Business and Leadership: approaching an emerging future for business

Spring 2020, humanity’s twilight moment: leading in the change

Special Issue June 2020
Basic Leadership Skills course – Traveling together in oneness

  • 1 leadership journey:  semester Spring 2020
  • 3 communities: Butterfly – Eagle – Snake
  • 1 title: Spring 2020, humanity’s twilight moment: leading in the change
  • 3 articles:
    #Spirituality & Leadership: the conscious attitude of leaders
    #Business & Leadership: approaching an emerging future for business
    #Technology & Leadership: blending technology with humanity, the importance of balance in the digital era

Business and Leadership
Approaching an emerging future for business

Student-Authors of the course Basic Leadership Skills – Spring 2020
Community ”Eagle”

Baltes Aron(Germany)Bouard Solène (France), Dril Ilona (Russia), Dzharatov Aleksandr (Turkmenistan)Kartseva Anna (Russia)Maier Erika (Estonia),
Parkar Bilal (India), Savchenkov Daniil (Russia), Spörri Jan (Switzerland), Thinque Lisa (France), Valkeinen Oula (Finland), Marcella Zoccoli (JAMK University of Applied Sciences)

Student Editor-in-chief Spring 2020: Jan Spörri


Business and leadership are connected in various ways whether it is sustainable development, the management, or the competition with the industry opponents while handling the business altogether in general. During this semester attending the Basic Leadership Skills course here at JAMK University of Applied Sciences was an essential support for us during the COVID-19 outbreak since most of the contact lessons were canceled and everybody had to contribute on individual degree more in-depth-wise while participating in the course development which happened to be processed in its second half of the journey on the remote basis. This article is our contribution, our insight of how leaders should approach an emerging future for business and how it reflects on the leadership skills.

This article’s content is meant to deliver understanding from scientific articles and from the students’ personal experiences as well. We are imagining a new emerging business as a start-up company that is just beginning to fly and needs to find an appropriate leadership approach. Our choice to present here the 6 Leadership styles of Daniel Goleman: Commanding, Visionary, Affiliative, Democratic, Pacesetting, and Coaching. In our opinion, they can support leaders especially in times of crises like the one we are facing now through this pandemic in which finding new answers to old questions: ‘Who do I want to be? Who am I now? How do I get from here to there? How do I make a change stick? And who can help me?’’ (Goleman, Boyatzis, & McKee, 2001) is becoming fundamental.

Choosing the right Leadership approach

Here following the six leadership styles as designed by Goleman.  They are briefly described through their most important keywords and further showing the advantages and drawbacks of each of these leadership styles. The conclusion will add our opinion about which leadership styles are suitable for emerging businesses and which styles are less appropriate.


Table 1. The Six Leadership styles – Goleman (2000)
Sourced in Mindful Leadership, Zoccoli (2017)


Commanding Leadership

Commanding leadership style can also be named as authoritative or forcing. Such a leader has a powerful and dominant position in a team. This style of leading people is the opposite of democratic leadership, which means the leader makes most of the decisions alone without considering the opinions of the other team members. (Riaz 2019.)

A commanding leader must be a strong-willed person who is able to convince the team that the decisions and actions are correct, and everybody must follow them. As pointed out by Riaz (2019) as any other leadership style, commanding leadership should be applied in a suitable situation and there are its own advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages of commanding leadership:

  • Fast decisions
  • Discipline
  • Each person gets clear instructions and a strict time framework (Riaz 2019.)

Disadvantages of commanding leadership:

  • Pressure from the leader
  • Lack of creativity and innovation
  • People are limited in their work, cannot think out of the box (Riaz 2019.)

There are many, more suitable leadership styles in organizations than commanding leadership. It had its peak earlier in history however, nowadays the democratic and coaching style is dominant in the leadership. However, there are such situations where commanding leadership is the most suitable approach. A commanding leader is required in times of crisis or in emergency situations. In such a situation a person has to be confident in his actions and can take responsibility for them, because as Winston Churchill said, “Leadership is the intelligent use of power”. (in Riaz 2019.)


Visionary Leadership

Leaders with this approach do not focus on the technical details of the work, they see the big picture of the goal that the organization is striving for. These people who do not see how full or empty the glass is, they see what is behind the creation of this glass. They are not looking at things from the most familiar angle. They inspire people to unite and pass difficult obstacles on the way to the common good. Their task is to help move towards innovation and develop a new direction for the company. They are for innovation, have strategic thinking however, they are open to the possibilities of new ideas. (What Is Visionary Leadership? 7 Traits of a Visionary Leader 2020.)

Their strengths:

  • They can unite people. They inspire people to unite and strive for a high purpose.
  • Keep the focus. Their task is to give people an idea of where they are going and to hold on to this focus.
  • Innovation and creativity are the main factors. They understand that the world is not standing still and that they create our future by something new.
  • They inspire employees and make it clear that their contribution makes sense and is beneficial to the company. (What Is Visionary Leadership? 7 Traits of a Visionary Leader 2020.)

Their weaknesses:

  • This leader sees a big picture however does not pay attention to various important details. They are focused on the present since the world is volatile and they plan under new conditions. In case they are focused on the future they may not consider important circumstances in the present.
  • Such a leader will not cultivate people who believe in this vision since there is a risk that after the leader disappears the idea will disappear with him.

Being attached to one idea. Leaders can miss other even better ideas since he is attached to only one vision. (What Is Visionary Leadership? 7 Traits of a Visionary Leader 2020.)


Affiliative Leadership

If affiliative leadership had to be described in one word it would be the word “harmony”. Above anything else, these leaders promote emotional or social connection with their employees. Their goal is to structure the work of the team thus it is conflict-free. That is why nearly everyone appreciates this leadership style. The popular traits of affiliative leadership are conflict-resolution, employee raise, emotional intelligence, flexibility, freedom of creativity, and innovation. (What Is Affiliative Leadership? The “People First” Approach 2020.)

According to a 2014 Career Builder Survey, about 32% of respondents do not change their job because they appreciate the boss, and 54% similarly stay in their job since they enjoy the people they work with. This survey shows how highly employees’ value those around them. Hence, the absolute merits of this style of leadership:

  • confidence and loyalty of employees
  • building teams working in unity and harmony
  • higher employee morale
  • work together to effectively address stressors (What Is Affiliative Leadership? The “People First” Approach 2020.)

But affiliative leadership certainly has its drawbacks:

  • affiliative leaders could have a tough time answering the call of issues outside of their scope
  • overprotective care and assistance to their employees may not encourage them to produce better results
  • affiliative leaders might not be able to balance criticism with positive feedback (What Is Affiliative Leadership? The “People First” Approach 2020.)


Democratic Leadership

Democratic leadership from an organizational point of view is the distribution of authority and power between managers and employees to promote employee involvement in the decision-making process. From a non-organizational point of view, it means involving everybody associated with the decision to be made and taking their views into consideration. In a democratic leadership approach, the principles of democracy are used. These principles are equality, inclusiveness, and deliberation. While the leader in a democratic approach has the authority to take the final decision, the leader considers all alternative opinions before taking that decision. (Francis 2014.)

A democratic leader delegates some responsibilities to the team members to facilitate participation in making decisions. Since the democratic leader follows the deliberation principle of democracy, they often act as mediators and facilitators between the team members and make sure that there is always a respectful environment during the discussion. A democratic leader also focuses on empowering their teams. This means they provide (or equip) whatever is required for the teams to accomplish their tasks. This style of leadership fosters a sense of autonomy and participation. This resulting in greater participation from the team members results in more creative and innovative solutions to address the problems and serve the purpose. (Francis 2014.)

Democratic leadership is a good fit for businesses as the democratically derived solutions generally last for a longer period. Since everybody’s opinions are considered, honesty flourishes within the team, and team members tend to be more supportive and collective towards each other’s work. These were some of the advantages of democratic leadership, however, just like any other style the democratic leadership has its weaknesses as well. The weaknesses are the same as any “Democracy” faces. It can come across as being indecisive in certain situations, especially during a crisis, as the democratic leaders will have to be very direct and they do not function well in an authoritarian role. Time is another factor that contributes to the weakness of this style. Democratic leaders spend a lot of time discussing and considering everybody’s opinions since all the projects are time-sensitive the entire process of consulting everybody may lead to procrastination. (Francis 2014.)


Pacesetting Leadership

Another leadership style that gets results after Daniel Goldman is pacesetting. In this style, high standards and performance are set by the leader perspective. Then it projects these standards onto the employees, and this has a negative impact on the working atmosphere. (Pacesetting Leadership Style 2020.)

Pacesetting leaders are obsessive about doing things faster and better. It focuses on the result more than the way the results are achieved. With this attitude, they can quickly overwhelm the employees and morale goes down. In addition to the employees feeling overwhelmed if the requirements are not met, the employees are quickly replaced. The style is better shown with the sentence “Do as I do, now” and makes it clear that the leader expects the same skills as he has. (Pacesetting Leadership Style 2020.)

This type of style brings the above-mentioned challenges, such as overtaxing the employees a tense working atmosphere and does not take into consideration human needs. Another major disadvantage of this style is that no feedback is exchanged thus it is ultimately depending on whether the requirements are met satisfactorily with the vision or not. This style remains as an advantage when it comes to receiving quick results from a highly motivated and competent team. This leadership style can occasionally be found in large international companies where there is a competition between employees. (Pacesetting Leadership Style 2020.)


Coaching Leadership

The Coaching Leadership style is about developing people for the future and empowering them to be the next generation of leaders. As a prerequisite, a leader must have empathy and self-awareness in order to maintain a coaching leadership style. The impact on the overall environment is positive as it helps employees to develop long term strengths as well as improving their performance. Nevertheless, it not only helps to develop strength but also to recognize weaknesses in order to overcome them. The time horizon for this kind of leadership is long-term as it works on aspirations and actions of individuals and improves their attitudes and their maturity which cannot be changed in a short amount of time. (What is a Coaching Leadership Style? 2020.) The Coach or mentor will not dictate the actions the individual takes but helps him to do the action in the best way they can. The advantages of this style are that it has a positive effect on the capabilities of the employees and the company’s culture thus the company’s performance. (What is coaching leadership? 2020.) The drawbacks of this style are that it does not accomplish target quickly and short-term failure needs to be accepted. It is therefore rather time-consuming and the mentor or the coach needs to have deep knowledge and expertise in leading people while developing their strengths and cannot be frightened by receiving feedback as coaching depends on two-way communication. (What is coaching leadership? 2020.)


Identifying challenges and finding potential solutions in emerging business in a time of crises

This Spring, while our Basic Leadership Skills course studies we have identified three challenges that can be faced both in leadership and management: time pressure, difficult people/employees as well as failure and motivation. They show process similarities and differences in the two fields, here solutions are offered from the leadership perspective in emerging business in times of crisis.

–        Time Pressure

Time Pressure can occur when a task needs to be completed in time, or when employees are over-occupied. Difficulties in completing the task can further increase the time pressure on managers’ ‘’lifespan’’ with repercussions on the entire project. A manager could react agitated when the deadline is approaching, and the work was poorly done. A leader should act in balance by approaching time as an element of the process and not an enemy of the vison. He/she would check regularly how the work is proceeding and therefore notice struggles before the end of the timeline, in order to take measures to empower the employee to finish in time. Working under pressure can be tough and hard to handle thus supervisors should be understanding and supporting. Effective time management must first be learned and highly depends on individual aspects. Time can be perceived and used very differently by different cultures and creating gaps in the organization. As pointed out by Zoccoli (2017) ‘’it would be a utopian expectation to think that the company as a network can pulse always at the same frequency’’, but it is possible to ‘’support people/employees in working aligned’’.  Through Self- and collective awareness of the different speeds of each individual involved in the process,  the system adjusts itself, and time pressure can be transformed in human energy through which people can work together and aligned. This is at the core of the Mindful Leadership ‘’Tempo’’  model (Zoccoli, 2017).

–        Difficult people/employees

Communication is one of the vital parts of whatever business. But communication not only goes the way from leader to employer but also the other way around. Sometimes it can happen, that difficult people at work make it hard to maintain effective communication. Difficult people/employees might have difficulties in paying attention and therefore listening to their supervisors. They might keep re-asking the same question or neglect the opinions or requests from their supervisor. Other employees could be distracted by such behavior.

It might be important to ensure, that the job gets done, but it might not be target-oriented to ignore the needs of these specific employees. A leader could carefully listen to such employees and try to detect the reason behind this behavior. From the leader, this requires understanding, a positive posture, and the ability to hold back their emotions, so that a productive working environment can be maintained.

–        Failure and Motivation

Another challenge business may face is the failure along with the reactions that follow to it How to overcome them and maintaining the motivation can be achieved in several different ways. A manager might tend to show his disappointment and stress the employees for it to not happen again. However, these high expectations may lead to demotivation and high pressure. To motivate the personnel to work better and even more productively while learning to avoid the same mistakes in the future, a balanced leader would stay calm and show understanding. Stressed-out employees should be confronted individually to avoid further complications. Failures are almost unavoidable and are also a part of the learning process, especially for start-up companies. In many companies, the slogan is to fail fast. Given the fact, that failure is indeed unavoidable, the goal is to fail as fast as possible, to be able to improve on this matter. Learning from failure helps in improvement in performance but also from a human perspective.



After acquiring knowledge about the various leadership styles of Goleman and getting to know the situations where they can be used, we have chosen the democratic leadership style as the most suitable for our community. It should help us to work on the projects in the Basic Leadership Skills course. To make this decision, we took into consideration various ethical and effectiveness factors, therefore combining human and management interests. During the starting phase of a new business, it is important to maintain respectable relationships with the employees. The working environment should be healthy and motivated in order to overcome the challenges they are likely to face. The democratic approach offers the same opportunities to all members while allowing flexibility in the process and maintaining a clear vision and mission as well as enabling transparent communication. Therefore, it is a suitable approach for many new businesses and situations. Depending on the specific situation of a company and the challenges they may face, another leadership approach may be more appropriate. In this case, the above-shown table can help give an overview and to choose the right leadership style for any specific company.



Francis, A. 2014. Six Leadership Styles by Daniel Goleman. Mbaknol, 23 March 2014. Accessed on 18. April 2020. Retrieved from

Goleman, D., Boyatzis, R. E., & McKee, A. 2002. Primal leadership: Realizing the power of emotional intelligence. Boston, Mass: Harvard Business School Press.

Goleman, D. 1998. Working with emotional intelligence. New York: Bantam Books.

Riaz, A. 2019. Commanding leadership style. Inspired Trait, 24. February 2019. Accessed on 18. April 2020. Retrieved from

Pacesetting Leadership Style. Article on Secret to their success website. Accessed on 18. April 2020. Retrieved from

 What Is Affiliative Leadership? The “People First” Approach. Article on StatusNet website. Accessed on 18. April 2020. Retrieved from

What is coaching leadership? Article on Eden Project website. Accessed on 17. April 2020. Retrieved from

 What is a Coaching Leadership Style? Article on Performance Consultants website. Accessed on 17. April 2020. Retrieved from

 What Is Visionary Leadership? 7 Traits of a Visionary Leader. Article on StatusNet website. Accessed on 18. April 2020. Retrieved from

Zoccoli, M. 2017, The Mindful Leadership at Fratelli Branca Distillerie srl. Master’s Degree Programme in International Business Administration. Jyväskylä: JAMK University of Applied Sciences.