What is Affective Leadership?

As I watch leaders and question why others follow them, I am increasingly convinced that leadership is much more than what a leader says or does; it is who he is.

What makes one group of soldiers follow a commanding officer into battle and probable death, while another group under a different leader chooses to mutiny? I believe the difference is the emotional connection (or lack of connection) between the leader and her followers.

Affective Leadership℠ is the ability to connect with and influence other people to achieve common goals through strong relationships and emotional attachment.

These relationships generate possibilities that allow people to be the leaders, parents, scientists, friends, artists, or entrepreneurs they can become. These possibilities change the future.

Leaders instill trust. They forge emotional connections that make others willing to struggle if necessary to realize a vision of the future. Leaders declare what they believe and what they want to accomplish. If they are able to connect, others will willingly—and often eagerly—follow.1

Affective Leadership℠ ties together the brain science involving how people make decisions (i.e. about following a particular leader) and ontological coaching practices associated with who a person is and how other people perceive him or her. It includes body, emotion and language.

Natural leaders adopt many of these skills unconsciously. However, the premise of Affective Leadership℠ is that leaders and potential leaders can learn, reflect on, and master skills tied to generating and enjoying greater emotional interaction and enhanced leadership.

The practice of Affective Leadership℠ includes all the skills a leader possesses that make emotional connections with other people possible. These skills link mind, body, emotion, and language, which are all necessary to create strong emotional connections. Without these connections, people are unwilling to follow and support a leader.

Specific Affective Leadership℠ skills include among other traits: emotional intelligence, leadership presence, intentional language, active listening, developing and maintaining trust, and authentic lightness. These skills, which lead to strong emotional connections, increase possibilities that change the future. They also lead to increased personal satisfaction and personal relationship, what I call Affective Living℠.

Our work focuses on creating an online and in-person community that enhances and supports Affective Leadership and Affective Leaders. Through writing, coaching and online learning, our goal is to assist leaders in making a positive difference in the world.

1 Excerpt from Connect: Affective Leadership℠ for Effective Results available online in paperback and e-book.

This topic is covered in much greater detail in my book, Connect: Affective Leadership℠ for Effective Results. 

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Photo Credit: Nguyen Vu Hung (vuhung) via Compfight cc

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