Revealing the leadership styles

May 31, 2023

Blog Cover

Defining what skills are expected from leaders has become more complex in a volatile environment where different industries require different needs. A number of variables such as individual personalities, age group differences, and cultural elements, can influence the work environment’s needs.

“What style of leadership works best?”. A question that we have been asked over and over. Although there is no definite way to settle this question, there is however a guide to what leadership style works better in a specific situation.

According to Daniel Goleman, the author of Emotional Intelligence-, there are 6 leadership styles; commanding, visionary, democratic, coaching, affiliative, and pacesetting leadership. We look at these leadership styles and think that they all sound effective. It’s true, all of them are in fact effective, however are they effective in the same way? No work setting is identical to the other, and no circumstances are the same as well. So, how do we know which leadership style is the suitable one to use?

Commanding leadership- where the leader imposes all their decisions and gives orders without any explanations to their team. This also means, a clarity in the rules and expectations of the roles in the team. During emergency situations such as natural disasters or crises, the pressure is high and confusion could take place. Receiving direct orders in a fast manner could help with getting the work done in this case. At other times, new joiners who could be inexperienced or dealing with new tasks, could also need clear directions and decisions to complete their tasks. This is where commanding leadership takes its role in being effective.

Visionary leadership- is when a leader sets a convincing and inspiring vision for the organization and motivates the others to work towards this vision. This is effective when an organization needs to undergo a transformation, or when the organization’s purpose and values need to be reinforced through motivation. You might be thinking, where could this leadership style go wrong? At certain times, short-term projects or immediate crises could take place. When setting long-term visions, short-term plans and crises are difficult to handle. During these times, the team needs more directive manners and immediate action plans.

Democratic leadership style- this leadership style involves the employees participating in taking decisions and sharing their input and ideas. At times, some decisions have a direct impact on the employees and require different perspectives. Also, when diverse perspectives are needed, creativity and innovation is encouraged to solve a problem or come up with new ideas. Sharing ideas and having an input does help in gaining different perspectives, however if some employees are resistant to change and do not support the aligned vision, this is not the best way to follow.

Coaching leadership style- mainly focuses on promoting individual growth through skill development.

Professional advancements benefit the team itself and the organization as a whole as the skills developed could enhance productivity. When individuals in a team seek for performance improvement and feedback, this leadership style serves as individualized attention that is effective for enhancing skills and receiving feedback. As much as skill development and growth sound effective, some individuals are resistant and do not seek personal growth, where the coaching style could face some challenges.


Affiliative leadership style- this style emphasizes on the importance of building relationships and fostering a sense of belonging in the work environment. Nowadays, psychological safety and well-being in the workplace are taking high importance. In times of conflict, this style emphasizes on communication and active listening which would resolve the conflict in a healthy manner. On the other side of the spectrum however, focusing on avoiding conflicts and seeking for harmony cold lead to lack of accountability within the team, through neglect of necessary feedback or performance expectations.

Pacesetting leadership style- this style involves setting high performance standards and representing excellence as a way of motivation towards performance. When having a high competent team, pacesetting works very efficiently as the alignment and motivation to strive for excellence is found, and therefore would satisfy short-term projects. You are probably thinking how this is an efficient way to reach better results, and you are right. However, what might happen here? This style could lead to competitiveness and hinder collaboration and communication.

Looking at the six leadership styles, and when it is most suitable to use each one of them efficiently; it is important to identify which leadership style fits the most with your work environment and the given circumstances, however in order to be aware of that, what is more important is to have emotional intelligence. Every leader chooses to lead and follow in different ways, however to be able to choose your style and recognize what your team really needs, one must be able to perceive their own and the other’s emotions.


Get your free assessment here