The 6 Goleman Leadership Styles

July 05, 2022

the 6 goleman leadership styles

Leadership styles have been studied extensively over the years, as they play a significant role in the success or failure of an organization. The Goleman Leadership Styles is a model that has been widely used to describe different leadership approaches.

The model has six different styles: coercive, visionary, affiliative, democratic, pacesetting and coaching. This article presents each style, exploring its usage and discussing its advantages and disadvantages.

1. The Coercive Leadership Style

the 6 goleman leadership styles

Coercive leadership is defined as a leadership style that uses coercion, threats and rewards to control and motivate people. This type of leadership can be destructive because it can create a climate of fear and intimidation.

Coercive leaders often use their power to get their way, even if it means trampling on the rights of their employees. They are often impatient, demanding, and unyielding, which can lead to conflict and discord within the organization.

How to use it

Coercive leadership is often used to get people to do things they may not want to do. This type of leadership can be effective in certain situations, but it can also be difficult to manage. Here are five tips for using coercive leadership effectively:

  • Establish clear goals and objectives.
  • Make sure your expectations are clear and concise.
  • Be firm but reasonable.
  • Maintain control over the situation.
  • Be consistent.


It can be effective in pushing people to achieve collective goals, it can be efficient in getting tasks completed, and it can be intimidating to opponents. Additionally, a coercive leader is usually respected by those under their authority, which can lead to increased compliance from those employees.


Coercive leadership styles are often associated with negative consequences for organizations. They can lead to lower quality of work, decreased employee morale and increased turnover. In addition, coercive leaders may have difficulty solving problems or communicating effectively with their team.

This style is also often difficult to change, which can lead to instability and/or leader turnover. Finally, coercive leaders often have a less positive impact on their subordinates than more consensual styles.

2. The Visionary Leadership Style

Visionary leadership is a type of leadership that focuses on the future and inspires others to achieve common goals. It is often characterized by high expectations, creative thinking and innovation.

Leaders who adopt this leadership style are able to see the big picture and set bold goals for their organizations. They are also able to inspire their team to believe in their mission and work together towards a common goal. By using these techniques, visionary leaders are able to lead their teams to success.

How to use it

There is no one definitive way to use the visionary leadership style. However, some elements that are common to all successful implementations of this approach include:

  • Setting high goals and expectations for team performance.
  • Inspiring others with your vision.
  • Taking a hands-on approach to problem-solving.

Additionally, being clear about your objectives and communicating them clearly will help keep everyone on track. By using these principles, you can create a vibrant and successful team.


Visionary leaders are able to connect with their employees on an emotional level, fostering a sense of community amongst staffers. By putting the well-being of their employees first, visionary leaders create a positive work environment that encourages creativity and productivity.

This style of leadership emphasizes creating a vision and then driving towards it. Visionary leaders also have the ability to see the bigger picture and are able to make decisions that transcend individual needs in order to achieve the overall goal.


Visionary leadership is often seen as a positive trait in the business world, but there are also some disadvantages to this type of leadership. One disadvantage is that visionary leaders can be very impulsive and change their ideas frequently, which can lead to chaos and uncertainty.

A visionary leader can be extremely demanding and have high expectations from their team. They may also be less forgiving when things don't go as planned or as expected. Furthermore, a visionary leader may not be able to delegate effectively, which can result in frustration and stress for the team.

3. The Affiliative Leadership Style

The affiliative leadership style is a way for leaders to build relationships and create an environment of trust. Leaders who use this style are usually very supportive and helpful. They focus on team-building and making everyone feel comfortable.

This style is often used in creative or collaborative environments, where people need to feel supported in order to be productive.

How to use it

There are several things you can do to use the affiliative leadership style effectively.

  • Make sure you take the time to get to know your team members and understand their individual strengths and weaknesses.
  • Try to create a positive working environment where people feel comfortable sharing ideas and taking risks. Be supportive of your team members, and be quick to give credit for successes.
  • Remember that effective communication is key in any relationship, so make sure you keep the lines of communication open with your team.


It can help build trust and loyalty among employees. This type of leader is typically seen as supportive and caring, which can create a strong emotional bond between leaders and employees. This can be helpful in times of crisis or when difficult decisions need to be made.

Affiliative leadership can help motivate employees. By establishing a positive relationship with their employees, the leader can create an environment in which people feel comfortable taking risks and trying new things. This can be important for organizations that are looking to innovate and grow.


One disadvantage is that it can be difficult to make tough decisions when you have an affiliative leader. Since they are focused on keeping everyone happy, they may not want to rock the boat or make any decisions that could upset people. This can lead to stagnation within the team and prevent it from reaching its full potential.

Another disadvantage is that an affiliative leader can be too passive. They may not be able to make tough decisions when needed or stand up for what they believe in.

4. The Democratic Leadership Style

Democratic leadership is a leadership style that is characterized by participative decision-making and equal sharing of power among team members.

In a democratic organization, team members feel empowered to make decisions and contribute their ideas, and leaders are seen as facilitators rather than dictators.

How to use it

When using the democratic leadership style, there are a few key things to keep in mind.

  • It's important to allow everyone in the group to share their ideas. This can be done by asking questions and giving everyone a chance to speak.
  • Make sure that everyone understands the decision that is being made. This can be done by summarizing the discussion and explaining the decision.
  • Follow up with the group after making a decision to ensure that they are happy with the outcome.


Democratic leadership often results in high employee morale and motivation, as employees feel like they have a voice in the company. Democratic leaders also tend to be more open to change and new ideas, which can help them stay ahead of the competition.

This leadership style builds team morale and cohesion, as team members feel like they are all working together towards a common goal. It also encourages creativity and innovation, as employees feel free to share their ideas without fear of retribution.


While there are many advantages to using the democratic leadership style, there are also some disadvantages to consider. One disadvantage is that it can be less effective in situations where quick action is needed. It can also lead to gridlock and conflict if team members do not agree on the course of action.

5. Pacesetting leadership style

the 6 goleman leadership styles

The pacesetting leadership style is a very demanding and intense way to lead. It requires a high level of energy and can be quite stressful. Those who adopt this approach demand a lot from themselves and those around them. They are always on the go, pushing themselves and others to achieve great results.

Pacesetting leaders are usually very organized and like to have control over everything that happens in their organization. They can be hard to work for, but they produce high-performing teams that are typically very successful.

How to use it

There are a few key things to remember when using the pacesetting leadership style:

  • Be clear about what you expect from your team. Make sure everyone understands the goals and objectives of the organization, and what is expected of them individually and collectively.
  • Communicate frequently and effectively. Keep your team updated on changes, progress toward goals, and any other relevant information.
  • Lead by example. If you want your team to be successful, project the same qualities yourself and demonstrate how you lead.
  • Don't micromanage. It's a great way to tell your team that you don't trust them and is counterproductive.
  • Be willing to accept feedback and learn from it. Don't just brush off any negative feedback as irrelevant or unimportant.


It can help motivate people to achieve more. Pacesetting leaders challenge their team members to do their best and push themselves harder than they ever thought possible. This can result in great accomplishments and a feeling of accomplishment for everyone involved.

Pacesetting leaders are typically very organized and efficient. They know what needs to be done and how to get it done quickly. This can be extremely beneficial in high-pressure situations where time is of the essence.


Pacesetting leadership is not the easiest style to adopt or maintain. This type of leadership can be difficult to maintain over a long period of time, as it can be tiring and it can cause burnout. Additionally, this style is highly stressful for those who are not used to working in such a fast-paced environment.

6. Coaching leadership style

The coaching leadership style emphasizes the development of individual employees through one-on-one interaction and coaching. It is often used in organizations where employees need to be able to work independently and have a high degree of self-direction.

This type of leadership is also effective in organizations that are undergoing changes and need employees who can be flexible and adapt to new situations quickly. It usually involves a lot of communication between the leader and the individual employees. Leaders using this approach provide feedback and guidance, allow employees to make their own decisions, and help them develop their skills.

How to use it

The coaching leadership style is a great way to help employees feel more engaged in their work and motivated to achieve goals.

When using this style, leaders act as coaches, providing support and guidance to employees as they work towards meeting objectives. Here are a few tips for using the coaching leadership style effectively:

  • Establish clear goals and objectives. Ensuring that employees understand the goals of the organization and their individual objectives helps employees stay focused and motivated as they work towards meeting targets.
  • Offer support and guidance. Coaching leaders should provide support and guidance to employees as they work towards achieving goals. This includes offering feedback, answering questions and providing assistance when needed.
  • Celebrate successes. Celebrating successes along the way, both individually and team-wide, keeps employees motivated and focused on achieving results.


By developing trust and mutual respect, leaders can better motivate and influence their employees. This leadership style also allows leaders to coach and guide their followers through difficult times and challenges. This can be extremely helpful in difficult situations where a clear direction is needed.


One disadvantage of the coaching leadership style is that it can be time-consuming. The leader must spend time getting to know each team member and figuring out what makes them tick.

In addition, the leader must be available to offer support and guidance when needed. This can be difficult if the leader is already stretched thin or if the team is large.

Another disadvantage is that it can be challenging to maintain consistency across teams. Because each team is different, the approach that works for one team may not work for another.

How to choose the right leadership style

It is important to note that an individual leadership style cannot be adapted to all circumstances simply because there are no one-size-fits-all situations. Each style has benefits as well as drawbacks, so using only one is counterproductive for a company and its employees.

An effective leader must decide which is the most suitable leadership style to use depending on the situation they find themselves in. If you are looking into hiring a senior staff member, check out our leadership test to assess whether candidates have the skills and abilities required to be successful leaders.

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