The 6 Styles of Leadership

6 styles of leadership


Leaders have the power to influence and change other people’s lives. Their leadership skills can affect the success of their teams and the businesses they manage.


Author, journalist, and psychologist Daniel Goleman established six styles of leadership. He based this on a three year study of more than 3,000 executives in the USA. They are the following:


  • Commanding Leadership
  • Visionary Leadership
  • Democratic Leadership
  • Coaching Leadership
  • Affiliative Leadership
  • Pacesetting Leadership


Commanding Leadership

Commanding Leadership or Directive Leadership refers to an ordering, autocratic approach where the leader gives orders, and those orders must be followed.



  • Clear expectations and rules
  • Unorganized teams will have structure
  • Decisions can be made immediately



  • Low employee engagement
  • Teamwork and collaboration is nonexistent
  • Dependent on leader


Visionary Leadership

Visionary or Authoritative Leadership refers to leaders that are more creative and eccentric. These leaders give general directions and goals their team needs to achieve, but they’re not too concerned how their employees will achieve it as long as they get it done.



  • Visionary leaders promote innovation and creativity
  • Recognize team’s achievements and make them feel valued
  • Temporary setbacks doesn’t dissuade employees from achieving success
  • Visionary leaders are proactive and can predict challenges


  • Visionary leaders can often get their team excited about a project, but oftentimes doesn’t follow-through
  • More focused on the future and less emphasis on what’s happening in the present. This means the leader can miss details that happen day-to-day that could lead to setbacks.
  • Employees aren’t held accountable


Democratic Leadership

Democractic Leadership is when an employee can participate in sharing Ideas and suggestions can be brought forward by anyone. Anybody can influence the decision-making process.


  • Collaboration creates solutions for problems
  • High employee engagement
  • High accountability


  • Collaboration when deciding can be time consuming
  • Employees can lose trust
  • There can be some resentment

Coaching Leadership

Coaching leadership works best with employees who are willing to improve their skills so that they can become better in their roles. The coaching leadership style also works best with small teams where strong personal relationships can be developed. It becomes difficult to implement coaching strategies with large groups since it is impossible for the leader to connect on a deep and personal level with a large number of people.


  • Employees enjoy working with coaching leaders
  • Coaching can identify strengths and weaknesses
  • Leads to clear expectations


  • Coaching requires a lot of time and patience
  • Coaching without good chemistry can impede progress
  • Coaching can be difficult


Affiliative Leadership – Affiliative leadership puts people first, focusing on creating a peaceful working environment and building emotional bonds. Given the focus on relationships, affiliative leaders can be very helpful when forming a new team or when an existing team is in chaos requiring emotional support.


  • Leader cares about their employees
  • Tightly knit teams
  • Conflicts are easily resolved
  • Low stress and high autonomy


  • Avoidance of criticism
  • Risk of underperforming employees
  • Avoidance of difficult decisions


Pacesetting Leadership

Pacesetting leadership is when the leader sets an example of high performance and high quality. Employees are expected to follow suit, and the pacesetting leader values results more than anything.This leadership style is well-suited to highly competent and motivated teams working on tight deadlines.


  • Goals can be quickly achieved
  • Issues are addressed immediately
  • High performing and competent teams are utilized fully


  • Employees receive no feedback
  • Work becomes repetitive and boring
  • Employees are stressed and overwhelmed

Each business has different goals and needs may differ. Depending on the situation, leaders can adopt any of these leadership styles so they and their team can achieve success together.


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