StreetWise — Leadership Styles: Affiliative

April 12, 2019

From our friends at Eure Consulting:

This week we’re kicking off a six part series about leadership styles. We’ll be using the six Leadership Styles as defined by Daniel Goleman in his book Primal Leadership. Each has its pros and cons, each is rarely used alone, and none of them should be used all the time. Different stages of a company’s growth require different styles of leadership. The goal is to develop your ability to use each style so you can apply the right one to each situation. Every other week we will focus on a different style, helping you to understand the style itself and when and where it is needed. First up is the Affiliative Style.

The Affiliative Style is all about building relationships. An Affiliative leader is focused on the person and not the task. They take time to establish deep connections, share their feelings, and build trust. They are concerned for the employee as a whole, not just what work output they provide. They strive to create harmony and balance on the team. Because of this focus on connecting with individuals leaders who match this style build great loyalty within their teams.

Affiliative leadership is most effective when you need to build a more cohesive team, when you need to take time to boost morale, and when you need to improve communication. Because Affiliative leaders are great at creating connections with others, they are great at building mutual respect and confidence. They are able to bring groups together and smooth out differences. They are known for creating strong, happy, trusting teams. Companies that need to bring departmental silos back together would benefit from using the Affiliative style.

This style of leadership is not effective when used alone though. It’s over focus on praise tends to let poor performance fester which leads to disengagement and sanctioned incompetence. Affiliative leaders are also not good at helping team members grow and develop through constructive feedback. They are too concerned about damaging the relationship to deliver this critical information, so employees are left to try and figure out how to improve on their own.

The Affiliative Leadership Style is a resonant style, but it is still best used in conjunction with other styles. You can learn about the other five styles in our upcoming blogs.