Leadership in a Nutshell

In one of my top five leadership books, Primal Leadership, Goleman, Boyatzis, and McKee unveil the core leadership styles that every leader should have within their leadership repertoire. They state, “Typically, the best, most effective leaders act according to one or more of six distinct approaches to leadership and skillfully switch the various styles depending on the situation” (53).

As this theory obviously stems from Blanchard, Johnson, and Hersey’s Situational Leadership model, Goleman, Boyatzis, and McKee also show the effects of each leadership style upon an organization’s emotional climate. The styles are:


  • How it builds Resonance: Moves people towards shared dream
  • Impact on Climate: Most strongly positive
  • When Appropriate: When changes require a new vision, or when a clear direction is needed.


  • How it builds Resonance: Connects what a person wants with the organization’s goals
  • Impact on Climate: Highly positive
  • When Appropriate: To help an employee improve performance by building long-term capabilities


  • How it builds Resonance: Creates harmony by connecting people to each other
  • Impact on Climate: Positive
  • When Appropriate: To heal rifts in a team, motivate during stressful times, to strengthen connections


  • How it builds Resonance: Values people’s input and gets commitment through participation
  • Impact on Climate: Positive
  • When Appropriate: To build buy-in or consensus, or to get valuable input from employees


  • How it builds Resonance: Meets challenging and exciting goals
  • Impact on Climate: Because too frequently poorly executed, often highly negative
  • When Appropriate: To get high-quality results from a motivated and competent team


  • How it builds Resonance: Sooths fears by giving clear direction in an emergency
  • Impact on Climate: Because so highly misused, highly negative
  • When Appropriate: In a crisis, to kick-start a turnaround, or with problem employees (55).

NOTE: The book strongly cautions the use of “Pacesetting” and “Commanding” as they can create the most dissonance within an organization. Yes, they are sometimes needed, but use sparingly!


~ by Dave Smith on January 8, 2009.

3 Responses to “Leadership in a Nutshell”

  1. After having just gone through a Partners retreat where 3 leaders try to agree on the “big things” of a company…I find these models great – on paper.

    It’s a little cliche as the softer forms of leadership (visionary, coaching, etc.) are all given positive vibes, while the harder forms of leadership (commanding) are given negative.

    In reality, leadership is messy – real messy.

    In a world where we have a Commander-in-Chief, Chief Executives, Senior Pastors, etc…there is still a prominent place in our organizations for a central leader and top down approach to leadership.

  2. doh! Anonymous again!

  3. Agreed…I think it is how that leadership is managed (as a servant or dictator), knowing that there are still times for top-down leadership…it is that we just don’t see it displayed in healthy means, therefor has a bad name.

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