The 6 types of leadership according to Goleman

The attitude of a leader determines the work environment and the way in which objectives are achieved. Today we talk about the types of leadership according to Goleman.

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist Elena Sanz on November 18, 2021.

Last update: November 18, 2021

Daniel Goleman is an author recognized throughout the world because he is the creator of the concept emotional intelligence. Although it is true that this work occupies a large part of his work, in reality there are many contributions that the American psychologist has left to humanity. Today we will talk about one of them: Goleman’s leadership types.

Goleman’s ideas about what leadership is we find in works such as Leadership That Gets Results, Leadership: The Power of Emotional Intelligence and Primal Leadership, the latter co-authored with Boyatzis and Mckee. From this, 6 types of leadership are established according to Goleman, which we will review one by one in the following lines.

Daniel Goleman’s Leadership Types

Before continuing, you should keep in mind that Daniel Goleman’s leadership types do not develop in isolation. A good leader, argues the author, combines several of them according to the context. Although one will usually be the dominant one, the others are also part of a true leader’s catalog of options. Let’s see what they are in detail.

1. Authoritarian or visionary

Authoritarian or visionary leaders, also known as authorizedThey are those who are very sure of their abilities. They set goals to solve problems, and they do so based on expectations for the future.



One of the most striking characteristics of these leaders is that allow those under their authority to take calculated risks. That is, they motivate their employees to innovate or experiment; as long as it is done on the basis of realistic and beneficial goals for the company.

They are lovers of motivation and teamwork. We also highlight the following points:

  • They share their knowledge openly.
  • They make their employees work around the same purpose.
  • The means or channels to achieve this purpose are not closed.
  • You work in a very organized environment.
  • They allow the contribution of ideas and experimentation (aimed at fulfilling the set goal).
  • They allow you to assume and let others take a certain amount of risk.

2. Coaching

The group leader who wants to improve the performance of the staff based on the personal development of each one fits the profile of the coaching.

There is no literal translation of coaching in Spanish, although instructor, motivator or advisor could approach you. In this case, and in contrast to the previous one, the leader coaching it focuses more on personal development than on accomplishing specific tasks.



In this way, leaders of this type establish a close relationship with their subordinates and are open to feedback from processes. The closeness prevents the employee from feeling like a simple tool, which increases the commitment or effort that he puts into a task. The following ideas summarize his attitude very well:

  • They identify the weaknesses and strengths of their employees (and motivate them to work on them).
  • They are genuinely interested in the contributions, capabilities, and attributes of the work group.
  • They take into account that they work with emotional human beings, not with automatons.
  • They tolerate short-term faults or mistakes and mediate for employees to learn from them.
  • They delegate challenging tasks for staff to outdo themselves.
  • They listen to their employees and talk to them.

3. Affiliatives

As in the previous case, affiliative leaders focus more on emotions than on specific objectives, but this time they do so with a different intention. They seek to build a harmony at work, a sense of belonging, comfort and stability. In this way, all workers develop a distinctive trait of loyalty and commitment.

A loyalty and commitment that will be manifested not so much towards the leader himself, but to the ideals of the company. That is to say, each of the employees feeling comfortable with their work will also develop a greater natural empathy for the goals and prosperity of the company. These leaders are characterized by the following:

  • They are aware of the needs of employees.
  • They promote communication in the team.
  • They do not impose strict rules that make workers uncomfortable.
  • They permanently build a sense of belonging.
  • They attribute the results to the workers and not to themselves.
  • They avoid toxic, disorganized or uncontrolled environments.

4. Democratic

One of the most interesting paradigms of David Goleman’s leadership types is the democratic leader. Even if you consider yourself a leader, in practice it assumes the attitude of an employee more. This is because the opinions of your workers are as important as yours, so they consider them before making any move.

For all this, democratic leaders are great communicators and continuously establish a two-way dialogue. It assumes a true team attitude, in which they work together with others in the achievement of an achievement. Being a democratic leader can go a long way when you don’t have a clear idea of ​​how to proceed. We highlight the following distinctive points:

  • They listen to and analyze all points of view.
  • They carry out continuous group work sessions to discuss an action.
  • They do not punish opinions contrary to their own.
  • They involve everyone in the process.
  • They establish a work environment with a great communicational load and respect.
  • They function as one of the team.

5. Leaders who set the pace

The leaders who set the pace are those who are always in pursuit of the highest standard of quality and performance. They demand of themselves and their employees to be the bestSo they are always handing out assignments one step higher than the capabilities of their workers.

They are obsessed with the perfection, growth and prosperity of their company. This leads them to identify those employees who are not keeping up with the others. If it slows down a process or prevents others from giving their maximum capacity, their pulse does not tremble to find a replacement. In practice they are distinguished by the following:

  • They gather highly qualified personnel in their work.
  • They pressure their staff to achieve short, medium and long term goals.
  • They set high standards of performance.
  • They do not take into account the weaknesses of the team, nor do they behave like a member of it.
  • They prevent open participation. Everything revolves around your goals and objectives.
  • The numbers and the results are above all.

6. Dominant leaders

The boss who asserts his opinions and decisions regardless of the damage to the staff or the company is a typical authoritarian leader.

Finally, the types of leadership according to Daniel Goleman are complemented by the dominant leaders. These wield absolute power, so that your decisions are the first and last word. They usually give orders without explaining the reasons for them, so that everyone must submit to their rules and comply with them fully.

They are cold and distant with their workers, and they do not allow them to depart from the work pattern they have assigned for them (even when this implies an improvement in results). They make discipline their banner, to the point that they can establish coercive measures. Some signs that identify it are the following:

  • They impose total obedience to their employees.
  • They do not take into account the initiatives of the working group.
  • They do not tolerate mistakes, no matter how small.
  • They distribute criticism without argument or reason.
  • They have an intimidating attitude.
  • They do not praise or appreciate the work of their staff.

As we have noted, Daniel Goleman’s types of leadership are not meant to be practiced in isolation. There are times to assume one or another attitude, it all depends on the context. Recognizing what type of leader is right for such a situation is something you should do based on experience and your skills.

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