Think of the different leaders—coaches, supervisors, mentors, and more—you’ve encountered throughout your life. Were they all the same?

Probably not. Leaders have different approaches, better known as leadership styles, that they use to inspire, motivate, and oversee a team of people. 

Understanding their own go-to methods, attitudes, and personality traits is crucial for effective leaders. When you identify and analyze your default approaches, you’re more equipped to recognize your strengths and shortcomings, adjust your communications skills for specific situations, foster a positive work environment, and help your team achieve success. 


So, what leadership style do you use with your hospitality team? You can find out (and get some bonus tips about how to improve employee engagement) by taking this short leadership style quiz.

Now that you have the answer about what leadership style you tend to use in your day-to-day interactions with your hospitality employees, let’s talk about what that means. 

There were six possible results of the quiz, all based on the leadership styles identified by psychologist and author, Daniel Goleman. Through his research, he identified six different approaches typically employed by people in leadership roles. These are:

  • Commanding
  • Visionary
  • Democratic
  • Coaching
  • Affiliative
  • Pacesetting 

All of these styles relate to the concept of emotional intelligence, which is the ability of a leader to recognize and manage their own emotions as well as the emotions of others. Each of Goleman’s leadership styles has a different impact on employees’ perceptions and feelings. 

Below, we’ll share some information about the basics of each leadership style—as well as what teams and situations they’re a good fit for. 


1. Commanding Leadership Style

A commanding leader is one that’s mostly rigid and prescriptive. They believe that the best way to be a successful leader is to share clear tasks, expectations, and directions with their team members. 

From there, it’s up to employees to fulfill those responsibilities—or deal with the consequences of underperformance. 

This approach doesn’t emphasize a lot of collaboration and feedback, and instead prioritizes control, monitoring, and hierarchy. 

This Style Is a Good Fit When:

  • Projects or tasks need to be completed and delivered quickly, without a lot of debate
  • Working in an environment that has many regulations and compliance requirements


2. Visionary Leadership Style

If you’re a visionary leader, you’ve probably referred to yourself as a “big picture thinker” before. This type of leader is very focused on the overarching vision or end goal and believes it’s their role to rally everybody around that cause. 

A visionary leader is less hung up on the minutiae of the team’s day-to-day operations and instead likes to stay zoomed out to focus on the broader mission and objectives.

While these leaders don’t get too into the weeds, they’re exceptionally skilled at motivating employees and generating enthusiasm about their goals and ideas. 

This Style Is a Good Fit When: 

  • Teams are navigating significant changes or periods of uncertainty
  • An organization is chasing an aggressive goal


3. Democratic Leadership Style

When thinking about what makes a democratic leadership style, think about the root word: democracy. That’s at the heart of this approach, as democratic leaders are always willing to involve their team members in decision-making processes. 

These leaders don’t believe it’s their responsibility to make choices in a vacuum, and instead, care deeply about soliciting feedback and inviting their direct reports to make meaningful contributions. 

Ultimately, the leader does still have the final say. But, democratic leaders aren’t quick to steamroll their teams and would instead let them know that their opinions are heard and valued. 

This Style Is a Good Fit When: 

  • There’s plenty of time to deliberate and collect feedback about a choice
  • The leader lacks specific subject matter expertise to make a decision


4. Coaching Leadership Style

Coaching leaders believe that authentic leadership means focusing on the growth and development of employees first and foremost.

These leaders are passionate about helping their team members and direct reports understand their strengths and weaknesses. They encourage employees to learn and advance in a way that supports both their individual goals and the company’s goals. 

While this type of leader is highly supportive, that doesn’t mean they sugarcoat things. They’re more than willing to challenge ideas and provide constructive feedback in order to help employees achieve their full potential. 

This Style Is a Good Fit When: 

  • There’s psychological safety on the team, and employees are eager to grow
  • Team members trust their leader and their level of expertise


5. Affiliative Leadership Style

Conflict is inevitable on nearly every team, but an affiliative leader views it as their duty to ensure the team works as cohesively and harmoniously as possible. 

This means that the leader not only needs to manage conflicts between team members, but also between themselves and their direct reports. Affiliative leaders are vulnerable and transparent, and they model the characteristics and emotional intelligence that they want others to emulate. 

These leaders do care about delivering high-quality work in a timely manner, but their primary focus isn’t on what gets done—it’s on how it gets done. 

This Style Is a Good Fit When: 

  • A team experiences a lot of conflict and collaboration has been suffering
  • A leader is able to combine an affiliative style with one or several other styles


6. Pacesetting Leadership Style

A pacesetting leader is results-driven and has undoubtedly high expectations. They strive to continuously find ways to work more efficiently and effectively, and they expect their team members to do the same. 

Pacesetting leaders aren’t content with mediocrity, and they also aren’t shy about calling out or correcting poor performance. They don’t want that to slow them down—team members should keep up or get out of the way. 

While this approach can be stress-inducing, it can also result in highly-motivated and high-performing teams. 

This Style Is a Good Fit When: 

  • A team needs to deliver quick and impressive results
  • Team members are experienced and motivated to perform to a high standard


Leadership Isn’t One-Size-Fits-All

No two leaders are the same—they use different leadership styles to motivate employees and help their teams achieve their goals.

If you haven’t already figured out what type of leader you are, remember to take the quiz above. 

Not only will you get your result, but you’ll also receive some bonus tips about how to improve employee engagement so that you can tailor your approach and lead a high-performing hospitality team.