Six types of leadership that every CEO should master


There isn't a single way of being a great leader, everything depends on your own personal style and the situation you're in, but there's something we can say for sure: leader and manager are completely different terms, even though a lot of people use them interchangeably. Many managers believe leadership is a personality trait, something you were born with, but great leaders don't actually have a series of unmovable specific habits – effective leadership is all about judging the specific situation and adapting to apply the most appropriate leadership style.

Daniel Goleman, an emotional intelligence expert, suggests effective leaders should have strengths in five specific areas: social skills, self-awareness, motivation, self-regulation, and empathy. Using these five emotional competencies as a base, he identified six leadership styles that all great leaders should apply when needed:

1. The coercive style

Modus operandi: The leader demands immediate compliance and can be often quoted to say things like 'Do what I tell you'.

Related emotional intelligence competencies: Initiative, self-control, drive to achieve.

When should this style be used: This type of leadership lowers morale, diminishes innovation, and alienates people, so it should only be used in times of dire emergency where the completion of tasks is an absolute priority.

Overall impact on working environment: Negative.

2. The authoritative style:

Modus operandi: The leader has a vision and he motivates the team to follow that goal. It's still a commanding style but he gives some room to let the team decide which methods are best in order to achieve the shared dream.

Related emotional intelligence competencies: Empathy, change catalyst, self-confidence.

When should this style be used: Experts say this type of leadership works well in most business situations, but should be avoided if the leader is less knowledgeable or has less experience that the rest of the people in their team in that specific matter.

Overall impact on working environment: Positive.

3. The affiliative style:

Modus operandi: This style is all about individuals and their respective emotions, and it puts happiness and human relationships over assigned tasks and companies' missions. The leader aims to create harmony and strong internal bonds within the team.

Related emotional intelligence competencies: Empathy, communication, bonding.

When should this style be used: To heal rifts in a team, and to motivate people during stressful or discouraging circumstances. It's not appropriate to use when the team is looking for guidance and direction.

Overall impact on working environment: Positive.

4. The democratic style:

Modus operandi: The democratic leader builds mutual respect, commitment and trust by negotiating with their people and creating flexibility and responsibility within the workforce. It allows the team a greater voice in making decisions on what direction should the company take.

Related emotional intelligence competencies: Collaboration, communication, team leadership.

When should this style be used: Research claims it works in almost every situation, especially if the leader is uncertain about what the best next move should be. However, it leads to endless meetings where consensus might not be achieved, leaving the staff feeling confused and leaderless. This style shouldn't be used if the workers are not properly informed of all the details surrounding the issue or if they're unable to give good advice because of lack of competent knowledge.

Overall impact on working environment: Positive.

5. The pacesetting style:

Modus operandi: This type of leader is obsessed with high performance and for them it's all about doing things better and faster. They lead by example, set the pace for the followers, and get rid of poor performers if they don't meet their expectations.

Related emotional intelligence competencies: Drive to achieve, initiative, conscientiousness.

When should this style be used: To get quick results from a highly motivated and competent team, but it can completely destroy the organization's climate if the staff is not motivated enough to take such expectation without feeling overwhelmed. However, it shouldn't be used for long periods of time as it can cause huge tension and stress, demotivating the team.

Overall impact on working environment: Negative.

6. The coaching style:

Modus operandi: The leader assists their employees to identify their individual strengths, weaknesses and confidence, and aims to create impact on their personal and professional lives.

Related emotional intelligence competencies: Empathy, self-awareness, drive to help others.

When should this style be used: In circumstances when team members need encouragement, guidance and development. Although this style sounds reasonable and a fit for almost any situation, it can backfire if the leader doesn't have enough time to slowly coach the workers, or if the staff is reluctant to improve and stubbornly resists change.

Overall impact on working environment: Positive.

These styles used in harmony should lead to an effective leadership that delivers tangible results and improves team performances, but they rely on the good judgement of the leader and the degree of trust they have on their team.

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