“To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.” — Eleanor Roosevelt 1
Imagine if someone understands your problem in the way you understand it? How would you feel if you know there is someone who would help you in your lows, talk you through the situation and give suggestions that would help you out? It would feel amazing wouldn’t it? It will also make you feel important which would translate into performance as well. That’s what an Affiliative Leader is able to achieve. As a leader, you must know who your workforce is, not as employees but as individuals. You should know how to connect with them and understand them as they are. It is only when you connect with them at a personal level, the trust and the bond strengthen.
An Affiliative leader’s focus is to strengthen the teamwork and create harmony in the group by linking the employees to one another. The leader makes an effort to keep employees satisfied, create harmony, and build team significance. The Affiliative leader focuses more on people than on the task. The utmost priority for an Affiliative leader is the feelings or emotions that the employee holds for the work, work-culture and the workforce. Conflict resolution, recognizing, empathy, and building trust are some key competencies of these leaders.
When to use and when not to use
The entire focus of an Affiliative leader is the person rather than the task. The leader genuinely cares for the person and hence is ready to sacrifice performance for a while. An Affiliative leader values the behavior an individual demonstrates equally as he values the work done by the person.
Affiliative leadership style is most effective in situations when the team needs to re-build trust or to alleviate tension or conflict within the team. This style is handy when the team struggles with heavy workload and stress. Also, this style has a high element of one-on-one connect with the team members. Hence, this style is also handy in situations when you see an individual in need of counselling or emotional support. The leader plays an integral part to resolve conflicts between diverse and conflicting groups or individuals. To be able to achieve this, the leader must be comfortable being emotionally vulnerable herself. In order to achieve this high level of emotional connect, the leader has to open up about her insecurities and challenges she faces internally.
This style will fail miserably in times that need high performance delivery. Hence sustained usage of this style, especially in wrong situations, may also lead to mediocre/ low performance, favoritism and frustration in the workplace. Also, in situations when an individual’s performance is not adequate, she might need corrective feedback rather than emotional connect. Finally, it will also not work with individuals who are performance or task driven. Any attempt to create strong emotional bonds may be perceived as inappropriate or distracting from core work.
Impact on Company culture and employee morale
Affiliative leadership style helps leaders develop strong teams by enabling a healthy and friendly work-environment. Since there is a high focus on creating trust and harmony, this style has a high impact on Ownership and Wellbeing in the Workplace Experience. The leaders aid open communication and stress on building relationships. They not only communicate this but also facilitate the same in the organization. Such leaders are able to bring different groups together to deliver to a common goal. As a result, organization will see high levels of collaboration. Overall, the Affiliative leadership style boosts a sense of belongingness in the organization.
Given that entire focus remains on individuals, this style sacrifices on organizational focus on performance. Moreover, this style also impacts agility in a negative way as there is no focus on quick decision making or being nimble. Over usage of the style or when used with individuals that do not need the same can cause the individual to be unmotivated. Also, usage in wrong situations or incorrect usage can evoke negative emotions such as feeling lost and low self-worth.
Go ahead. Try it out
Affiliative leadership style can evoke lot of positive emotions that boost ownership, wellbeing, trust, and collaboration. In the end, a leader must be able to identify the right situations where this style can be adopted. Develop your style by being empathetic and connecting with your own emotions and vulnerabilities. Recognize the positive traits individuals have and accept them for who they are. A successful Affiliative leader will avoid judging harshly for someone not being like self. When you see individuals demonstrating harmonious behaviors, appreciate and reward them. Once such genuine bonds are formed, employees can go to any length to deliver for the leader. Do not forget to mix it with other styles such as Coaching and Visionary.