Emotional leadership according to Daniel Goleman

Who I am
Joe Dispenza


Emotional leadership according to Daniel Goleman

Last update: July 23, 2020

Knowing how to drive is an important skill for those who work in groups. Whether it's running a business or the need to motivate colleagues, being able to inspire and lead is essential to achieving any goal. There are many ways to achieve this ability and one of the most effective is emotional leadership.

This is a concept introduced by Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee in the book Being a Leader -
Lead others with emotional intelligence. According to the three authors, emotional leadership is divided into six types, each useful in a specific situation and developable by everyone, with the right commitment and involvement.

Undoubtedly, emotional leadership is not the only useful tool to lead a group or team, but it is very important. Let's see what it consists of, what are the main advantages and disadvantages compared to a more rational approach.

What is emotional leadership?

The leadership styles described by Goleman, Boyatzis and McKee differ from those described by others for the emphasis on the effect of emotions. Each of the six styles has a different impact based on how the group feels. So, depending on the result you want to achieve, one or the other will be more effective.

One of the most important concepts of the Being a Leader essay is that there is no one style of emotional leadership that is better than others. Each has a number of benefits and principles that are not always applicable. However, you need to know them all in order to decide which one to use. A good leader must be able to dominate all six of them and, above all, know how to choose the most suitable for the occasion.

Daniel Goleman

The six types of emotional leadership are:

  • Visionary
  • Training
  • Democratic
  • Affiliate
  • Demanding
  • Authoritarian

Despite having well-marked characteristics, they are all based on the ability to understand the emotions of others, hence the name emotional leadership. Is it always the best choice to use one of these six styles to lead a group? It depends on the situation we find ourselves managing.

Emotional leadership, advantages and disadvantages

Like any other skill or approach, emotional leadership has positive and negative aspects. Let's look at some of the most important ones that will help us decide whether appealing to emotions is the most appropriate choice or if, on the contrary, it is better to resort to an approach based more on logic and less on empathy.


There is no denying that leading a group with a good dose of emotional intelligence at your disposal offers benefits of all kinds. Among the main ones we find an excellent balance between the achievement of objectives and good relationships within the group. This probably means having to sacrifice, to some extent, the efficiency of the company, in exchange it will offer greater well-being and happiness to the employees.

A good emotional leader must be able to enhance the qualities of the team, to help others discover and develop talents and skills. One of the results will be a greater motivation of the group, fundamental for the good performance of the company.


Adopting emotional leadership, however, isn't always optimal. In some circumstances it can result in a number of negative repercussions, including:

  • Lead the leader to act impulsively. Such an attitude can be disadvantageous for the company and for the achievement of objectives if they require a more rational orientation.
  • Cause self-control problems. Sometimes, a leader has to make difficult, emotionally tough decisions. An excess of empathy can make management complicated or go against the process itself.
  • Slow down or worsen the results. In case the leader has to focus only on the results, as sometimes happens, it becomes a very difficult task if he cares too much about the emotions of the group.
  • Cause emotional fluctuations. An excess of empathy or connection with one's emotions can cause them to affect the mood of the leader too much. A leader, in principle, must be an example of solidity and stability; it becomes difficult to be when one is at the mercy of uncontrolled emotions.

In general, adopting one of the six emotional leadership styles is beneficial for the company or group. As we have seen, however, it is necessary to evaluate whether it is really the best choice for employees and for the objectives set. As always, the answer is by no means simple.

add a comment of Emotional leadership according to Daniel Goleman
Comment sent successfully! We will review it in the next few hours.