Daniel Goleman's Leadership Styles

Well-known psychologist Daniel Goleman believes that there are six distinct leadership styles and that each one of them can be useful depending on your context and desired outcome.
Daniel Goleman's Leadership Styles

Last update: 18 August, 2019

In modern society, we do almost everything in groups. That’s why leadership is such a fundamental skill. Many psychologists have studied this concept, and Daniel Goleman is one worth mentioning. Goleman is best-known for his work on emotional intelligence. However, he also writes about and researches leadership styles.

Daniel Goleman’s classification of six different leadership styles is the most commonly used in a variety of disciplines. In business, for example, many CEOs and managers study his work to improve their leadership skills. Keep reading to learn more about these different leadership styles.

What are Daniel Goleman’s leadership styles?

In his book Leadership that Gets Results, Daniel Goleman describes six different types of leadership. Each type is based on a component of emotional intelligence.

Daniel Goleman giving a presentation.

According to Goleman, these six leadership styles aren’t incompatible. On the contrary, the best leaders are able to use elements of each style to best adapt to the situation at hand.

Either way, to choose the best style for the situation you’re in, you first have to know what they are:

  • Authoritative
  • Democratic
  • Affiliative
  • Visionary
  • Pace-setting
  • Coaching

1 – Authoritative leadership

This first leadership style is based on discipline. People who follow this style prioritize maintaining discipline above all. To that end, they usually give short, concrete, and precise instructions. In general, the consequences for not following their instructions are harsh. These kinds of leaders try to make an example of others’ bad behavior so that no one will be tempted to slack off.

This leadership style doesn’t usually make the team feel motivatedEmployees feel like they have no control over their work. They get the impression that they’re no better than machines.

Consequently, you should only use this leadership style in extreme situations. It’s useful if you need to take very concrete action or if your organization or group has a lot of problems. For example, during an emergency or for an extremely complex task that requires precision.

2- Democratic leadership

This leadership style states that it’s very important to take everyone’s opinions into account when making a decision. That usually means having a lot of meetings, debates, and discussions. This style is especially useful in cases where you have lots of time to choose a particular path. It’s also handy when the group members have similar backgrounds.

Democratic leadership is also helpful when you’re working with a cross-functional team. In this context, you have to blend the different disciplines in order to move the project forward. In other words, you have to find the places where different disciplines overlap and coincide so that everyone’s work fits together.

3- Affiliative leadership

The third type of leadership is based on creating bonds between the team members. That way, they’re able to work and collaborate in harmony. Leaders who use this style try to ensure there’s a good work environment because they understand the effect it has on their employees.

The main problem that these kinds of leaders face arises when there is a significant lack of discipline and organization. They can also have trouble during conflicts because people will be more emotionally invested in the situation.

4- Visionary

Leaders who use this leadership style motivate their employees with a clear and exciting vision. They also help each person see their role within that vision. The main advantage of this type of leadership is that everyone has a clear picture of the end goal. That makes everyone feel more motivated.

In general, this leadership style is one of the most popular as of now.

A manager using one of six leadership styles.

5- Pace-setting leadership

The role of a pace-setting leader is to set a course of action and make sure everyone sticks to it. The pacesetter wants to set an example for everyone else. In general, they’re managers and bosses who like to feel like they play the leading role in a project.

The problem with this leadership style is that it makes it impossible for the team to propose something new that isn’t just an imitation of what the pacesetter is doing.

This type of leadership is especially effective when the leader is an expert in the field. As a result, the rest of the group members have to see the project as a learning opportunity.

6- Coaching leadership

The last type of leadership is based on helping the members of a group find their strengths and weaknesses. Then, the coach will help each person develop to their full potential. The idea behind this style is that a good worker will have more to offer than one who hasn’t maximized their potential.

Each of Daniel Goleman’s leadership styles has its advantages and disadvantages. That’s why it’s important to carefully analyze the situation and choose the one that works best depending on the circumstances. Developing leadership skills is useful not only for managers and supervisors, but for anyone who has to work on a team to achieve a goal.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.