Affiliative Leadership Style

As a leader, you will inevitably be challenged with situations where people will disagree with what you or others are saying or doing and there will be times of confrontation. 

Regardless of your best efforts these confrontations and the emotions that come attached to them cannot be avoided. 

Making mistakes or misjudging what to say and when does not make you a bad leader, disagreement and conflict come hand in hand in any environment where people interact with each other. 

What can make the difference between someone who may be deemed to be an incompetent leader and a great leader is how quickly and effectively we can resolve these negative and unwanted emotions.

Correctly Used:

Motive people during stressful circumstances

Heal rifts between people

Clear up any misunderstood intentions

How to Improve Affiliative Style Leadership

One of the main challenges encountered with the broken down relationship is that the parties involved have taken either the silence or the violence tactic. 

Neither one is desirable and both are extremely disruptive to any organisation or person trying to achieving their goals through engaging people.

Step 1 – Spot the Tactic

1. Silence

2. Violence


In its most basic description this is having an opinion and deciding not to discuss it, the problem with this is that nobody knows what they’re thinking so something might have been very offensive to them or go against their values and people do not change what they are saying or doing because they are blissfully unaware of this. 

If people understood the person’s thoughts and feelings they would likely change their actions but a lack of feedback results in no change so you end up with a resentful statemate, often with nobody understanding why!


This may be arguing, gossiping behind people’s back or open disagreement and unfortunately even disrespectful behaviour. Some people are more comfortable with this type of behaviour than others, but nobody would choose to interact with people in this way. This is the result of someone feeling out of control of what is happening in their life and is their way of attempting to get some influence back over what is happening.

Once you have established if the people involved have used either silence or violence (and it may be both) then you will need to talk about it. The idea is to get as much of the truth out in the open as possible. The better the understanding each person has of the others side of the situation the easier it will be to fix those broken bonds and get everything back on track again. To do this use facts and intentions or what people want and do not want.

Affiliative Leadership Style Basic Example

“Tim, I’ve spoken Sally and she has said that earlier today you ignored her and wouldn’t speak to her when she asked you to move the boxes upstairs, I thought it didn’t sound like you but other members of the team confirmed it too. (FACT)

I know you don’t want to work is such a hostile working environment where everyone sees you as the unreasonable one (WHAT THEY DO NOT WANT) and I’m guessing you want everyone to be professional and get our results that have slipped this week back on track? (WHAT THEY DO WANT)”

Once you can get people talking it is much easier to resolve any conflicts they may have

Top Tips Using Affiliative Style Leadership

1. Seek to understand how people feel and what made them feel that way

2. State facts to encourage openness and transparency

3. Use intentions, specifically what you want and what you do not want

The affiliate leadership style has harmony in the environment as its top priority. To achieve this the emotional needs of both the individual and the team are put first. This leadership style puts people first and is used to resolve any conflict or tension that may have caused a breakdown in relationships. When used correctly and the negative emotional influence has been resolved, the Affiliative leadership style will naturally lead to other leadership styles

Affiliative Leadership Style Summary

Daniel Goleman’s 6 Leadership Styles

For more information about the advantages and disadvantages of each of the different leadership styles and to see examples of how each of the leadership styles can be used effectively click through each of the links below.

  1. Commanding Leadership Style
  2. Visionary Leadership Style
  3. Affiliative Leadership Style
  4. Democratic Leadership Style
  5. Pacesetting Leadership Style
  6. Coaching Leadership Style

Which is the best leadership style?

Learn More Leadership and Management Skills

 Understand the most common mistakes people make when confronted with an excuse

 Discover how you can use the good performance of others to motivate improvement

 What to do when someone cannot see they are doing something wrong.

 What you should do when you need to give someone negative feedback and how to do it without it being awkward

 The 3 step feedback checklist. What every communicator should know before deciding to give any feedback

 Find out how to use our powerful phrases that will squash any excuses

 What you need to know before attempting to get new people to perform as well as experienced employees

 Discover how to get stubborn people to change what they are doing, without any confrontation or awkwardness – even when they have been doing the same thing for years