Interpersonal leadership: what is it and its different styles

Whether you are a manager or team leader, if you want to succeed in your work project, you should know...
28 September 2022

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Interpersonal leadership: what is it and its different styles

Whether you are a manager or team leader, if you want to succeed in your work project, you should know that you will need almost as many interpersonal as technical skills

Your ability to establish interpersonal leadership with team members will determine in obtaining good final results. Interpersonal skills play a fundamental role in developing a leader’s work as soon as they have to go beyond the previously planned program.

You cannot forget that you work with many people at all levels, both inside and outside the company. Many of them you don’t see face-to-face, but you still need to establish a bond with them to improve the chances of success of the final work. 

But how is this relationship managed? Through Interpersonal Leadership. In this post, we tell you what it is all about. 

What is Interpersonal Leadership?

Interpersonal leadership is a mode of self-expression that makes a difference and has the potential to enrich others’ lives. The main objective of this type of leader -who must have important interpersonal skills- is to bring out the best in each person. 

Interpersonal Leadership bases all its effectiveness on Interpersonal and emotional intelligence: 

Interpersonal leadership: what is it and its different styles

What is Interpersonal Intelligence?

It is the ability to understand other people (f.e, what motivates them) and to work cooperatively with them. The core of interpersonal intelligence comprises all those capabilities that enable us to identify other people’s moods, emotions, motivations, and expectations and respond to them appropriately.

To be more effective with others, we must first be more effective with ourselves. Thus, instead of finding the right partner (in business, for example), working on becoming the right partner is preferable.

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Interpersonal Leadership styles

A boss can take success personally, impose his position and opinion, and often inspire fear. In contrast, a leader shares success with his team, listens, generates enthusiasm and encourages improvement. Effective leaders have a team of followers, while the manager has subordinate employees.

One of the most exciting contributions to leadership theory was developed by the well-known American psychologist and Harvard professor Daniel Goleman. The following are the six types of leadership according to Goleman:

Coercive Leadership

It is also known as autocratic leadership. This is the leader who gives orders and commands. They seek immediate task fulfillment through precise instructions. This style should only be used when it is essential, as it can break the work environment in the long term. Workers can become demotivated, stop collaborating, and stop sharing ideas for fear of being reprimanded.

It could work in a crisis situation when an immediate reaction is a determining factor.

Interpersonal Leadership styles

Authoritative Leadership

In this orientative kind of leadership, the leader is a visionary. The leader is a visionary with a clear long-term vision. They mobilize people with their enthusiasm.

Authoritative leadership generates a solid commitment to the organization’s objectives and strategy. The rules for success apply equally to everyone, allowing them to experiment and innovate. This style improves the work environment.

It usually works well in most situations, although it fails if the team is made up of more experienced experts than the leader. It generates an excellent capacity for employee engagement..

Affiliative Leadership Style

This leadership style seeks to create a harmonious relationship between people, allowing employees the freedom to work in the most effective way they feel.

It is an appropriate type of leadership if you want to build harmony in the team, improve communication, when the team is new or when you need to motivate them during high-stress situations. On the other hand, it can give the impression that poor performance is tolerated. It should be combined with other styles, such as the orienting style.

Democratic Leadership Style

In this leadership position, workers have a say in decisions increasing flexibility and accountability. The participative leader always seeks to make decisions by consensus and practices active listening; people in a democratic system tend to be very realistic about what can and cannot be accomplished.

This type of business leadership is effective when the leader is uncertain about the best course of action or when they need to generate new ideas.This style loses its meaning when employees are not educated or do not have enough information to provide valid opinions.

Pacesetting Leadership Style

The leader sets precise guidelines and expects people to follow them. The standards are usually clear to the leader, but they may not be explained clearly and expects people to know what to do. Many employees feel overwhelmed by the demands for excellence from the leader who sets the standards. 

Flexibility and accountability are absent, and the work becomes task-focused and routine. If the leader is missing, people feel directionless as they are used to the leader setting the rules.

This interpersonal leadership skill style should be used rarely,  as it destroys the climate of a team. It can be helpful when we have a great field expert who seeks to learn by imitating their working methods.

Pacesetting Leadership Style

Coaching Leadership Style

According to Goleman, the main objective of this leadership style is the development of people’s talent

It helps employees identify their strengths, weaknesses, and career aspirations, helping to set development goals. These leaders give challenging tasks to their employees and are willing to put up failures.

This leadership works well if employees are aware of their weaknesses and want to improve their performance. It makes little sense if they are resistant to learning or improving.

This kind of effective leadership also helps to improve workers’ verbal communication skills and, consequently, to enhance interpersonal communication.

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