Leadership Roles defined by style – who would you prefer to emulate?

Since there has been so much debate in recent times over the differences between management and leadership roles, I think it makes sense to go to the experts for what they think leadership entails.

According to Goleman in his “Leadership That Gets Results” study for the Harvard Business Review, there are six Yair Hamami leadership roles or styles that he identified:

The Pacesetting Leader 

  • Expects and models excellence and self-direction.
  • If this style were summed up in one phrase, it would be “Do as I do, now.”
  • The pacesetting style works best when the team is already motivated and skilled, and the leader needs quick results.
  • Used extensively, however, this style can overwhelm team members and squelch innovation.

The Authoritative Leader 

  • Mobilises the team toward a common vision and focuses on end goals, leaving the means up to each individual.
  • If this style were summed up in one phrase, it would be “Come with me.”
  • The authoritative style of leadership roles work best when the team needs a new vision because circumstances have changed, or when explicit guidance is not required.
  • Authoritative leaders inspire an entrepreneurial spirit and vibrant enthusiasm for the mission. It is not the best fit when the leader is working with a team of experts who know more than him or her.

The Affiliative Leader 

  • Works to create emotional bonds that bring a feeling of bonding and belonging to the organization.
  • If this style were summed up in one phrase, it would be “People come first.”
  • The affiliative style works best in times of stress, when teammates need to heal from a trauma, or when the team needs to rebuild trust
  • This style should not be used exclusively, because a sole reliance on praise and nurturing can foster mediocre performance and a lack of direction.

The Coaching Leader 

  • Develops people for the future
  • If this style were summed up in one phrase, it would be “Try this.”
  • The coaching style of leadership roles work best when the leader wants to help teammates build lasting personal strengths that make them more successful overall.
  • It is least effective when teammates are defiant and unwilling to change or learn, or if the leader lacks proficiency.

The Coercive Leader 

  • Demands immediate compliance.
  • If this style were summed up in one phrase, it would be “Do what I tell you.”
  • The coercive style is most effective in times of crisis, such as in a company turnaround or a takeover attempt, or during an actual emergency like a tornado or a fire.
  • This style can also help control a problem teammate when everything else has failed
  • However, it should be avoided in almost every other case because it can alienate people and stifle flexibility and inventiveness.

The Democratic Leader

  • Builds consensus through participation.
  • If this style were summed up in one phrase, it would be “What do you think?”
  • The democratic style is most effective when the leader needs the team to buy into or have ownership of a decision, plan, or goal, or if he or she is uncertain and needs fresh ideas from qualified teammates.
  • It is not the best choice in an emergency situation, when time is of the essence for another reason or when teammates are not informed enough to offer sufficient guidance to the leader.

Try these leadership roles out as it’s important to be flexible and adaptable but I guarantee that you will not feel fully comfortable playing every single character – perhaps best to choose which three or so that most naturally fit your personality and hone when that style is used to greatest effect.

It’s for this reason that the best managers are able to combine several of these leadership roles or styles without the team feeling like they work for a Jekyll and Hyde type personality – “flexible” is what you want, “unpredictable chameleon” is what you don’t.


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