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Leadership that gets results

Daniel Goleman

In the March 2000 issue of Harvard Business Review Daniel Goleman wrote an article  on leadership styles. Goleman observes six different styles.

Coercive Leadership Style

The leader's modus operandi

Demands immediate compliance

The style in a phrase

“Do what I tell you”

Underlying emotional intelligence competencies

Drive to achieve, initiate, self-control

When the style works best

In a crisis, to kick start a turnaround, or with problem employees

Overall impact on climate

Negative

Description

The coercive leader is one who demands immediate compliance to his dictates. His style is 'Do What I Tell You'. He creates a reign of terror, bullying and demeaning his executives, roaring his displeasure at the slightest missteps in achieving the business goals. This style is the least effective, because of top-down decision making; it snuffs the ideas and the creativity from the bottom rung of employees. And, high-performing employees who are motivated by more than money, this style erodes their performance. But it has its use. It can break failed business habits, shock people into new ways of working. And in turning around a company or when a hostile takeover is looming.

Authoritative Leadership Style

The leader's modus operandi

Mobilizes people toward a vision.

The style in a phrase

“Come with me”

Underlying emotional intelligence competencies

Self-confidence, empathy, change catalyst

When the style works best

When changes require a new vision or a clear direction is needed

Overall impact on climate

Most strongly positive

Description

The authoritative leader is a visionary; he motivates people by making clear to them how their work fits into a larger vision of the organization. This style maximizes commitment to the organization's goals and strategy. By framing the individual tasks within a grand vision, this leader defines standards - giving performance feedback positive and negative - which revolves around that vision. This style works well in almost any business situation, particularly, when a business is adrift. But while working with a team of experts or peers, who are more, experienced than the authoritative leader, it gives an impression that the leader is being pompous and out-of-touch. If this leader becomes overbearing, he also undermines the egalitarian spirit of an effective team.

Affiliative Leadership Style

The leader's modus operandi

Creates harmony and builds emotional bonds

The style in a phrase

“People come first”

Underlying emotional intelligence competencies

Empathy, building relationships, communication

When the style works best

To heal rifts in a team or to motivate people during stressful circumstances

Overall impact on climate

Positive

Description

Affiliative leadership revolves around its people - its proponents value individuals and their emotions more than tasks and goals. The leader keeps his employees happy and creates harmony among them, which has positive effect on communication leading to sharing ideas, inspiration and building trust. Because of this style, flexibility also rises among employees giving employees freedom to do their job in the way they think is most effective. This leader gives ample positive feedback on their day-to-day efforts, which is all the more motivating. These leaders are natural relationship builders. This style should not be used alone. Its exclusive focus on praise can allow poor performance to go uncorrected, employees may perceive that mediocrity is tolerated. If one uses this style in close conjunction with the authoritative style, he would have a potent combination.

Democratic Leadership Style

The leader's modus operandi

Forges consensus through participation

The style in a phrase

“What do you think?”

Underlying emotional intelligence competencies

Collaboration, team leadership, communication

When the style works best

To build buy-in or consensus, or to get input from valuable employees

Overall impact on climate

Positive

Description

The democratic leader builds trust, respect and commitment by spending time, getting his people's ideas and buy-in. By letting his employees themselves have a say in decisions, that affect their goals and how they do their work, this leader drive up flexibility and responsibility. He also by listening to employees learns to what to do, to keep morale high. In this democratic set-up, his followers are realistic what can and cannot be accomplished. This approach is ideal when a leader is himself uncertain about the best direction to take and needs ideas and guidance.The drawback of this system is, it can lead to endless meetings where ideas are mulled over, consensus remains elusive, and the only visible result is more meetings, particularly when crucial decision have to be taken. In times such as this people end up confused and leaderless. This style also makes much less sense when employees are not competent or informed enough to offer sound advice.

Pacesetting Leadership Style

The leader's modus operandi

Sets high standard of performance

The style in a phrase

“Do as I do, now”

Underlying emotional intelligence competencies

Conscientiousness, drive to achieve, initiative

When the style works best

To get quick results from a highly motivated and competent team

Overall impact on climate

Negative

Description

The pacesetting leader sets extremely high performance standards and exemplifies them himself. He is obsessive about doing things better and faster. He pinpoints poor performers and demands more from them. If they don't raise to the occasion, they will be replaced who can. This destroys the organization climate, as employees feel overwhelmed by pacesetter's demand for excellence and their morale drops. Guidelines for working may be clear in the leader's head, but he/she does not state them clearly; he/she expects employees to know what to do. The pacesetter either gives no feedback on how people are doing or jumps in to take over when he/she thinks they're lagging. And if the pacesetter leaves, his flock suddenly becomes directionless. This style should be sparingly used, and works best when all the employees are self-motivated professionals, highly competent and need little direction and coordination, like in R&D and legal firms.

Coaching Leadership Style

The leader's modus operandi

Develops people for the future

The style in a phrase

“Try this”

Underlying emotional intelligence competencies

Developing others, empathy, self-awareness

When the style works best

To help employee improve performance or develop long-term strengths

Overall impact on climate

Positive

Description

Coaching leaders help employees identify their unique strengths and weaknesses and tie them to their personal and career aspirations, encouraging them to establish long-term development goals and help them to conceptualize a plan for attaining them. They give plenty of feedback and instruction. Coaching leaders excel at delegating, even if it meant the tasks would not be accomplished. Their prime motive is long-term learning of their followers. Although this style works best, it is seldom used, because many leaders don't have time in this high-pressure economy for the slow and tedious work of teaching employees to grow. This style works well in many business situations and works particularly well when employees are already aware of their weaknesses and would like to improve their performance. In contrast, the coaching style makes little sense when employees, for whatever reason, are resistant to learning or changing their ways. The other danger of this style, is when the leader lacks the expertise to help the employees to grow.