approach, the commanding leader insists on immediate compliance. Highly effective in crisis mode, a commander gives clear directions with confidence and expects tasks to be completed exactly how they have been asked to, with no room for interpretation or creativity. Example: Bill Gates.
As promised, here’s a quiz to discover which of the six leadership styles you most align with. Let us know your results! Comment below or on our LinkedIn or Facebook page with your top leadership style. Remember, none of these styles are inherently better or worse than the other, one leader won’t necessarily align with just one of them. Ideally, good leaders are situational and can access each style accordingly.