Goleman Leadership Styles – Understanding the 6 Styles

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Use Goleman Leadership Styles to Build Stronger Teams and Achieve Better Results

Any of you out there who lead others need to read this article. Goleman Leadership Styles is an important go-to guide for all leaders to understand. Every situation needs different leadership approaches. Therefore, Goleman Leadership Styles is a necessary resource to have.

Let’s have a look at what Goleman Leadership Styles are. Then, we will look at how we can use them. Also, we will share what to avoid in order to use them best. Finally, we will talk about how Goleman Leadership Styles can work best for you and your team.

I have personally used and trained the 6 Goleman Leadership Styles and can vouch for their success. The model for the styles is an effective way of embracing different leadership approaches with your team depending on the situation you are facing.

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What are Goleman Leadership Styles?

There are 6 Goleman Leadership Styles, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Some people refer to them as the “emotional” leadership styles. Here, we will explain each of them in turn. They have positive and negative impacts on the team, depending on their use.

We need to:

  • Know them and the impact they have on others.
  • Use them at the right time.
  • Move between the styles depending on the situation.
  • Avoid overusing styles that have a greater negative impact.

The 6 Goleman Leadership Styles are:

  • The Coercive Leader
  • The Authoritative Leader
  • The Affiliative Leader
  • The Democratic Leader
  • The Coaching Leader
  • The Pacesetting Leader

Each comes with its own set of characteristics that make them effective in different situations. It’s important we know which one to use and when. Also, it’s important to know which to avoid for better results. We will break down each of the leadership styles with the advantages, disadvantages, and usage. This will help you to navigate the styles more effectively.

#1- The Coercive Style

Tick inside blue box shape for The Coercive Style of Goleman Leadership Styles
Get things done


One of Goleman Leadership Styles is the Coercive Leadership style. This is also known as the “commanding” or “directing” style. As you can tell from the description, this style is very much about the leader telling you what to do. Their approach is very much “Do as I say”. Don’t ignore this style completely. As you will see, there are times when this approach is useful.


One main characteristic of this style is quick-fire action, without any delays. There are occasions where this straightforward action is necessary. This style allows that to happen.

Next, staff admire leaders who can make effective decisions in tough times. They feel safer when their leaders can take control of serious situations.

Also, this style shows strength of character when used at the right time. Leaders need to be able to take a tough stance at times, regardless of the feelings of others. That may be customers or staff.


Beware of overusing the Coercive leadership style. You can be seen as a bully if this is your go-to style for every occasion. Very often, this style will alienate those around you when overused.

Also, this approach can be seen as very demanding. There is no participation from the team. Only the leader makes decisions and has a say. This doesn’t work for every situation.

Next, understand that this style when overused can lead to lower team morale, increased staff turnover and less effective communication. None of these elements are good for a team to achieve results.

In Goleman Leadership Styles, this is one of the 2 options that can have more negative results than positive when overused.


We use this style when there is an emergency. On those occasions, you need someone who doesn’t waste time and can stay focused to get things back on track.

Also, use this style when dealing with a customer or staff issue that needs a rapid response.

This can also be used when time is of the essence, and you simply don’t have time to consult others.

#2- The Authoritative Method

binoculars for vision blog post image for The Authoritative Method
Look ahead and lead the path for others to follow


The next of Goleman Leadership Styles is the Authoritative style. Also known as the visionary leader, this style commands respect and inspires others. The main approach of this style can be linked to “follow my lead”. This leadership style allows leaders to show their knowledge and expertise.


Every team needs inspiration. This is one of the key characteristics of this style.
Here, the leader shows the direction. However, they allow team members to reach the goal using their own initiative. This can create a positive work environment for team members.

Also, the style promotes trust and understanding for the team, as a whole. They are hands-on without straying into micro-management.

Authoritative leaders provide clear guidelines and direction. This allows the team to flourish under their management.


This style can be challenging for new leaders to embrace. New leaders may struggle to prove their authority, especially around more experienced colleagues. They need time to prove their value in certain new areas of leadership. Also, they need time and assistance to learn new skills that allow this style to be successful.

Also, this style comes along with confidence and being able to create buy-in. Not all leaders can embrace this style without coaching of their own.


Use this style when launching a new process, system or product. The authoritative leader shines when taking their team in a new direction.

Also, use this style when a new vision for the company is being rolled out. This is where the style will greatly help create an understanding of what the company is trying to achieve.

This is one of the 4 positive styles of Goleman Leadership Styles. It creates a lot of positive elements for the team, as a whole.

#3- The Affiliative Option

Handshake blog post image for affiliation of Goleman Leadership Styles
Get the people involved


Next, we are looking at the Affiliative leader from Goleman Leadership Styles. This style is very much about the team working together. The general approach sounds like “People matter most”. Of course, goals and targets are important. However, affiliative leaders understand that goals are best achieved through their people.


There is a strong connection throughout the team through proper understanding. These leaders see great support from their team. As a result, there is better collaboration, team harmony, and mutual respect.

Also, they have a strong belief in people’s potential. They will match the strengths of the individuals in the team to the task at hand. Therefore, they promote greater motivation and engagement.


Affiliative leaders often struggle to make tough decisions. This is especially true when people within the team can be negatively impacted.

Next, they try to avoid rocking the boat. Therefore, they may struggle to discipline team members when necessary. Often, they simply want the status quo to remain the same rather than implement new ideas.

Also, the affiliative leader may seem to be a walkover, with some team members taking advantage to get their own way.

Finally, affiliative leaders may struggle to stay on track in terms of goals and targets. Because their focus is people, they sometimes lose focus on the company achievements that are required for success. This can lead to these leaders losing some standing in the eyes of their own leaders.


Use this style for any type of team conflict or disagreement. The style allows for mutual understanding and open communication.

Also, this style works well with team building and development. As the affiliative leader is concerned about the people, these can be key focus areas and direction. This is a great approach to use when developing the team as a group/unit. Lead by example with this style to show how important interpersonal skills are to achieve success together.

Next, apply this style when bringing the team together, especially a new team. Imagine you are launching a new team. Perhaps you are bringing people together on a project from different areas. This style will work well for these situations.

#4- The Democratic Style

Clenched fist blog post image for Democratic style of Goleman Leadership Styles
Let’s do this together


Another of Goleman Leadership Styles is the Democratic Leader. Here, we see the leader has the approach of “Tell me your thoughts”. This style includes everyone in the discussion. Also, it ensures participation in decision-making and power-sharing within the group.


This style can greatly increase staff morale because of the level of inclusion. This dynamic can create a great workplace environment. Also, there will be greater collaboration and open communication.

Next, the ideas and suggestions are coming from the team, not just the leader. Therefore, there is usually more buy-in to achieve results because of the active participation of the team.

Also, the democratic style allows for the team to be involved in problem-solving. This can be very rewarding for the team members involved. Instead of being on the outside looking in, they are actively involved in the process from start to finish.


Sometimes, this style is used when the timeframe does not allow. Therefore, time may be wasted when a different style would have worked better.

Also, you may see conflict within the team when using this style where decisions cannot be agreed upon. Sometimes, you need a quick decision from one person rather than hearing from everyone in the team.


Use this style to promote equality within the team and when time allows. When everyone has a voice, they are more committed to the task at hand.

Another great use is when brainstorming will help in problem-solving. Include everyone and promote openness in the discussion.

Of all Goleman Leadership Styles, this is a very positive style that suits a variety of different situations. Use it actively when your team can genuinely add to the overall results.

#5- The Coaching Method

Pink whistle for The Coaching Method of Goleman Leadership Styles
Coaches encourage development


This is the fifth of Goleman Leadership Styles – the Coaching Leader. This is yet another of the more positive styles available from the 6. The main approach would sound like “Give it a try”. The leader encourages their team members to develop in areas individually, to add greater strength to the team overall.


This is a great way to motivate individuals to shine within the team. By recognising the potential of others and giving coaching opportunities, you are encouraging growth and development.

Next, the coaching style drives motivation and energy through the team. Through encouragement, others in the team can find the support offered at this time a driving force to achieve results.

Also, the coaching approach can lead to longevity in the team. When team members have coaching plans in place, they are more likely to stay with the company longer because of the development journey. I have seen this happening first-hand on numerous occasions and it has very positive results when planned and actioned effectively.


This style does take time. Unfortunately, not all leaders see the potential of investing the time and effort to apply this style.

Then, some leaders have a fear of being replaced. They may have the mentality that if they develop others to do the task, they may be better at the role. Therefore, some leaders avoid coaching others, just in case!


Use this style to encourage your team members during tougher times. Support them along the way to achieve success even when faced with challenges.

Also, this style works well when looking at growth and promotion in the team. When you have identified individuals for development, the coaching style will help achieve better results.

#6- The Pacesetting Approach

Blue boats following red leader boat blog post image for The Pacesetting Approach
Follow me now!


And now we have the last of Goleman Leadership Style – the Pacesetting leader. This can be a very effective style in short bursts. However, it can create a negative workplace if used too much. The general feel of this style is “Follow me, now!”. It is one of the 2 of Goleman leadership styles that can have more negative than positive implications. Therefore, use it with caution.


Using this style, you really challenge your team to push themselves harder than usual. This can create great energy and enthusiasm in the group.

Also, this style usually comes with better organisation and planning. As you usually have a time frame to stick to, the pacesetting leader will have a strong structure and direction to follow.


This style, when used too much, can be exhausting. The pace cannot always be maintained for extended periods of time.

Next, using this style too much can cause a lot of stress and pressure in the team, leading to others resenting the leader after some time.


Basically, use this when you need top-quality results in a short amount of time. This high-paced push for results, as I mentioned earlier, should only be used in short bursts. Avoid using it for any extended amount of time. Otherwise, you run the risk of burnout in the team.

Goleman Leadership Styles in Action

Word Lead blog post image
Action steps!


So, now we have seen Goleman Leadership Styles. However, how do we really put them into action? We can use L.E.A.D. to apply them better.


We need to learn and properly understand the different styles to use them as leaders. Without a proper understanding of the styles, it would be easy to match the wrong style with the wrong situation. Spend time getting to know the characteristics of each of the styles. Know when to use them, and when to swap to another style. Also, select the more positive options more often for better results.


As leaders, you need to know and use the styles effectively. However, it is important to encourage others in the team to know and use the styles as well. Once you have mastered the styles yourself, you should share the styles with other leaders in your team. This will ensure that all leaders in your company can achieve better results across the board.


To get the best results from Goleman leadership styles, we need to acknowledge that using a mix of styles is essential. Also, recognise that each of the styles has limitations as well as advantages. By acknowledging these points, you will select the best style to use in different situations.


First, analyse the situation. Then, decide on the style that best suits the occasion. Also, consider the team members involved and which style will suit the team dynamic best. Choosing the wrong style could have very negative impacts on the team. Therefore, deciding the style to suit the occasion should enable you to lead more effectively.

Wrap Up

So, there you have it. Goleman Leadership Styles can have very successful results when used in the right way. Speaking from experience, knowing Goleman leadership styles can give you the edge as a leader when interacting with your team and working together on different tasks and jobs. Spend time getting to know the different styles to achieve team goals and success.

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Updated on: August 22, 2023

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