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What is Affiliative Leadership? The “People First” Approach

If the affiliative leader could be described in one word, it would be harmonious. These individuals portray their leadership traits through promoting harmony and conflict resolution among teams. Their goal is to build groups that work well together in accomplishing the objectives set forth by the organization. However, their motivation is not just concerned with meeting performance standards, but they have a genuine interest in making sure that co-workers feel connected to one another. This style of leadership is favorable to employees. Many times, these leaders are brought in to inspire team building and to build employee morale.

Free online tools for work:
1. Fluxes.com — Free Project and Task Management Software
2. Status.net — Software for Effective Communication

Part 1

Traits and Principles of Affiliative Leaders

Affiliative Leadership is considered to be one of the six emotional leadership styles. This method along with visionary, coaching, democratic, commanding, and pacesetting directly impacts the emotions of workers. The popular traits of this style promote emotional ties between workers and their employees.

  1. Focused on Conflict Resolution

    This is a mutual leadership style that is all about healing rifts and getting rid of animosity. They make the emotional needs of workers a priority and work to prevent conflict among teams.

  2. Praise is Critical

    Affiliative leaders lavish a lot of praise on their workers. They provide support and encouraging feedback. While it makes workers feel appreciated, it could cause workers to slack off and feel they can get away with unfavorable behavior.

  3. Other’s Awareness

    Leaders that subscribe to this style have a dedicated knowledge of the emotions and well-being of others. To help connect individuals and understand their needs, leaders have to be adept at reading emotions.

  4. Flexibility

    For these leaders to gain favorability with workers, they usually allow flexibility of culture and work arrangements to appease employees and build trust.

  5. A Belief in Freedom

    This leadership style promotes freedom of creativity and innovation. It shares this trait with visionary leadership. Workers are empowered to create ideas and collaborate with their fellow employees to solve work problems.

  6. Resilience

    Affiliative leaders are typically brought in to unite teams after a stressful or traumatic event has occurred at the workplace that impacted an entire workforce. To undertake this, leaders have to withstand turbulent times of transition and change. They also have to be ready to deal with the emotional ups and downs of the team as they regroup.

  7. Empathetic Communication

    This leadership style is not authoritative or demanding in conversations with employees. Affiliative leaders always focus on the positive and take the feelings of employees into account when discussing feedback.

     

The Importance of Affiliative Leadership

According to a 2014 Career Builder Survey, 54 percent of respondents stayed at their current jobs because they liked the people they worked with. This was the top reason many workers chose to stay. Thirty-two percent of respondents stayed because they felt they had a good boss that watched out for them, the seventh top choice.

This information shows that workers greatly value the individuals they work with, and affiliative leaders tap into this desire by facilitating trusting employee relationships. It is essential that executives and business leaders know when to bring in someone with this leadership style. If a company’s workers are experiencing low morale or if a conflict has taken over the organization, then an affiliative leader might be the best choice to unite teams.

Part 2

The Qualities of an Affiliative Leader

  • At their core, affiliative leaders are nurturing.
  • They care about what their workers think about them, and these leaders do their best always to take their interest and emotions into account.
  • Many times, situations that have led to the arrival or rise of an affiliative leader are emotionally charged due to a stressful event. Therefore, these leaders bring with them a perspective that promotes unity and emotional harmony.
  • However, these individuals are not all about soft skills. They do have to become comfortable functioning in uncomfortable situations that led teams to disarray. There is not an emphasis on vision or direction, but only on the well-being of employees.

Part 3

Advantages of Affiliative Leaders

  • Increase in Employee TrustReferring to a previously mentioned statistic, workers stay for bosses who have their backs. The traits of affiliative leaders will naturally create trust with employees. Positive gestures and opportunities for nurturing feedback will make employees feel like they can be open.
  • Tighter-Knit TeamsThe ultimate goal of these leaders is to create collaborative organizations that work in unity and harmony with one another. Their “people first” approach should accomplish this and produce workers who are equipped to work together.
  • Higher Employee MoraleThis leadership style promotes freedom, flexibility, and creative ideas. If workers are allowed to have autonomy, then it will likely lead to a higher level of employee morale. According to a recent survey, 17 percent of employees enjoy working for smaller business because they feel their input matters. Employees want to be in environments where their work is meaningful, and affiliative leaders make this a priority.
  • A Direction in Times of StressMuch like charismatic leaders, affiliative leaders are brought in to guide teams through times of crisis and transition. If a company’s culture has been unsettled by layoffs, mergers, or other highly chaotic events, then affiliative leaders can provide the nurturing hand that gets workers through it.
  • Increased AutonomyAffiliative leaders are more hands-off then their counterparts. Much of the development and decisions are driven by the employees themselves. They are not directive or overbearing in how they lead. This will make those who value independent thought satisfied.

Part 4

Disadvantages of Affiliative Leaders

Because of the positive feelings, affiliative leaders likely inspire in their workers; the consensus may be that all of the traits brought by affiliative leaders have better effects on the company. While this may be true in some cases, this is not always the result of this leadership style.

  • A Lack of Real LeadershipAffiliative leaders are more hands-off so they could fail in their attempts to guide teams. This could create stress for employees that need more direction or direct feedback.
  • ComplacencyThese leaders are known to be nurturing and caring about works. In turn, this will make it more likely that affiliative leaders will normally provide positive feedback. As a result, workers may never strive to produce better results or find out how they can improve creating complacency.
  • Unrealistic DependenceIf affiliative leaders are the emotional backbone of a company, it could drive employees never to develop their tools to deal with chaotic workplace situations. This person may always be looked at as the individual who can fix difficult problems. Additionally, what happens to the progress of conflict resolution when this person leaves?
  • Refusing to Handle Immediate ProblemsWhat if there are issues that are outside of the scope of an affiliative leader? Could they manage a problematic budget, a product that has failed to catch on with consumers, or another event that is out of their control? They are skilled in working with people, but affiliative leaders could have a tough time answering the call of issues outside of their scope.
  • A Decrease in PerformanceIf workers are only receiving positive feedback, they will never learn where they can improve. This behavior will likely decrease performance and productivity. Affiliative leaders might not be able to balance criticism with positive feedback.

Part 5

Affiliative Leadership Best Practices

  1. Balance Criticism with Praise

    The personality of an affiliative leader may be more prone to offer positive feedback, but they have to realize the good of the company rests on employees who look for ways to improve and get better. They can still be nurturing and supportive while providing goals for workers to meet.

  2. Provide Conflict Resolution Training

    Affiliative leaders have to recognize that conflict resolution cannot just be their responsibility. It is something that everyone has to take an active interest in. These leaders should focus on training employees and executives on effective conflict resolution techniques. They are not only helping workers solve their problems, but also teaching them to do it themselves.

  3. Deal with Other Issues That Arise

    Teambuilding and employee well-being are both very important, but they are not the only thing affiliative leaders should be concerned about. They should make sure to stay attuned to other internal and external issues that arise to protect employees and the company.

  4. Keep an Eye on Performance

    Whether it is due to leadership or transition or the traits of the affiliative leader, it would make sense to have strategies and plans in place to track performance and productivity. If there has been a decrease in either, then leaders will have a better way of seeing what the cause could be and rectify the issue. Read more: Performance Management: The Definitive Guide

Each leadership style calls for a different approach, and affiliative leaders brought in to bring unity and harmony back to the workplace and encourage workers to do their best. However, this nurturing style can lead to complacency and poor performance if leaders are not careful. So, individuals who subscribe to this style would do well to balance nurture with useful and wisely critical feedback.

 

Effective leadership is all about communicating effectively.

Status.net is a cloud solution for effective leadership communication. It brings a more light-hearted tone to messaging making it easily digestible, and makes it easy for leaders to provide and receive updates regularly.

How to use status.net for effective leadership communication:

  1. Build trust and improve leadership communication by sharing status updates, company goals and objectives regularly.
  2. Easily implement regular status updates for your team members by creating status feeds such as “How did you contribute to the team’s goals this week?” or “Do you have any obstacles?“.
  3. Create automated scheduled questionnaires with questions like “How can we improve?“.
  4. No one forgets to fill in status updates because status.net sends automated reminders according to the recurrence schedule you chose.
  5. Provide guidance and feedback:
    Each status update has a separate section for comments, which is used by team members to clarify information and by leaders to provide guidance and feedback in context.
  6. Optionally, enrich status reports with the latest updates automatically added from web apps your team uses (such as project management tools, version control systems, support systems, financial applications, CRM, etc.) by connecting these apps to your status feed.
  7. Use status updates for future reference and decrease time and efforts spent on monthly, quarterly, and yearly reporting thanks to powerful filtering and export features.
  8. Spend less time on meetings by making them more productive because everyone is on the same page at all times. Easily share meeting agendas and meeting summaries with anyone.
  9. Sharing: Status updates can be either
    — exported to files and printed, or sent by email;
    — shared with manager online; or
    — shared online as company-wide or team-wide status reports, i.e., all team members share their progress with each other.

 

How to configure status updates:

Step 1:

  • Create a “Status Update” feed and set up a recurrence.
  • Configure who will write and read status updates by choosing the “Participants” tab and then clicking the “Cog” button near “Feed Participants” title.
how to create status updates status feed

Options:

  • Set the status feed as “Team-wide” if you want all team members to view each other’s status updates.
  • Alternatively, you can allow access to status updates for certain participants only (such as yourself if you’re a team lead). In this case, turn “Team-wide” mode OFF and restrict viewing by unchecking “View” properties for other participants. Team members with the “View” checkbox unchecked will only be able to view their own status updates.
  • If you’re a manager and you don’t plan to share your status updates with your team, uncheck “Update” for yourself – in this case, you won’t receive reminders.
  • The Recurrence setting configures how often participants receive email reminders to fill in their status updates. This feature is optional and can be turned off.
  • You can add, remove, and assign new team members at any time.

Step 2: The text of the status update should be added to the “Update” field of status feed.

how to add an update to status report

As soon as a new status update is added, participants with “View” rights can view it in real time when they log in to their accounts. They will also automatically receive emails with the full text of status updates.

Done!

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