By Amelia Lafratta

What is your leadership style?

In The New Leaders, Daniel Goleman identifies 6 leadership styles. In this blog, we will have a look at what these styles are and what it means to be an effective and catalytic leader, particularly in a time of change and uncertainty.

Read on if you want to be able to recognise the six components that make you an agile, motivated and authentic leader. You will find tips to fulfil more of your leadership potential and provocative points of discussion to share and debate with friends and colleagues.

Goleman’s six leadership styles are: Visionary, coaching, affiliative, democrative, pace-setting and commanding. You can find the book on Amazon.

Being visionary is critical for a leader, as you have to drive what is possible for the business, yourself and your people. Having a vision enables you to have a sense of direction to guide to success those around you.

An affiliative leader is one who is not afraid to be together with his or her people. They are amicable and don’t allow others to feel the hierarchy between colleagues. However, often this leadership style makes it hard to have difficult conversations, as the leader is very close to his or her people and can lack the distance to deal with uncomfortable discussions.

A democratic leadership style aims to get everyone involved, enabling people to voice what they think in a safe and accepting environment. The weakness of a democratic leader arises when a decision must be made, and someone has to take charge.

A pace-setting leader is someone who is really good at inspiring and energising his or her team, which results in a fast-growing business. It is like someone having their foot on the accelerator: the car will hit the speed target, but it will run out of fuel soon enough. This leadership style can be exhausting once significant growth has been reached.

A commanding leadership style, typical of business in the 70s, has recently received a lot of bad press. Giving people clear instructions and targets and a sense of direction is still a good thing, but it has to be administered at the right time and in the right amount.

Coaching leadership is the style that keeps them all together. In fact, most leaders adopt a blend of these ways to lead their people, focussing on a few approaches that they use predominantly. A leader must be able to combine and adapt their style to the person and the situation.


“Coaching is the glue that holds leadership together” Carole Gaskell

Leadership is about having all these styles at hand, uniting them through a coaching approach. Coaching is what underlies the other methods and can be applied to each in different contexts, as it allows for difficult conversations to run smoothly and for management to be focussed on people.

Watch our video on How Coaching Fits with Leadership

What is effective and catalytic leadership?

Effective leadership is not just about how you interact with others, it is also about making a huge difference with small amounts of effort and resources. Watch our webinar on Developing Catalytic Leaders to Drive Change.

“Catalytic leaders are real change agents in an organisation”Carole Gaskell

As Sue Coyne argues in her book, Stop Doing, Start Leading, leaders are people who connect with others, they are natural networkers, they are driven and are good coaches and mentors. They deliver results because they know the right person they need to get the job done.

However, it could be argued that being able to communicate and interact with people is not sufficient to make someone a good leader. Leaders need to drive action and deliver results by relying on their people.

Coaching your people will enable them to grow themselves and to personalise their learning journey. Leadership is also about fast tracking development and productivity from a business perspective, which entails driving change and achieving success.

Research we conducted in 2016 showed that catalytic leaders have the following attributes:

1. Be purposeful
2. High impact communication
3. Agile mindset
4. Understand motivation
5. Build community
6. Success

Focussing on WHY allows you to be adaptable to change, as your direction and goal will be clear even if there are obstacles on the way. Change is seen as danger, so people build resistance towards it, rather than taking it on within the flow. With a defined purpose that justifies the changes, it is more likely that people will get on board. 

1.Be agile

To have an agile mindset means to create new neural pathways (connections in the brain) fast and easily. This process is called “neuroplasticity” which is the ability to adapt old connections to make them relevant, getting rid of useless connections and reinforcing essential ones.

There are 6 R’s to neuroplasticity:

You can choose what attitudes you want to reinforce and which you want to reduce and shape your behaviours accordingly. This is a very powerful message, as it means that you can wire your brain as you want it to be, with a bit of effort and attention, to make chosen behaviours become instinctive.

Reinforced behaviours and frequent attitudes determine your mindset, so the more positive attitude you choose to adopt, the more optimistic your innate attitude becomes. Not only can you change your own perspective and mindset, but you can also change others’. Your mindset affects and influences those around you, which consequently creates a culture. Let your positive energy radiate to the team and the organisation, everyone will feel the benefits of an optimistic environment.

We will talk more about agile leadership, being adaptable and being able to learn new attitudes to improve effectiveness and wellbeing in the environment around the leader. This will be a topic to explore in the next weeks.

2.Focus on Motivation

Another attribute of catalytic leaders is understanding motivation, which is about getting rid of the assumption that people are motivated by what motivates the leader. This is a fallacy often encountered in companies that offer bonuses and salary raises to keep people in the business. However, when you know what really motivates your people, you realise that material rewards don’t work for everyone.

Understanding motivation means that a leader knows what he or she is motivated by to sustain their drive and vision for their team, but it is also about knowing what motivates their people to keep them engaged too.

A leader has to be aware of what fires people up: is it a bonus, or recognition, or fighting for a cause? Motivation is about aligning what drives you with what you do, when these are aligned, productivity and satisfaction will shoot up.

Exploring motivation in depth reveals so much about how to best communicate with different people, what is their reaction to change and innovation, what tensions may arise in a team, what do people value and how can leaders support their people. More of this will be uncovered in future discussions.

3.Authentic communication

The third attribute we will discuss is high impact communication. Being able to connect and influence others through words and body language is crucial for effective leadership, as it establishes human rapport and influences real collaboration. The secret to high impact communication is being true to yourself and your inner core. If you communicate from your authentic self, the message comes across with a different energy.

“To be a great leader, you need to be consistent and true to your inner core”Carole Gaskell

People trust a leader who is comfortable in their own skin and isn’t afraid of showing who they are. The energy in a room is different when people show up as their authentic selves: collaboration is effective, and communication is honest.

To learn more about how to be an impactful and authentic leader, able to communicate effectively with your team, follow the discussion in the coming weeks. We will recognise what blocks the energy flow and how to build teams who trust each other.

In Conclusion

We talked about to use Goleman’s six leadership styles united by a coaching approach to develop a people-focussed culture. Can you blend being visionary and pace-setting while coaching your people? How can you improve and adapt your leadership to best suit your team’s needs?

Connecting with people is the leader’s role. Knowing your people is key to unlocking their potential and helping them become more productive and more accomplished in their work. Catalytic leadership means being able to implement change through your team to make a big difference with small amounts of input. This is at the core of effective management.

We introduced three hot topics for further discussion to enhance leadership development. They are centred around learning agility, driving motivation and great communication to establish trust.

Stay tuned for more ideas on how to grow yourself and your team. Be prepared to embrace the present and the future to lead your business to success. For more information on leadership please click here.