The affiliative leadership style was first described in 2002 by Daniel Goleman, documenting it as one of the 6 primary leadership styles. It sees a leader who would promote harmony among his followers and would help solve problems and conflicts personally. Such a leader would also be adept at building teams to make sure his followers feel connected to one another. For the followers, they can expect to receive a lot of praises from this style, but unfortunately, poor performance could go unchecked.
Goleman believed that this style of leadership would be most effective when staff morale is low because of stress, and there is a need for team building. When a department has to do some reorganization, for example, an affiliative leader can help followers with understanding how they would fit together into the new system.
The Affiliative Leader
This type of leader is a master at establishing positive relationships, and because followers will most likely adore him, they would be loyal, would share information and would have a high level trust, all of which help create a better office environment. An affiliative leader would also give frequent positive feedback to try to help everyone to be on the right track. Basically, this type of leader should be considered if an organization greatly needs a boost for morale and harmony, or if a previous event has incurred an atmosphere of mistrust within the group.
Common Qualities of the Affiliative Leadership Style
As this type of leading people creates harmony, it means connections within the organization are also established. It is known as an extremely mutual leadership technique, as it focuses on the emotional over the work needs of followers and teams. When utilized perfectly, it can prevent emotionally distressing instances and situations, such as negative feedback.
Also, the affiliative leadership style is often collaborated with visionary leadership and, as previously mentioned, is best used to get through stressful circumstances and to heal rifts. It is all about making staff members feel good, getting along with the management and embracing innovations for the betterment of a company. With regards to the leader, he should have the qualities that can help with becoming followed, where he has to give a lot of praises to resolve conflicts and issues regarding the management and the whole organizational system.
As this type of leadership is best for groups or organizations that are highly volatile and need reassurance, there can also be some kind of difficulties faced when implementing it. A good example is that poor employee performance would not be taken seriously. Also, leaders can make use of this approach only when necessary and should switch back to their primary authoritative method to prevent poor performance among staff members. And as this leadership style is all about the people, a leader should try to value his people and their emotions more than the organization’s task and goals, which is a big risk for a business’s bottom line.
Common Affiliative Leadership Values
Leaders who follow this approach strive to keep their followers happy and to create harmony among themselves, leading by building strong emotional bonds and, therefore, reaping all critical benefits through a high level of loyalty, which means this style of leadership should mark positive effects on communication. Another value that it should manifest is that it should build trust among members using all the advantages necessary in the areas of high performance and innovation. Flexibility should also be observed, since leaders would adjust company rules for maturing adolescents, while not imposing unnecessary strictures on how they get their job done. Basically, freedom is given to members in this leadership approach.
Pros and Cons
In a Career Builder survey conducted in 2014, 65% of workers are found to be feeling undervalued in their role, and in the same survey, it is found that the primary reason for employees to remain in their positions is that they like the people they are working with. With affiliative leadership, the first scenario would not happen, with the second scenario likely to be true. This is because employees under this leadership would feel welcome, happy and valued about reporting to work, which is very helpful when a workplace needs to recover from a difficult or stressful experience of upset or organizational change.
On the other side of the coin, affiliative leaders will have a difficult time dealing with inevitable problems and conflicts that may arise and will be less likely to meet these circumstances head on. Other than this, this type of leadership can also result in poor worker performance due to their complacency of the stream of positive feedback and unwillingness to strive for the better.
When to Use It?
If the affiliative leadership style were summed up in a single phrase, it would be, “People come first.” As what is commonly known, it works best in times of stress when members of staff need to rebuild trust of the organization or heal from a trauma. This means that this approach should not be employed exclusively, since sole reliance on nurturing and praise can bring about lack of direction and mediocre performance.
A Great Example of an Affiliative Leader
A classic example of an affiliative leader is the heart and soul of the New York Yankees, Joe Torre. During the 1999 World Series, he ably tended to his players’ psyches, as they endured the emotional pressure from the pennant race. Throughout the season, he made a special point to praise Scott Brosius, whose father had died during the season, to keep him committed to his game even as he mourned.
At the team’s final game celebration party, Torre specifically sought out right fielder Paul O’Neill, who still chose to play in the decisive game even when he received the news of his father’s death that morning, bursting into tears the moment the game ended. Torre also used their victory celebration’s spotlight to praise other 2 players whose return was threatened by contract disputes. By doing so, he was able to send a clear message to his team and the owner that he valued his players greatly, that it would be too much to lose them.