Leadership is not a one-size-fits-all trait; it’s a dynamic skill that needs understanding and the ability to change. Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, and Annie McKee say that there are six emotional leadership styles: visionary, coaching, affiliative, democratic, pacesetting, and commanding. In this blog post, we’ll go into detail about each style and talk about how you can get your team members excited by choosing the style that speaks to their feelings the most.

The Six Emotional Leadership Styles

1. The Visionary Leader

Visionary leaders get their teams excited about the future by drawing a clear picture of it and showing them how to get there. They have a positive outlook on life and think that almost anything can be done if you have the right attitude. Even though this kind of leadership is usually associated with business owners and CEOs, its ideas can be used at any level of management.

When to Use It

Visionary leadership works best when a group or company is going in the wrong direction or doesn’t have a clear goal or vision. This style can also be helpful during times of change, like mergers, acquisitions, or market-entry strategies, when an appealing vision can serve as a rallying cry that brings everyone together.

How to Develop It

Articulate Your Vision: To become a visionary leader, the first thing you need to be able to do is explain your vision in an appealing way. This means explaining not only what you want to do but also why it’s important and how you plan to do it. This should be said in a way that is clear, brief, and makes you feel something.

Show the big picture: show how each task fits into the bigger goals of the company. This is important so that everyone on the team knows what their part is in the big picture.

Inspire and Motivate: A visionary leader needs more than an appealing vision to get their team to buy into that vision. They also need to inspire and motivate their team. This could be done by using convincing language, setting a good example, or giving them the tools and support they need to reach their goals.

Be flexible: Having a clear goal is important, but being too set in your ways can hurt you. The best visionary leaders are flexible in how they do things. They change their plans as things change, but they always keep their eye on the long-term goal.

Continuous Learning: Stay up-to-date on the latest trends, technologies, and changes in your field to make sure your vision is still current. Listen to what people say and be ready to change your plans as needed.


Steve Jobs is a great example of a boss with a vision. He was very good at predicting where technology and market tastes would meet in the future. Jobs led Apple through a number of important innovations, like the launch of the iPhone, which changed the way mobile technology worked. People believed in his mission, even when it seemed too big, because of the way he told stories and how passionately he worked for it. He didn’t just think about the goods Apple was making; he also thought about how these products could change the world in big ways.

2. The Coaching Leader

At their core, leaders who coach are teachers. They try to bring out the best in each person so that they can do their best. Coaching leadership is usually done one-on-one and works on long-term professional and personal growth rather than getting short-term tasks done.

When to Use It

This style of leading works best with team members who have a lot of promise but aren’t doing their best or don’t seem interested. It’s also helpful for high-performing team members who want to learn more or are getting ready for a new job within the company. This style works well in a company where the focus is on learning and growing all the time.

How to Develop It

Active Listening: Being able to listen actively is one of the most important skills for a Coaching leader. When you’re talking to someone, give them your full attention and show that you understand them. This helps figure out what the real problems are that need to be fixed.

Ask Thought-Provoking Questions: Instead of just giving tips or solutions, ask questions that get people to think for themselves and figure out how to solve problems on their own. Questions like “What do you think is the best way to handle this?” or “How do you feel about this?” can give team members the power to come up with their own answers.

Give positive Feedback: Leaders who coach are skilled at giving positive feedback that is clear, timely, and can be used. This is important for the business and personal growth of the people on your team.

Set goals and expectations: Work with the other people on your team to come up with goals that are difficult but doable. Set clear standards and a clear path to achieving those goals, and make sure they match with both the person’s career goals and the organization’s goals.

Invest time and money: It takes time and money to help people grow. This could be as easy as spending an extra 30 minutes a week with the person one-on-one, or it could be as complicated as making a training program that fits the person’s needs.

Evaluate and Follow-Up: Check in on the goals from time to time and make changes to the growth plans as needed. Celebrate the things that went well and think about what you could have done better.


The “Grow with Google” program from Google is a great example of Coaching leadership. This program helps people improve their skills, job, or business by giving them free training, tools, and advice. By putting money into people’s long-term growth and success, Google is building an ecosystem that helps both the individual and the business as a whole. This approach is in line with Coaching leadership, which is based on the idea that investing in the growth of each person leads to the success of the group as a whole in the long run.

3. The Affiliative Leader

Affiliative leaders put emotional needs ahead of work-related needs and try to make the team feel like it belongs to them. They think that team members are more likely to work hard if they feel safe and happy. This type of leadership is all about building strong emotional bonds and making people feel like a team.

When to Use It

The type of leadership called “affiliative” works best when you need to bring the team together, solve problems, or boost morale. This style can be very helpful when there is a lot of stress, when a team has failed, or when trust needs to be rebuilt. It also helps new teams that are still finding out how to work together.

How to Develop It

Increase Your Emotional Intelligence: To master this type of leadership, you need to know how to handle your emotions. It is important to understand and control your own feelings as well as be aware of those of others.

Active Listening and Empathy: Like Coaching leaders, Affiliative leaders should be good at active listening, but they should pay more attention to how people are feeling. Feel what your team members are feeling and support them without judging them.

Open and Honest Communication: Make sure everyone feels safe enough to say what they’re thinking and feeling. This can be done through open forums, team-building events, or regular check-ins.

Reward and Recognition: Make sure to publicly recognize both individual and team achievements. This not only shows appreciation for work, but also helps people feel like they are a part of a group that has done well.

Conflict Resolution: People often look to leaders who are good at building relationships to solve problems between people. They need to be good at mediating, which means being fair and understanding how people feel.

Build strong relationships: Take the time to get to know your team members as people. Find out what they want to do with their careers, what their personal interests are, and what problems they may be having. The better you can lead your team, the more you need to know about them.


The past CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, is a good example of Affiliative leadership. Schultz has always talked about how important each employee (or “partner,” as Starbucks calls them) is to the success of the business. Starbucks is unique in the retail industry because it gives both full-time and part-time workers health benefits and stock options. Schultz has been open about how much he cares about the well-being of his employees, which has led to a culture of mutual respect and trust among the staff. This emotional connection makes for a very dedicated team that shares the company’s values and, in the end, helps the business succeed.

4. The Democratic Leader

When making decisions, democratic leaders put group consensus and team feedback first. They help the team solve problems and make choices by drawing on the knowledge and skills of the team members. This kind of leadership creates an environment where people work together and take turns being responsible.

When to Use It

This style works best when you have an experienced team with specialized knowledge and you don’t have to make a choice quickly. It’s also helpful if you want team members to feel like they own a project or result, which will make them more motivated and committed.

How to Develop It

Foster Open Communication: Encourage open communication by making sure everyone on the team feels like they can share their thoughts and ideas without fear of being judged.

Encourage Participation: Encourage participation by asking all team members and partners for their thoughts. Make it clear that everyone’s view is important, and don’t let the loudest people take over the conversation.

Facilitate, Don’t Dictate: Don’t tell people what to do; as a Democratic leader, it’s your job to guide the conversation and keep it on track. Ask probing questions to learn more about an idea and help you think critically.

Be honest: Explain the problem, the criteria for a good solution, and the steps in making a choice. Transparency builds trust and lets people give better feedback.

Analyze and summarize: Take the time to look at all the feedback and views you’ve gathered. Combine these into a well-thought-out final choice that takes into account what the team has said.

Follow-up: Once a decision has been made, let the team know and explain how their ideas were taken into account and why the final choice was made. This ends the loop and builds trust for future decision-making that involves everyone.


Ben & Jerry’s, an ice cream business, shows how Democrats lead by the way they come up with new products. When thinking about new ice cream tastes, they actively ask customers what they think. This not only gets people excited, but it also gives important information about the market. By involving their customers in such an important part of their business, Ben & Jerry’s strengthens its brand community and makes sure that its products meet real customer wants and preferences.

In this way, the democratic style of leadership not only encourages a more engaged and committed team, but it can also help come up with better ideas and solutions by using the group’s combined knowledge.

5. The Pacesetting Leader

Pacesetting is a style of leadership that focuses on performance success and reaching goals. Pacesetters set high expectations for themselves and their teams, and they expect everyone to do their best. They care less about building agreement or fostering team dynamics and more about getting tasks done quickly and well.

When to Use It

This style works best when everyone on the team is highly motivated, skilled, and knows their jobs well. It’s especially helpful for short-term jobs where time is of the essence or when you want to make your team feel like they need to move quickly.

How to Develop It

Set clear goals: Make sure your team knows what you want from them in terms of performance and dates. Everyone will find it easy to aim for high performance if the rules are clear.

Lead by Example: Leaders who set the pace should be the first ones there and the last ones to leave. This shows their commitment and work attitude and sets the bar for the rest of the team.

Regular Monitoring: Pay close attention to success metrics and set up regular check-ins to see how things are going. If someone doesn’t live up to standards, changes can be made quickly.

Be objective and based on data: Focus on results that can be measured and base feedback and evaluations on data about performance instead of subjective criteria.

Know When to Step Back: If the Pacesetting style is used too much, it can be stressful for team members. To keep the team healthy, you should know when to switch to a more caring or democratic style.

Celebrate Success: Since this style is high-stress and high-reward, recognizing and celebrating success can boost mood and keep the pace going.


With his work at Tesla and SpaceX, Elon Musk is a great example of a boss who sets the pace. Musk is known for giving projects very aggressive deadlines, whether it’s launching the next SpaceX rocket or putting out a new Tesla car. Even though his tight deadlines can be stressful, they push his teams to make progress that many people thought was impossible. He is also a big motivator because he is very involved in the technical and operational parts of his companies. This shows that he doesn’t just set high standards, but also works hard to meet them.

But it’s important to note that the Pacesetting style can have problems if it’s not handled well. For example, if the team isn’t careful, they could get tired of working together and lose morale. It works best when it is used sparingly and in combination with other types of leadership that focus on the well-being and growth of the team.

6. The Commanding Leader

The Commanding style of leadership is powerful and orders people to do things right away. This method is often linked with a “do what I say” mentality that doesn’t give team members much room to give their own ideas. Even though this style may seem harsh, it can be very successful in certain situations, like emergencies or when people need to act quickly and decisively.

When to Use It

This style works best in times of trouble, when there isn’t much time to talk or argue. It can also be used when there are problems that need to be fixed right away or when the team needs a strong leader to get them back on track.

How to Develop It

Develop your authority: This starts with having a lot of knowledge and skill in your field, which gives your orders more weight.

Be decisive: It’s important to make decisions quickly and well. Learn how to make decisions under stress and stick to them.

Communicate clearly and directly: When you use the Commanding style, you can’t leave anything up to interpretation. Your guidelines need to be clear, detailed, and easy to follow.

Keep your cool: When things are stressful, your team will look to you for support. Keeping your cool helps you make better decisions and gives your team more faith in you.

Be fair, but firm: Getting things done quickly is important, but building trust by being fair and respectful even when giving directions is also important.

Know When to Let Go: The Commanding style can be suffocating if used too much, so know when to switch to a more collaborative or democratic style once the crisis is over.


General George S. Patton is a great example of how to lead by commanding. During World War II, Patton was known for his tactical brilliance. He was also known for making quick, often risky choices that caught the enemy off guard. He didn’t back down from what he wanted and was quick to act, which made him both admired and controversial. His way of leading helped him win many important battles, but he also had a deep knowledge of tactics and a knack for getting his troops excited, often by talking to them in a direct and charismatic way.

But, like any other style of leadership, the Commanding style has its flaws. If it isn’t handled well, it can stop team members from contributing, bring down morale, and cause a lot of stress. So, it is a tool that should be used sparingly and only in certain situations where the pros clearly beat the cons.


Each type of emotional leadership has a different effect on how your team feels and what drives them.

How well a style works depends on the situation in which it is used. You have to be flexible and willing to change how you lead based on what your team needs and how they feel.

In short, knowing about these six emotional leadership styles can help you become a much better leader. It will give you the tools you need to better inspire your team and lead them to success.


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