Resonance vs Dissonance

Are You Resonating With Your Staff?

In two weeks, we are going to begin a six part series on the six Leadership Styles as defined by Daniel Goleman in his book “Primal Leadership”: Affiliative, Visionary, Pacesetting, Democratic, Commanding, and Coaching. Before we begin discussing the specifics of each style of leadership, it’s important to know the difference between a resonant leader and a dissonant leader because understanding that difference will help you determine when to use certain styles and when not to.

A leader with a resonant style of leadership is someone who is in tune with those around them. They understand others’ perspectives as well as the emotions attached to those perspectives. They are able to build on that attunement in order to move the group in a positive direction. Not only do they connect with employees on an individual level, they help to create an environment where everyone feels comfortable connecting with everyone else. Building emotional bonds between employees helps create an environment where people are more comfortable innovating, collaborating, and exceeding expectations.

A leader with a dissonant style of leadership on the other hand, is someone who is completely out of sync with their staff. They do not recognize the impact that their style has on others. They are unable to read the mood of the company or feel underlying tension. They quickly suck the joy out of a team by focusing on the negative and creating a toxic work environment. Their employees soon shut off or check out, they become defensive and skirt responsibility. Dissonant leaders may get results in the short-term, but the long term effects of their leadership can bring a whole company down.

Daniel Goleman defines four of his leadership styles as resonant: Affiliative, Visionary, Coaching, and Democratic. And two as dissonant: Pacesetting and Commanding. Though Pacesetting and Commanding are dissonant styles that does not mean that they aren’t effective in some cases. The difference is that they must be used with much more caution than the resonant styles because of their ability to wreak havoc on a work environment.

Each style has its pros and each has its cons, which is why it’s important to learn about each of the styles and understand where and when each style is most effective.


If you’re interested in learning more ways to be a better CEO, download our eBook “5 Ways to Become a Better CEO This Week“.

Eure Consulting