What’s Your Leadership Style


“30% of the company’s profitability depends on the manager’s leadership style.” This is according to the study conducted by Daniel Goleman as published in the Harvard Business Review in 2000. I say, that is how huge the impact of leadership style is in any organization — may it be a non-profit or for-profit, private or public. But the reason of minding your leadership style is more than just about the profit. It is also about the real purpose of why you are leading in the first place.

Goleman identified six leadership styles: commanding (demands immediate compliance, “Do what I tell you.”), visionary (mobilizes people toward a vision, “Come with me.”), affiliative (creates harmony and builds emotional trust, “People come first.”), democratic (forges consensus through participation, “What do you think?”), pacesetting (sets high standard for performance, “Do as I do.”), and coaching (develops people for the future, “Try this.”).

You might be asking, “What then is the best leadership style?” What they found out in this study involving 3,000 mid-level managers is this, “Successful managers are able to switch styles as needed, depending on the situation.”

The call, therefore, is to adjust accordingly. The question now is, “Are you adjusting enough? Are you adjusting appropriately?”

In a Toastmasters educational project, I was asked to answer a survey to determine my leadership style. The leadership styles describe were almost similar to those presented by Goleman only that there were two additional styles called altruistic (personalizes approaches to meet the individualized needs of the team) and innovative (invites collaborative conversation and encourages innovative ideas). (Nole also that Goleman’s ‘visionary’ leader is termed as ‘authoritative’ and the ‘commanding’ is termed as ‘bureaucratic.’ Be mindful of this when you go for further reading of this topic but do not get caught up with differences in terminologies.)

I was introduced to the above-mentioned study of Goleman when I was starting as a young supervisor in a multinational company in 2013. Looking back at my life, I had the tendency to be more of an authoritative and bureaucratic leader. I have encountered both the advantages and disadvantages of doing so. For team members who understood the rules and the direction we set out to do, they accepted the challenge and performed as required. For the others, they were antagonized.

In one of my one-on-one conversations with my team members, somebody said, “Sir Chris, I salute you for being a good leader. You clearly set the direction and emphasize performance. But perhaps, you also need to assess how you are being received by other employees, especially in other departments we are working with. Perhaps you can be kinder or friendlier in your approach.” At first, I was taken aback. But I listened in and after realizing the wisdom in it, I took her words to heart and adjusted my approach as necessary. It was difficult but that was the start of my way of striving to put people first before performance, or pointing out performance but prioritizing the person first. I do not always do it ideally. I fail many times. But I am doing my best to adjust accordingly.

In the survey I recently answered, I scored most as an affiliative and coaching leader. What comes next is democratic leadership style. But the scores do not vary that much from the other leadership styles like altruistic, authoritative, innovative, pacesetting, and bureaucratic. Perhaps, my ideal self is intentional and conscious to choose depending on the situation. Just like your ideal self, too, I suppose.

On a conscious level, I knew I had to adjust accordingly. I’d like to think that you also know, by now, that there is no single leadership style to be used in all situations. I’d like to believe, by now, that you know that you need to adjust accordingly. That is what we want to be. That is what we aspire to be. That is what we need to be.

Personally, I admit, I am not always in my best self. But who is? When we are faced with tough challenges, when we get tired, when we are bombarded by problems, we tend to go back to our default leadership style and insist to use it even in times it is not longer appropriate and applicable. In worse cases, we do not even respond as leaders. But this is the reason why we are having this conversation.

Because we need to lead accordingly. Because we need to to adjust our leadership styles accordingly. Because we care about our purpose and the purpose of the organization in the first place. Because we do not just care about profits or performance, we also care about the people we are leading and journeying with.

(Chris Dao-anis, CPA, DTM is a leadership trainer, presentations coach, and an author of 4 books including ‘SPEAK: How to Craft and Deliver a Speech or Presentation with Competence and Confidence’. Get his book for free by attending the SPEAK 2.0 Intensive Public Speaking Workshop on May 25. Register now at http://bit.ly/SpeakBaguio. Meet good people who also want to grow at the Growth Summit 2019; sign up now at http://bit.ly/growthsummitph.)