In the mid-1990s Daniel Goleman popularized the concept of “emotional intelligence” through his best-selling book on the topic. He soon applied these emotional intelligence concepts to business leadership. In the early 2000s, he identified six styles of leadership that correlated effective results and components of emotional intelligence.
6 Styles of Leadership
The six styles he defined were “coercive”, “authoritative”, “affiliative”, “democratic”, “pacesetting”, and “coaching”. Goleman’s research found that overall workplace climate impact correlated to the styles -.26, .54, .46, .43, -.25, and .42 respectively. In other words, two styles had a negative impact and four styles had a positive impact when consistently used over time.
As a young leader, I quickly looked at my leadership and determined my natural style left me well-positioned for success. My natural tendencies as a leader aligned closest to the “coaching” style. This style correlates with a positive impact and Goleman even described this style as “a powerful tool”. Perfect!
Beyond Our Natural Style
I quickly learned camping out in one style permanently led to frustration and in many cases ineffectiveness. If I would have absorbed the rest of Goleman’s research I would have learned we need to master many styles. Specifically, I needed to master all four of the styles correlating with positive impacts. These include: “authoritative”, “affiliative”, “democratic”, and “coaching”. However, mastery of the positive styles is also insufficient. It’s also wise to become very knowledgeable about “coercive” and “pacesetting” styles. There might be a few circumstances where these styles may be the best approach. It’s also wise to understand those styles well enough to avoid the trap of using them when it’s not appropriate.
We add value when we stretch beyond the comfort of our natural leadership style and learn to practice many styles. Mastering the four positive styles and the flexibility to switch between them will produce the best long-term impact.