The Affiliative leadership style is about people and their feelings – putting less emphasis on accomplishing tasks and goals and more on employees’ emotional needs. They strive to keep people happy and to create harmony. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they are softies – they may also be firm with reprimands when needed. But they are also open about their own feelings with those they lead.
Although limited as a direct driver of performance, the affiliative style has a surprisingly positive impact on a group’s climate. By recognizing employees as people – for example, offering emotional support during hard times – such leaders build tremendous loyalty.
When to use the Affiliative Style
This style is particularly helpful when trying to heighten team harmony, increase morale, improve communication, or repair broken trust in the organization. However, despite its benefits the affiliative style should not be used alone. For example, its focus on praise can allow poor performance to go uncorrected.
The affiliative style works well in close conjunction with the visionary approach. Visionary leaders state a mission, set standards, and let people know whether their work is furthering the group goals. Together with the caring approach of the affiliative leader, it makes a potent combination.
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