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Team High Five



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

Goleman proposes that effective leaders use a combination of six distinct leadership styles. They need to fluid in dynamic in the application of different styles: "... the research indicates that leaders with the best results do not rely on only one leadership style, they use most of them in a given week - seamlessly and in different measure - depending on the business situation."


The six leadership styles are:

  • Coercive: demand immediate compliance

  • Authoritative: mobilize people toward a vision

  • Affiliative: create emotional bonds and harmony

  • Democratic: build consensus through participation

  • Pacesetting: expect excellence and self-direction

  • Coaching: develop people for the future.


Goleman expands on the concept of emotional intelligence. He breaks the construct down into the following elements:

  • Self-awareness 
    - emotional 
    - accurate 
    - confidence

  • Self-management 
    - self-control 
    - trustworthiness 
    - conscientiousness 
    - adaptability 
    - achievement orientation 
    - initiative

  • Social Awareness 
    - empathy 
    - organizational awareness 
    - service orientation

  • Social Skill 
    - visionary leadership (take charge and inspire) 
    - influence 
    - developing others 
    - communication 
    - change catalyst 
    - conflict management 
    - building bonds 
    - teamwork and collaboration

Bustling New York

Emotional intelligence can be increased. It needs to be done slowly through coaching. The use of 360 degree feedback is useful for uncovering blind-spots. It involves more than the neocortex – it is not just cognitive, "Brain circuits that carry leadership habits have to unlearn the old ones and replace them with the new one.". The behavioural sequence needs to be repeated - until new neural pathways become the default. 

Goleman gave specific attention to coaching, suggesting that this form of leadership allowed for short term failure for long term learning. He wrote, "Of the six styles, our research found that the coaching style is used least often."

The leaders interviewed initially thought that coaching would take too long, but realised that it paid dividend in the long term. Coaching was seen as distinct in focusing on personal development rather than the immediate task. It was, however, seen as effective in improving results, "The reason: it requires constant dialogue, and that dialogue has a way of pushing up every driver of climate": 

"In short, it [coaching] works best with employees who want to be coached. By contrast, the coaching style makes little sense when employees, for whatever reason, are resistant to learning or changing their ways. And it flops if the leader lacks the expertise to help the employee along. The fact is, many managers are unfamiliar with or simply inept at coaching, particularly when it comes to giving ongoing performance feedback that motivates rather than creates fear or apathy" 

He writes, "Although the coaching style may not scream 'bottom-line results', it delivers them". 

Goleman found that leadership effectiveness tends to be negatively impacted by the pacesetting style (it can be overwhelming – but good with self-motivated professionals) and also negative with the coercive styles. This style can be effective but should be used with extreme caution. It is useful in emergencies and for some problem employees.

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