Have you ever worked in an environment with a manager who, for whatever reason, just wasn’t able to lead well? Maybe they didn’t respond to certain situations correctly, or they focused too heavily on one aspect of the business, ignoring important issues for your team.

Management is no easy task, and many of us go into a management role unprepared for its challenges. There are many effective leadership styles, but today we’re going to focus on one type of business leadership: affiliative leadership. We’ll discuss what it is, the history behind it, and what it means for you and your team.

What is Affiliative Leadership?

This leadership style is all about teamwork and the dynamic of the group. The primary goal of affiliative leadership is connecting people and getting everyone to work harmoniously. {click to tweet}

Daniel Goleman, in his book Primal Leadership, warns that this leadership style shouldn’t be used on its own but in conjunction with 5 other leadership styles. Goleman suggests that the affiliative approach is most valuable if you want to increase harmony, morale, and communication within your team, or if you need to rebuild trust within your organization.


Affiliative leadership is all about teamwork and the dynamic of the group.


Where Did the Affiliative Leadership Style Come From?

Daniel Goleman is an author and a scientific journalist who has written multiple books on a variety of topics, including meditation and the importance of focus. He is most famous for his work on emotional intelligence, outlined in his book of the same name. A few years after publishing Emotional Intelligence, he wrote Primal Leadership, in which he discusses 6 leadership styles that leaders should employ based on the needs of the team or the organization. Goleman makes it clear in his writing that a leader shouldn’t employ just one style of leadership but should be able to move in and out of them fluidly as the need arises.

What Does This Mean for You?

Here’s a personal example. I once worked for a boss who employed affiliative leadership all the time. When he took over my department, it was in a state of dysfunction and we struggled to get along with each other. I didn’t realize it at the time, but he was the right leader for us during that season. We were able to move forward and grow together as a team in a way that we wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.


The affiliative approach is most valuable if you want to increase harmony, morale, and communication within your team.


When you’re working for a leader who is employing this leadership style, I would encourage you to take a look at the state of your team. If, as a group, you’re having trouble working together harmoniously or having trouble communicating, that could help explain the necessity of that particular leadership style. If that’s simply the way your boss or manager leads, I would recommend being diligent to ensure that you keep your level of excellence up. It can be tempting, when working under a person employing affiliative leadership for an extended period of time, to believe that mediocrity is acceptable. If this is the case, it’s a perfect opportunity for you to go above and beyond in your job!

Affiliative leadership is an important leadership style, but it isn’t the only one. If you’re leading other people, I encourage you to research Goleman’s 6 leadership styles and identify which one you have a tendency to employ the most. Which one do you use the least? By knowing our personal tendencies we can lead others better.


What do you think about the affiliative leadership style? What role should it play in the workplace?

Facebook Comments

All rights reserved Creative Mind Lab.