Leadership Styles

Activity 1

Think of a leader you admire. Try and make this as personal as possible.

What are their personal qualities?








Daniel Goleman’s 2000 sets out 6 leadership styles.

Table 1


In schools we have all met leaders who espouse the above labels, however, should we as leaders (at any level) constantly interrogate which leadership style we are using and with who?

Leadership Style Examples of when this style be implemented?
Coercive The organisation is in disarray. Change has to come from the top down. The leader is the basis of all direction.
Authoritative Followers are pulling in different directions, or working in silos. Vision led, leaders set the vision and the vision is the basis of the direction.
Affiliative The organisation is in a toxic state where interpersonal work relationships are impacting on outcomes.
Democratic Value and input are sort from followers. This also the effect of empowering followers.
Pace-Setting High pressure; similar to coercive but is high accountability at a high pace. To use this style you must have motivated followers with high competence.
Coaching When the long term in mind; building a sustainable organisation.

There are some ingrained themes here; all styles must be coupled with essential facets; like being driven by a strong moral purpose and integrity. This is because leaders can only lead if they have followers buy in.

People within an organisation will always resist change. This inertial movement is in many cases, not a rational action. It comes from the basic reaction of fear, ‘What if things get worse?’ Or ‘Things are okay (even if they are not relatively)’.

Leaders should also be aware that these styles are interchangeable and non-exclusive. It is imperative that leaders employ different styles. Goleman makes an apt analogy with golf clubs.

Activity 2

Think about 2 or 3 actions that your chosen leader has implemented since being in the role. What impact do their actions have on the climate of the organisation (positive or negative)?



Impact on the Climate.


‘Leaders who have mastered four or more – especially the authoritative, democratic, affiliative, and coaching styles – have the best climate and business performance.’

Daniel Goleman

Pacesetting and coercive styles both have a negative impact on the climate of the organisation. This does not mean they should not be utilised. As a leader you do not serve the climate of the school; you serve the vision of all stakeholders. Personally, my core purpose always brings my actions back to the pupils. These styles must not be used for prolonged periods of time.

Sustainable Change Starts with Trust.

I have led in schools for 15 years. In that time I have learnt that for any initiative or change to be built sustainably. Your followers need to build trust, in you as a leader and in your vision.

Trust is built in 2 ways:

  1. Through your actions– do you practice what you preach?
  2. Through conversation

The first is part and parcel of professional standards and the latter is equally as important.

 ‘The conversation is the relationship’

Susan Scott

To increase trust leaders have to be able to converse articulately and more importantly listen. In our classrooms, we would not speak to our pupils with the same tone and content. This variety is equally important, organisational school systems are equally important.

Goleman describes the style and interactions should be determined through the leader’s capacity for emotional intelligence. This is to first listen, evaluate and process the situation, environment and the individual. Understanding must come before any vision or change is propagated.

The 4 capabilities are self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and social skills.




Goleman, D. (2000). Leadership that gets results. Harvard Business Review, March – April, pp.78-90.


Cwalina, Wojciech & Drzewiecka, Milena. (2015). Ideal president like ideal boss? Looking for preferences of political leadership style: Cross-cultural study in Goleman’s typology. Przedsiębiorczość i Zarząddzanie. 16. 99-115.

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